Originally published March 5, 2008 at 1:46 a.m., updated March 5, 2008 at 1:46 a.m.
Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition (PS2)
If I had to compile a list of the five games from my childhood that I feel the strongest nostalgia towards, Twisted Metal (specifically TM2) would definitely be included. The original was released at the perfect time for me I was 11 years old, which is a prime age for enjoying a game that included a demonic clown that blew shit up with his missile-equipped ice cream truck. At that age, nothing in the world could possibly be cooler than that concept. Thirteen years later, and I still find myself having an absolute blast driving at unholy speeds through Twisted Metal Head-On's various courses, destroying everything in my path with homing missiles and napalm bombs. It doesn't hurt that TMHO emulates the best game in the series (TM2), whether it's the return to the infamous Paris level, the cartoony art style, or the inclusion of virtually every character from that title. Even if this was just a direct port of Head-On for the bargain $20 price tag, it would be a must-buy. However, Extra Twisted Edition features four "lost" levels from the never-made Twisted Metal Black 2, and they're all quality. There's also a boatload of bonuses, including a documentary about the series in which the producers make it clear that they don't consider TM 3 or 4 to be actual Twisted Metal titles (neither do gamers). For a measly twenty bucks, this title contains the best entry in the series since TM2, as well as plenty of extras for the hardcore fans. There's no reason not to pick this one up.
Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed (Wii)
When I heard that two new Destroy All Humans games were being made (one for the Wii, one for PS3/360), I knew instantly which would be the inferior product. This series, as well as any open-world sandbox game, would greatly benefit from the superior power of the HD systems. The Wii, however, has great potential to take working game formulas and make them more annoying with tacked-on motion controls. There's no difference here:you'll be pointing at random flying dots on the screen to activate most of your PK powers, and there's no reason this couldn't just be assigned to button combinations. Camera control is also handled by pointing at the screen, so you have no choice but to constantly be pointing the Wii remote directly at your TV at all times. Adding to the frustration is the fact that the vehicles switch this around, and force you to turn and ascend/descend with tilts and turns of the remote. If there's one redeeming aspect of Big Willy Unleashed, it's the series' trademark humor. It includes a very Soylent Green-esque story, and tons of 70s era references, both obscure and obvious (although nowhere near as clever as DAH2's great Charlie Watts reference). Big Willy Unleashed is also a very ugly game, which is inexcusable at this point. Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy have proven that the Wii is certainly capable of some decent-looking graphics, so there's no reason we should be seeing fog and textures that look like they belong on the Nintendo 64. Save your money and wait for Destroy All Humans 3.
Dynasty Warriors 6 (PS3)
There are two series that I dread reviewing: Madden and Dynasty Warriors. Every time a new one comes out, my brain freezes up when I sit at the computer and try to differentiate it from the previous installment. I looked back at some of my previous DW reviews, and I can't think of anything of real significance to add, which is a testament to just how much this series stays the same. Take this paragraph from my Dynasty Warriors 2 (PSP) review for example:
"The campaign may feature mindless, repetitive combat and little mission variety, but it can still be satisfying to topple an entire army single-handedly or with a friend. Playing the game in short bursts helps spread out the repetitiveness, but once you realize just how one-track the whole game is there's little reason for even the most Han-obsessed gamer to finish. If you've played any of the Dynasty Warriors games after the original, you've played this one."
That entire paragraph, word-for-word, applies to Dynasty Warriors 6. In fact, read any review, anywhere on the internet, for Dynasty Warriors 2,3,4, or 5, and you'll have a good idea of what to expect from 6. Oh wait:.you can climb and swim in this one. Awesome. If you're a hardcore fan of the series (and I know they exist:my little sister is one of them), you're going to buy this no matter what I say. If you're unfamiliar with the series and want to experience what it's like without paying $60, just buy a used PS2 controller and smash on the square and triangle buttons for hours on end.