First and foremost, I have to tell everyone who is reading this review that I am a big Transformers fan. That being said, I looked at this game with every hope that it would good or at very least enjoyable. By and large, I did find some parts of it fun especially with how good the various Transformers looked and the smoothness of their transformation sequences. However, the rest of the game did not fill me with the same level of satisfaction as watching them transform did. I’ll explain why in a moment.
In case you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll explain briefly and without summation. The Autobots and Decepticons have come to Earth in order to get to the mysterious Transformer artifact called the ‘Allspark’ which is the source of all Transformer life. Whoever has the ‘Allspark’ will have the power they need to triumph over the other, so it’s a race to find it. Pretty simple.
So, that’s what -you- out there have to do… find the Allspark and use it to take down the other side. You can play as either the Autobots or the Decepticons through a variety of missions. Each mission is done with a particular Transformer and takes place in areas like Hoover Dam, the city where Spike Witwicky lives, or the fictional Mission City. The game holds more or less true to the events of the movie, but what the game fails to do is pull you into the game.
The missions are basically formulaic no matter what side you play on. The Autobot missions started off with you as Bumblee chasing all around town in order to keep Spike Witwicky and his new love interest out of trouble from the Decepticons. If you at home are hoping for regular battles that reached that the thrilling levels of what you saw in the movies then I’m afraid I’m going to have to be the bearer of bad news: they just aren’t. Most of your battles are done with numbers of identical “drones” from both Autobots and Decepticons that will also feature a “boss” drone that will take more to destroy… specifically, having lampposts thrown at it till it explodes. Be sure to hug a lamppost next time you see one.
In a move that flies in the face of the current gaming trend, the in-game physics are less like something from Paramount and more what you’d see from Warner Brothers. You can hit a car at 100 MPH and all that will happen is that it will fly backwards into the air totally undamaged. The Blue Brothers was more realistic. The NPC AI that is the humans, share things in common with the cars: they have no brains and are totally unable to be damaged when you run into them at top speed. When you roar down the street and decide to take a joyride on the sidewalk the citizens will still to run about aimlessly, which works, but they won’t even try to get out of your way, which doesn’t. But since they don’t get hurt even if you do collide with them it’s all good. It’s a friendlier Grand Theft Auto.
Boss battles do happen at various times throughout the game but the repetitive nature of these soon causes any excitement you might have left to dissipate… In the Autobot missions, for instance, you are thrown into a battle with Barricade. I was excited at this point, but despite the drone fights, which at least had some old fashioning smashing as a highlight, the boss fights were so dull. The boss will mainly be in some impenetrable state, as with Barricade which his swinging arms, which can be easily stopped by throwing something-anything- at him. Then you leap in, punch until you get knocked back, and do it all over again.
Now, that was the -bad- stuff. I’m going to talk about the -good- stuff now.
The Transformers look really cool and also have nice little moves that make them show how much work was put into their design. For instance, in Blackout’s entry mission, he will sail backward when hit by an explosive device in robot mode. He’ll fly backward and then ignite boosters, stopping himself, and then lightly touching down on the ground. And, with all the Transformers, their transformations sequences are probably the most satisfying part of the game. No matter how annoyed I got at the repetitive nature of the gameplay or Prime’s Johnny Two Time impression I still thought “cool!” when I hit that button and Bumblee shifted into his claptrap Camaro form or Blackout into the imposing PaveLow Helicopter. Thank you, Sikorsky!
The bigger environments are nice and roomy giving your wheeled Transformers the chance to drive anywhere does anything they want. The extras and little fun things they toss in aren’t all bad to my mind either. You can play as the G1 Megatron, the old reliable Walther, and the G1 Starscream to cruise the skies as an F-15. Also, the mall in the city where Spike lives was called Metroplex.
Yeah. Think about it.
So, in conclusion, you need three things to make your way through this game. 1) An absolute love of Transformers, 2) being perfectly happy with explosions substituting for plot and 3) believing that the game will be worth it at the end…even if it’s not.