Transformers: The Game is perhaps one of the most disappointing games to come out this year on any platform.
That's a bold way to start the review, but I think it's important that you know straight off the bat what's going on here - this is a review for a decidedly average game.
It's unfathomable that such a great concept could be turned into mediocre title. Giant transforming robots fighting in the city streets - that's supposed to be the recipe for an awesome video game. It made for an awesome toy line, an awesome TV Show, and an awesome live-action movie, so why not an awesome video game?
The game’s poor design and technical woes are what let everything down.
As with the Spider-man 3 game I was duly surprised at how many steps backward the new iteration of the series took from its previous title. Spider-man 2 was pretty good; Spider-man 3 was awful. Transformers: Armada was awesome; Transformers: The Game is irritating.
Armada set up what a good Transformers game needs – big badass action with massive transforming robots equipped with an arsenal to put parades from the Cold War to shame. And truth be told, this new game has those things, but it is in the way they are incorrectly used that disappointment can be found in droves.
The story goes much like the films; however, it is told a lot more loosely, and a lot more transparently. If you've seen the film, you'll know that the story wasn't its strongest aspect - but here it is even weaker. Two warring factions of robots - the heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons - have come to earth to retrieve an ancient artefact known as the AllSpark which houses the ability to create sentient robotic life (i.e. more Transformers). The key to finding this item is in the unwitting hands of a young teenager named Sam Witwicky...From here it's self-explanatory, as the 'bots must find the boy to find the AllSpark.
It's unfortunate that the story wasn't given much emphasis as the voice acting which delivers it is actually really good. The original voice-actors of the 1980's cartoon are back, but limited only to Optimus Prime and Megatron. There's something quite special about hearing these two voice actors pair off against each other after all these years, which is at least one good thing any fan can take away from this game to cherish. Rising star Shia Lebeof is here too, reprising his role from the movie as Sam, and just like in the movie he does a fantastic job.
There's one other good thing about this game, and that's how beautiful it looks. The robots are highly detailed and their transformations believable. The environment they're in has been designed with Michael Bay's films in mind. That is, they're gritty and loaded with high-contrast and lense flare effects. This is a great looking game, but don't let the cover fool you - the pages within this book just aren't as good.
You'd think there'd be a decent amount of variety in the missions, I mean, you're a machine who has two forms, and that should mean a bunch of exciting gameplay, right? Wrong. Instead we're given a bunch of 'drive here, destroy these guys, then drive over there and do the same again' missions, and when you're not doing that you're racing against a timer to save Jazz (who seems to be the most useless Autobot since Wheelie in the cartoon series) or to bust some Decepticon face.
Timers are the bane of the video game industry; they're awful, annoying and absolutely unnecessary. Note to developers around the world: stop being stupid, stop using this feature.
Should you arrive at your destination (within the time limit) the game sets up an artificial invisible battlefield border. Leave this border for too long, and you have to start your whole mission over. This is particularly fun when you aim to chase an enemy who has left the area only to find yourself being chastised for doing so, and even better when you're thrown out of the area and can't make your way back because of the awkward place you've landed in.
Combat, the meat and bones of the game, is horrendous. I'm talking about walking in on your sister sleeping with your best friend horrendous. For some reason all those massive guns the robots have don't have any effect on other robots. Yeah, makes so much sense, right? Especially when those same guns can blow holes in buildings and totally obliterate vehicles. So how do you down your enemy if your machine-gun, rocket-launcher and plasma cannon aren't having success? You punch them - three times to be exact - and they fall. The same applies for bosses too, except more punches are needed. There is a lock-on system but it doesn't work; I'm pretty sure Miyamoto and Link are feeling awfully dishonoured right about now.
Going the route of the evil robots, the Decepticons, is definitely more enjoyable, and not because the mission structure and variety are any better, but because you're encouraged to blow things up. Like any other self-respecting gamer I'm quite a big fan of blowing things up so this went down a treat. Also, being able to fly is a nice touch.
Transformers fans won't need a review to justify purchasing this game but that won't stop me from strongly recommending against such an action. Give it a rent, see what you think, but don't expect anything quite like 2004's fantastic Transformers: Armada. If you are really desperate to buy a Transformers movie game, get Transformers: Autobots on the Nintendo DS. Yes, it's actually a whole lot better than the Xbox 360 version, sad, eh?
Liam’s Second Opinion:
It's not often that we at NZGamer do second opinions – this is only the second time I've been asked to chime in about a certain title. But the reason it happens is because people are different and we have different tastes: that's what makes it great to be human.
Mayur didn't like Transformers: The Game, and that's fine because he is entitled to his opinion and he backed it up well. You can't fault his reasoning at all – but it is just preference.
Personally, I loved one of the major complaints Mayur had about the game: the timed missions. I'm a big fan of putting pressure on the player, rather than letting them bum around at their own free will. Don't get me wrong, you can still do that in Transformers: The Game, and I do frequently. However, it's nice to see that Transformers: The Game offers an actual challenge: something that is missing in today's industry.
Mayur said that timed missions are the bane of the industry. I cried foul when Jet Set Radio Future forsook the frantic finishes of Jet Set Radio in favour of a more leisurely pace. Different folks, different strokes.
Ultimately, what I am saying is that Transformers: The Game isn't Halo: a game that all but the iconoclastic like. Instead, it's one of those games that you are either going to love or hate. For me, blowing up a building and then backflip transforming into a helicopter to take out a plane is what video games are all about, and this game delivers. I haven't had this much fun with a video game for a while.
Ultimately, the bottom line is that Mayur has perfectly outlined the game and the reasons he didn't like it. All I'm saying is that some people, like me, find those parts of the game to be a positive, and it's up to you to work out whether or not they sound like positives or negatives for you.