Twisted Metal is 17 years old. Yeah, let that sink in for a bit. That certainly doesn't make it the oldest videogame series but the franchise ranks up there with other long-running properties like Final Fantasy and Mario. Twisted Metal has hung around because the kid in us still loves driving around in souped-up cars and blowing others to kingdom come to the tune of Sammy Hagar and Rob Zombie. 2012's new Twisted Metal doesn't screw up that formula, but it doesn't do much else other than add excellent cinematics that have nothing to do with the fun parts of the game.
Here's a quick refresher, just in case you aren't one of the series' rabid fans: Twisted Metal takes place in alternate America where vicious crime is at an all time high and killer gangs roam the countryside. The real power resides in the Calypso Corporation and the underground demolition competition the eponymous CEO runs. The "Twisted Metal" contest brings all of the crazies out of the woodwork because Calypso has the supernatural power to grant a wish to the winner. Just be careful what you wish for.
The stylish cinematics explaining all that work extremely well, but playing through the campaign leaves you with the undeniable feeling that the three short films telling the stories of Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm and Dollface might have been better if they were divorced from the trappings of a videogame. There's just no relation between the horror and grindhouse-esque cutscenes and the game. You don't even pick a certain vehicle or character to play through, which would have at least given the player a sense of agency or offer some light roleplay. Instead, you are just rewarded with an unrelated cutscene after completing innocuous missions.
Taken from a pure gameplay standpoint, the amount of vehicles at your disposal is welcome. Each of the fifteen or so vehicles fit a different playstyle, some focusing on speed while others are slow and armored or have more useful special weapons. Most of the single-player challenges let you choose three cars that you can switch out at a garage, and each mission has different enough objectives that there is some strategy in picking what cars you use. There's a fair bit of customization as you can pick your car's sidearm like uzis or rockets, and in a neat diversion, you can design the look of each car's paintjob or accessories for use in the campaign and multiplayer. If you are doing one of the few races in the campaign, it makes sense to pick a fast car, but be warned that the speed freaks like Kamikaze are very light and will get bounced around quite a bit. Some purists might not like the unrealistic physics, but I didn't mind the cartoony nature of combat in Twisted Metal.