Few games revealed at E3 raised as much commotion as Twisted Metal. Having the father of the series, David Jaffe, at the helm only makes the deal sweeter. I recently got a chance to sit down with the game’s team deathmatch and learn about Nuke Mode. Also, this preview contains talk of helicopters, giant Sweet Tooth effigies, and flaming chainsaws.

Immediately upon grabbing the controller I grabbed the settled into the driver seat of a souped up ambulance. Cars in the game drive a lot like the vehicles in Twisted Metal Black, which is a very good thing. Having the gas and e-brake mapped to the face buttons frees up the shoulder buttons for weapon management. While speaking with Jaffe he said that the team tinkered with more traditional racing controls, but this legacy format just feels right. I have to agree, as I felt right at home firing and steering the ambulance’s special weapon – a terrified patient on a gurney strapped with explosives.

While getting back to car combat feels like getting back on a bike (strapped with barbed wire and flamethrowers), controlling the helicopter took a little getting used to. The right analog stick is used to adjust the choppers verticality. Managing elevation while keeping a bead on enemies with the machine gun can be challenging. Thankfully, players can jump into a first person turret view, allowing precision shooting. The helicopter also fires missiles and comes equipped with a junkyard magnet to transport friendly cars. This whirly bird from hell is a fun and welcome addition to the vehicle selection.

Plenty of other twisted rides will be appearing in the game as well. Old favorites like Sweet Tooth’s robot-transforming ice cream truck are back, as is Mr. Grimm and others that have yet to be confirmed. Online, players have access to every vehicle, like the missile-equipped sports car, taxi-hurling tow truck, and murderous motorcycle. The horrific hog comes equipped with a throwable chainsaw, which starts on far for triple damage after the player pops a wheel and drags it along the road. My favorite is the roadboat, a huge luxury sedan with a powerful magnet strapped to the front. The magnet scoops up enemy cars, allowing drivers to ram them into walls or toss them off ledges, often to hilarious results. The assortment is wide and twistedly entertaining so far.

Sony is being quiet on the game’s story-driven single-player campaign while pushing team-based online play into the spotlight. The mode I played was team deathmatch, and the action was more frantic than any game in the series. The map is so massive that it makes Black’s largest maps look like kiddie pools (filled with blood) by comparison. The HUD displays a radar, weapon inventory, and highlighted players without distracting from the carnage. Prowling the skies in the powerful but vulnerable helicopter yields tons of options. Blasting the turret into the fray is a fun way to dole out distant damage, and if coming under enemy fire can be handled by a few well-placed missiles. Players get much more gameplay time per spawn in Twisted Metal, and not dying every ten seconds is a refreshing change of pace for online play.

Another online match time, called Nuke Mode, requires players to capture rival faction leaders (Sweet Tooth or Dollface), and drag them to a missile launcher. Tension builds with desperate car chases to stop the capturer in their tracks before reaching the missile launcher. Teamwork is imperative, as the kidnapper is defenseless while the timed missile launch ticks down . Once the opposing leader is launched into a grinder a nuke is launched, which propels towards a towering statue of the recently murdered martyr. The opposing team then scrambles to shoot down the nuke before it reaches the humongous icon. Though I didn’t get to play this mode myself, it looks like a crazy and *** way to experience Twisted Metal online.

As a huge fan of Twisted Metal Black, I’m already pleased with how the game looks. My initial disappointment that Sony is shooting for a gritty teen rating was blown to bits by my hands-on time with the game. Throw in local and online splitscreen, and you’ve got one of the first solid reasons to own four PS3 controllers since LittleBigPlanet.