Giant robots have a hard time staying disguised nowadays. Activision is on the Wii U launch bandwagon with a few titles, including the recently released, Nintendo-only Transformers Prime. Initially released on Wii, DS and 3DS, this third-person action game is routine in its design. Grab a license, build a solid, if uninspired game around it and release it to the masses. Porting to the Wii U has yielded little in the way of advancing the game, but that doesn’t make it completely dismissible.
Prime is based off the cartoon series of the same name. The game throws you into the shoes of Optimus Prime, Arcee and Bumblebee among others. The story is derivative, and the execution is comparable to a Saturday morning cartoon, but it works. The game delivers on its source material and actually ends up being rather charming. The developers took what was good about the series and brought it over intact.
Coming to the Wii U, the obvious changes are in the graphics department. The game still carries the same look and feel of the previous versions, with a nice clean coat of paint. Don’t get me wrong, this game is not pushing any limitations of the hardware, but it is also far from horrendous to look at. The frame rate stays steady, and the designs are interesting. Beyond that, it feels like a Wii game in HD.
As for the gameplay, it also takes its cues from the other versions. This is a third-person shooter with the ability to transform into vehicle form at will. You lock on with the left Z trigger and shoot with the right. It is a formulaic design that simply works. Each level focuses on a different Autobot (sorry, no Decepticon campaign here) and tailors to their abilities. For example, Arcee turns into a motorcycle, and thus, a fast-paced chase sequence is the focal point of her mission.
None of it ever excels past point A to point B, beat boss, rinse and repeat, but it gets the job done. There is also a multiplayer versus mode, but it is local only. Here you can play up to two players and battle it out in three match types against the AI. None of it is overly exciting, but it offers a nice diversion. All the game types fit the archetypal categories such as deathmatch and capture motifs, but the brain dead AI makes it almost a chore to play at times. This is one game that could have benefitted from a co-op mode for the campaign, if it had been designed with that in mind.
The touch screen is utilized very little in the Wii U version of the game. Once you fill up your power meter, you can tap it to unleash your special power. That is it. Outside of playing the game using the screen itself, the developers really took no time to take advantage of the screen for other gameplay features.
Transformers Prime is not a bad game. It just lacks any sort of pazazz. The levels are straight-forward, the gameplay non-offensive and the multiplayer is just throw-away. Fans of the show might find enough to warrant their purchase, but if you own a 3DS, you can get the same experience for a lot less money. This is definitely one of those instances where the game was a quick port to fill a slot in the launch roster, nothing more, nothing less.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.