Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review
The first PS1 game I ever owned was the third-person shooter based on the Beast Wars Transformers. I was nine and at the perfect age to ignore the crappy combat and graphics in exchange for playing as my favorite Transformers characters. Like most children, I grew up to realize that many of my favorite movies, games, and shows were terrible.
This has been a common problem with Transformers. For every iteration, there seems to be a show, game, or movie that only goes so far in being awesome before it falls flat. Take the Michael Bay movies, for example. While the first movie was awesome, the second one was utter and complete crap. Bay promises to make the third tolerable, but that remains to be seen.
The same goes for the games. Probably the best Transformers game ever made was the 2010 War for Cybertron by High Moon Studios. Unencumbered by a film or a tv show, War for Cybertron stood out as a solid addition to the Transformers line-up.
So it's a good thing that Activision and Paramount brought High Moon Studios on board to produce the game adaptation of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The team decided to make the game take place between the second and third movies. Even better, they disregarded the human characters almost entirely. With none of the obnoxious human interaction, the game can focus on the robotic battles.
A good Transformers game allows players to get behind the wheel of many different robots in disguise. Some of the biggest names on both the Autobot and Decepticon sides make their presence known, and each one plays slightly differently. Bumblebee, for example, heads on a fairly straightforward path, while Soundwave not only infiltrates a volcanic military base but also lets players control the fan-favorite Laserbeak.
There's a lot of variety, but unfortunately only seven levels. Each one focuses on a specific Transformer. It took me all of about six hours to complete the entire single-player game. While a skill-combo system is in place for earning high scores, there is almost no reason to go back and replay a level other than achievement/trophy hunting. I wish that High Road had actually let players use a Transformer for more than one level, but that's that.
Another issue with the game is the pacing. The game randomly switches from Autobot to Decepticon. Players don’t pick a side to see what happens; rather, they assume the role of whatever robot is taking center stage. It’s a little off.
The transformations themselves are great. In War for Cybertron, the robots didn’t have to rely upon traditional brands, so even when in vehicle mode, the transformers could shoot and aim. In Dark of the Moon, the developers addressed this problem with the introduction of Stealth Mode. Allowing players to strafe and auto-lock while in vehicle form, Stealth Mode is almost more effective than the traditional robot mode. Players can auto-lock to have higher defenses. I actually beat a couple of boss battles in this mode alone.
Multiplayer is a whole lot of fun. With an experience system and four different customizable character classes, as well as unlockable Transformers not seen in the single-player portion of the game, there is a lot to work with. Players can choose from Scout, Commander, Hunter, and Warrior classes that range from jets to tanks. It’s a great version of class-based gaming, and transforming into the different vehicle types offers plenty of tactical opportunities. It's too bad that there are only a few levels and modes to choose from. Modes like deathmatch and one where you control areas on the map and aren't exactly unique, either. But they are fun to play.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a perfectly fine, if short, adaptation of the Transformers film. The characters are likable, and the different vehicle types work beautifully. If there were more to the single-player and the multiplayer were deepened, High Moon could have a hit on their hands. As the game stands, it’s a little weak, but it's one that fans should love.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]