Review: Transformers Prime - The Game provides good fan service, but motion controls get in the way of the fun
Given how popular Transformers Prime is with the kiddos (and the kiddos at heart), it only made sense for Activision to publish a Wii title based on the computer-animated show. The 3DS version of the game proved to be a solid handheld title. The Wii rendition of Transformers Prime - The Game is, for the most part, an enjoyable romp, as well. Unfortunately, the action it presents tends to be a bit mindless, and the tacked on motion controls do absolutely nothing to make the experience any more engaging. What you’re left with is a functional and entertaining brawler that’s best suited for younger fans of the TV series.
Prime follows the exploits of Optimus Prime and the Autobots as they continue to do battle with Megatron and the Decepticons. This is your standard good versus evil plotline, and if you’ve watched the Prime series on TV, you should be familiar with what to expect from the game story-wise. Though not wholly original, Prime does a good job of advancing its narrative with frequent cut-scenes and authentic voice acting from the actual show’s stars. You’ve got good robots, bad robots, and annoying kids, and they’re all portrayed faithfully in regards to the animated show.
There’s some nice gameplay variety in Prime, and it doesn’t take too long before the action really amps up. You’ve got several attacks at your disposal including punches and aerial attacks. You’ve also got strong lasers that can dole out single shots or a powered up charge shot. If you really want to bring the hurt, you can transform your character into a vehicle and then dish out a heavy attack with a swing of the Wii Remote. If you’re not very fond of Wii-based waggle, however, you’re likely to get annoyed with Prime almost immediately as this game relies heavily on flicks of the wrist to pull off attacks.
The game’s motion controls do nothing but hurt the overall quality of Prime. I think we’ve gotten to the point where not every Wii game needs to feature weak, unoriginal motion controls. That’s why it’s so surprising that Prime reverts back to that old trick and requires players to swing the Wii Remote throughout the entire game. Developers could really learn a lot from other Wii brawlers such as No More Heroes and MadWorld. Those games relied on button presses for basic attacks and simple motions for finishing moves. The result was a fluid combat system that was equal parts enjoyable and rewarding. Even Thor: God of Thunder, another license-based title, left motion controls specific to just a handful of moves. Now that the Wii’s lifespan has just about come to a close, there’s no need for cheap gimmickry when you can have a fully functional and much more entertaining basic control system.
Unfortunately, repetitive waggle controls aren’t the only flaw working against Prime. While the brawling and shooting can be satisfying, camera angles are a nuisance all too often. It’s great that you can lock-on to enemies with the Z button and switch between targets using the D-pad, but certain instances result in targeting the wrong character (or some sort of land mine in the environment). Additionally, the closer you are to a wall, the higher the likelihood of the camera angles going haywire, turning combat into quite a mess.
The overuse of motion controls and the spotty camera really hamper what is actually a fun experience. When you’re not taking on a bunch of Decepticon underlings and bosses on foot, you’re engaging in brief driving missions. These are a lot of fun and usually consist of you chasing a fleeing baddie. Various obstacles stand in your way, but if you can blow them up, you can reap some collectible rewards. Hidden trinkets are sprinkled throughout all of the levels, regardless of whether you’re engaging in standard combat missions or driving stages, and snagging these pick-ups counts toward a level rank. This is definitely a nice feature as it makes grabbing collectibles relevant.
It’s a shame that the campaign in Prime only allows for one player to take control of the Autobots. The game would’ve definitely benefited from a local co-op mode but instead only provides a few basic competitive multiplayer options including deathmatch and point-based modes. It’s a bit of a downer, really, because Prime is one of those games that could’ve been so much more enjoyable with a buddy to watch your back.
This Transformers game on the Wii isn’t exactly a bad title. Quite the opposite, actually. Prime is a solid romp that’s marred by unnecessary motion controls and bad camera angles. Is there some fun to be had if you’re a fan of the TV show? Absolutely. And if you’re looking for a quick and entertaining game to play with your little ones, this game certainly gets the job done. If you need to scratch that Transformers itch and you’ve got a choice, though, you may want to check out the 3DS version of Prime before you commit to this victim of motion controls.
[Reviewed on Wii]
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