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Twisted Metal III is a vehicular combat game in which the player takes control of one of twelve unique vehicles. While in control of a vehicle, the player can accelerate, steer, brake, reverse, activate the turbo, turn tightly, toggle between and activate weapons using the game controller's d-pad, analog sticks and buttons. The game can be played in either the one-player "Tournament" mode or the multi-player "Deathmatch" mode. The Tournament mode consists of an eight-level game. The goal of each level is to destroy all of the opponent vehicles. The enemy vehicles are automatically chosen and their skill increases with each level that is successfully passed. The Tournament continues until all of the player's lives have expired or all levels have been completed. The player has the option to play with a computer-assisted ally to aid in destroying their opponents. However, the ending cinematics will not be viewable if a computer-controlled ally is used. If a computer-controlled ally is used, the player has the option to share their total number of lives with the ally. When either player loses a life, the collective number of lives decreases. The Deathmatch mode is a one-to-four-player game in which the player fights head-to-head with other players, though computer-controlled enemy cars can also be incorporated. The Deathmatch ends when one player successfully destroys all other player vehicles, after which the match resets for another battle. Depending on the level selected, the player may select up to seven enemy cars to compete in the match. The player begins the Tournament mode of the game with three lives. The total number of lives remaining is indicated in the lower left-hand display with the player's health bar, speedometer and turbo. The health bar indicates how much health the player's vehicle has remaining. The length of each of the player's lives is tied to their health bar, which decreases whenever the player's vehicle is damaged by enemy attacks. When the health meter fully depletes, the player loses a life. The player can gain additional health by picking up health icons scattered throughout the environment. If the last life is lost, the game ends prematurely. Weapons play a key role in winning the game. All vehicles come with a pair of mounted machine guns. They are weak in power, but have unlimited ammunition. Additional weapons scattered throughout the environments can be picked up and utilized if the player drives through them. These weapons include a variety of missiles, bombs, napalm and mortars. Each vehicle can execute three categories of attacks: "Special Weapon Attacks", "Advanced Attacks" and "Combo Attacks". Special Weapon Attacks are unique to each vehicle and are unlimited in stock, but need time to recharge if used repeatedly. Advanced Attacks allow the player to attack enemies when the player is out of weapons, but they can only be used if the Advanced Attack Energy Bar on the lower-right corner of the screen is fully charged. Most Advanced Attacks require three or four buttons sequences to initiate. Combo Attacks combine Advanced Attacks and maneuvers with weapon pick-ups. Combo Attacks can also be performed with a vehicle's special weapon. Due to the open-environment nature of Twisted Metal III, there are numerous possible combos and strategies to invent and discover.
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