With the new movie coming soon to theaters, there is a new Transformers video game for every platform under the sun. Again, Activision chose to make the Wii version more unique than its brethren, focusing on the Stealth Force mode featured in Dark of the Moon. They try to make it stand out in this way, but with sub-par graphics, boring gameplay, and an outrageously short campaign, this game seems to fall flat in a sea of movie license games.
In terms of plot, we are looking at a story loosely based on the third movie. Now, I haven’t seen the movie yet obviously, but this story focuses on the fact that it has been a while since the Autobots have seen the Decepticons. Megatron is back, and he is looking to create a weapon named Shockwave. The story takes place through cel-shaded cut scenes, which generally involve static images with a little bit of movement and voice over. You also have a look at both sides of the coin in the story, as you see what the Autobots and Decepticons are both up to. The story is decent, and basically just gives context to the missions that you are doing in the game.
In terms of gameplay, it is almost a Twisted Metal clone. There are two different modes that your character is in at all times: Stealth Force mode and driving mode. You move quickly in driving mode, as you are able to recover health and evade enemies. Stealth Force mode is where the action happens. You are able to hover over the ground, firing missiles and shooting a machine gun at your enemies. To use Stealth Force mode, you need to constantly collect Energon, which as we all know, is the life force of the Transformers. Energon also regains your health as well, so it is very vital to the overall gameplay. There are also missile pickups, as you don’t always have constant access to them. There are even power-ups that either give the character an unlimited Stealth Force meter, health bar or amount of missiles for a certain amount of time. All of these elements come together pretty well, but it’s when you actually have to control them all that it starts to get frustrating.
Most of the gameplay only consists of a few objectives, and they don’t vary too much. There are four main mission types, as well as four main characters that you can play as for each side of this war. You can play as Mirage, Ironhide, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee on the Autobots side, and Decepticons Megatron, Lockdown, Soundwave and Crowbar. The objectives consist of defeat everything on the screen, survive until time runs out, defend the objective or drive through the checkpoints in a certain time limit. All of these are used about three or four times a piece, and they get very old.
The defeat everything missions, as well as the others consists of you defeating a lot of nameless light, medium and heavy enemies . The only switch-up in terms of gameplay is that a couple of the later levels involve a boss fight, which consists of defeating a bunch of cannon fodder, till a much more powerful foe, usually a high end Decepticon or Autobot joins the fight. This mission structure is pretty bland, and ends up making the campaign a very tedious romp that doesn’t really stand out.
The controls can be very convoluted, as a lot of the elements that you have to control can cramp up your hands very quickly. It doesn’t get too frustrating until the later levels when you’ll have so much to manage that the controls get in the way. There were times where I actually had to think about the buttons I had to press, and in a fast paced action game, that is never good.
With regard to graphics, this game is not pretty. Some of the textures are downright ugly, but the environments themselves are not too bad. Some areas of the game are pretty deserted, and you are left with recycled assets for each of them. There are certain areas that looks really good, and some that look downright horrible, so there are vast inconsistencies. The cel-shaded cut scenes actually look the best, as they are the most interesting. The problem is that I think they were trying to go for an overall cel-shaded look for the game, and they didn’t seem to get it to pan out.
Now, I know most of the voices from the movies, and it seems to me like only a few of them are used here. The voice acting is good however, and shows the bickering of some of the Decepticons as well as retaining the attitudes of the characters that I have seen in the films. The music is standard Transformers fare, and usually filters into the background.
The story mode however, is ludicrously short. Consisting of almost 20 missions, it took me about three to four hours to finish the whole thing. Now, there is a co-op mode, but this just consists of bringing in a friend to play alongside you in the missions that are already in place. This gives the game a little more length, but it’s still, at most, a six to seven hour time frame to get through everything.
The game is fun; don’t get me wrong. I did have a good time going through the missions, as I do really enjoy Transformers. It just seems to me that the game is more suited to a younger audience, and that is why I think it felt so short to me. I have a feeling it could have taken someone younger a lot longer to finish.
Overall, there are not too many problems with the game, but it just doesn’t come together well. It doesn’t really have anything that truly stands out as the problem; it just wasn’t fully realized as a good game. They could have taken many directions with it, but they decided to keep it on the simple movie-based game side, which is disappointing. With the strides they made with some of the Transformers games of the past (specifically, War for Cybertron), it really saddens me that this is what they came up with to go alongside the new movies coming out.
Review copy provided by publisher.