Comic-Con 2011: David Jaffe holds court to talk about how the team is ramping up the vehicular combat game's violence and gore, how strategy runs deep.
Who was there: David Jaffe was largely a one-man show at the Twisted Metal Comic-Con 2011 panel.
What they talked about: Jaffe began the panel by answering two burning questions. The first was whether or not there will be a Twisted Metal beta, to which Jaffe said they were planning a private and semi-private beta. A game like Twisted Metal doesn't require that large of a testing phase, he said, and a private beta will give them better, more focused results.
Second, he said that to his knowledge, there isn't a Twisted Metal Collector's Edition planned. He hopes to keep it that way, as he thinks the chintz that is often packed in with limited-run, premium packages isn't what the release should be about.
From there, Jaffe debuted the opening live-action cinematic for Twisted Metal, which tells a motivation story of sorts for iconic crazed clown Sweet Tooth. The video, which will be available on GameSpot shortly, begins with a slow zoom-out shot focused on a transistor radio. An AM radio host takes calls from conspiracy theorist-callers, who proclaim the head of Calypso Industries is leading an underground Twisted Metal competition.
As the radio host blows it off, a pool of blood begins to saturate the radio, and the camera pans to reveal a woman's corpse. Standing above her is Sweet Tooth, who says, "Looks like Calypso's got another driver for this year's contest." Sweet Tooth then goes into a reverie, remembering "the one who got away." That is, the one who stabbed him in the eye with a pair of scissors before he could kill her. He then says that when he wins Calypso's latest tournament, he will have his wish granted of finding her and killing her.
As the brutally violent live-action video ends, Jaffe emphasizes that the game is definitely in the M-for-Mature category at this point. Though the team initially pushed to release the game with a T rating, the ESRB balked at having the graphic live action video in the game. Rather than compromising, Jaffe and his team opted to embrace the M, and is currently retooling parts of the game to further make use of the more lax rating.
Jaffe used much of the remainder of the Twisted Metal panel to emphasize that while the game has the veneer of a pick-up-and-play style car combat title, it actually has a good deal of strategy. To demonstrate the amount of strategy in the game, he began at the car-selection screen, giving a brief run down of the new sidearm feature. These new weapons, which weren't viewable in the version of the game brought to Comic-Con, are all balanced based on reload time, range, and damage.
He then jumped into the Black Rock Stadium level with Shadow, Crimson Fury, and Axel. Playing first as Shadow, Jaffe showed the versatility of the primary weapon, which is a dead guy in a coffin. Jaffe also dropped a fun fact: The corpse's face is modeled off of Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, Buried). The coffin weapon can be launched and detonated, and the longer players wait to explode their payload, the more area-of-effect damage it does.
Going deeper, if the coffin scores a direct hit, it does more damage. It can also be lobbed like a grenade, which also does more damage. These shots, of course, are more difficult to pull off.
Jaffe then showed off the game's garage mechanic. Players only have one life per level, but they can bring several other cars to a match. Once they enter the garage, they can choose one of the other cars they brought, while the vehicle they were driving slowly repairs.
The next car shown was Crimson Fury, which is the fastest vehicle in the game. Jaffe said that they are still working to get Crimson Fury functional in online play, as the car's current speed causes latency issues. Returning to his theme of strategy, Jaffe said that Crimson Fury's primary weapon is a flamethrower. The longer the flamethrower is trained on an enemy, the more damage it does, thanks to plumes of fire that discharge. He also showed an area-of-effect knock back that damages enemies.
Lastly, he pulls out Axel, who is a man suspended between two monster truck wheels. Axel's special ability is to compact his shape so that the two outer wheels come together and sprout spikes. Rolling over multiple enemies before the special ability expires yields more points. Axel also has the most powerful vertical leap in the game, allowing him to access certain areas more easily than other vehicles.
Exiting out of this map, Jaffe loads up Metro Square, which is based on New York City's Times Square. This part of the demo emphasized the destructibility of the game, as well as maps' interconnectivity. In Metro Square, there is a whole underground subway system that links many of the buildings in the city, and players can navigate the map underground to strategic effect. He also showed how destroying certain objects (such as a blue whale post-taxidermy) can open up new pathways.
The final part of Jaffe's demo showed off a number of the universal weapons, such as ricochet bombs, sticky bombs, and a sniper rifle. The sniper rifle, in particular, is being retooled due to the change to an M rating, with Jaffe showing it capable of zooming in on the actual driver of a vehicle to land a headshot, with plenty of gore to accompany it.
Quote: "Without blood, it felt a little weird, frankly."--David Jaffe, on Twisted Metal's definitive move into the M rating.
Takeaway: Jaffe was keen on emphasizing that Twisted Metal has depth to rival a fighting game, with players able to make use of substantial strategy and skill to outmatch their opponents. Of course, for those who'd rather just blow stuff up, Twisted Metal offers that too. Plus, with the team's decision to embrace the M rating, those explosions are only going to get more violent and bloody as Twisted Metal approaches its October 4 release date on the PS3.