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DEVELOPER: Atari   |   PUBLISHER: Atari   |   RELEASE: 05/11/2004

It seems generations have passed since The Transformers first appeared in 1984 on the TV in front of millions of young impressionable viewers including myself, which then ended in 1987; to many young viewers despise. But thanks to the magic of technology and a few dreams not quite lost, you can play as Optimus Prime and a select few of his Autobots as they battle against the evil Megatron and his Decepticons in the “Armada” era of the series.

Graphically speaking this game is surprisingly pretty especially considering the machine that it has to run on. The details on the environment and individual bots are very nicely done and the “transforming” oh my dear goodness it just brought back all the beautiful memories of my youth… I almost cried. Just watching Optimus “transform” from Semi-truck, to robot form, back to Semi-truck is just mesmerizing. I didn’t have to actually play the game to get my enjoyment out of it, I could have just sat there hitting the “Triangle” button over and over transforming.

Now I know what you’re thinking. The graphics are good and the “transforming” is good but what about the sound. Well this game has plenty of sound to go along with the game and it goes beyond the simple “pow pow” or “z-zap” of just lasers blasting. An example of this would be on the first mission in the Amazon where you hear everything from frogs croaking to rivers rushing. There is also voice alerts in the game from your teammates stationed back at the “HQ”. This is where they send you messages to “alert” you of incoming baddies or to inform you of certain directions or paths that you need to go to complete a mission. And before you question yourself, yes the “transforming” sound is there as well. Now every time you “transform” it is a complete orchestrated ensemble of art and sound combined.

The storyline of the Transformers is pretty simple and won’t keep you guessing much. You play the Autobots (Optimus Prime, Red Alert, or Hot Shot) as you search Earth for lost mini-cons before the Decepticons (Megatron, StarScream, and Tidal Wave) find them. Now if your an old school Transformer fan your probably thinking “what the f*** is a minicon”. Well a minicon is a small breed of robots from Cybertron that upgrades either Autobot or Decepticon. You use these minicons as “smart tools” for your bot attaching them to your body. These minicons provide you with special powers, be it homing missiles, blaster shields, or energon vision there are over 40 of these little guys to find and add to your arsenal. Amongst the findings you will run into several and I do mean several Decepticons and Deception slackies (aka: Decepticlones) to blast, punch, or simply “run over”. There is no ending to the action in this game for it seems the Decepticons have endless drop ships full of their bots just waiting to happily drop them off right in the direction that you are traveling.

Now after all of these things that I have talked about the most important aspect to look at is the game play. How does it handle? Is it complicated? Will I get arthritis? Well in robot mode the game handles like a 3rd person shooter (or first person if you use it). Its not complicated or anything you just move a little sluggish but since you are playing a 3000 lb plus robot (18960 lb if you play Optimus) its kind of expected. There are two problems with this mode that I have. One problem is the jumping aspect. When trying to jump up on top of something (i.e.: a rock) you can not be standing right in front of it or else you’ll “bounce” back from the rock. Way to remedy this is to get a walking start towards the object you want to jump onto then jump.

The other problem that I have in this mode is the sliding. Especially when you have to walk a narrow path and make turns. I guess its the momentum that makes you slide but it gets a little frustrating when you keep falling off at the same exact spots over and over. In vehicle mode the game gets a little more complicated. I have found that the vehicle mode (while extremely cool) is useful only in strait stretches. For the most part your vehicle will be bouncing around too much to make turns and some of the boards are just too dense with either trees, rocks, walls, or anything else you can think of. The best method of playing the game is to find a spot where you need to get to, find a strait stretch, drive “balls to the wall” fast, hit as many decepticons you can along the way and then transformer flying through the air spinning with your guns blazing. If you do that you won’t be disappointed.

Some additional presents have been set in the game for us fans. Remember when I was talking about finding the minicons. Well there are hidden packages that hold some very nice surprises. Some of these surprises include; Old public service announcements from the original Transformers generation 1 cartoons, original Transformers theme music, the CGI videos during the game, concept art, toy pictures, transforming instructions, and many other fun things to play with. I just love games that have extra stuff in them… sort of like the hidden easter eggs that you can find on your DVDs.

Overall this game definitely deserves some attention especially from fans of the Transformers. I gladly spent $50 to buy this game and I think many other people that purchase it will be pleased. Only thing that could have made this game better would be if it had the original Transformers and Megatron was the original “pistol” and not the “Tank” but just for the pure fact that you can play Optimus Prime (the baddest Autobot ever) and “transform” over and over made me rush to the nearest game retailer and buy it. Not too mention that if it sales good… who knows maybe we can expect a G.I. Joe game in the near future or maybe even a Thundercats game. We “older” gamers can only dream and hope. “Till all are one”

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