Transformers: The Game
key review info
- Game: Transformers: The Game
- Platform: Playstation
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Having watched the relatively fun Transformers new movie, I was expecting to see some top class bot fighting and catch some vibe from my infancy. I grew up watching dozens of episodes of the Transformers series, collecting toy Autobots or Decepticons and waiting for some gadget around me to morph into a robot some day. Since that didn't happen, Transformers: The Game was my final hope for resurrecting the old childish feeling of seeing robots fighting each other. It turns out that the game is any fanboy's dream when it comes to its atmosphere, but otherwise it's just a mixture of GTA and a couple of badly implemented innovations. Don't forget to check out the cheats section for this title, even if you won't have any trouble with the AI.
We're dealing with two robot factions, fighting each other just because they like to hear the sound of metal being hit by another metal part. The fact is that the Autobots and Decepticons are fighting over the AllSpark, the supreme spark that gives life to the Transformers. The Autobots are the good guys, in charge with protecting the AllSpark, while the Decepticons, desire its power for evil purposes, like ... destroying mankind. After many battles throughout the Universe, the two factions arrived on Earth searching for the AllSpark and trying to end the robotic war one way or the other.
One shouldn't expect much from this game's plot as the so-called main character only appears from time to time. Sam is a classic teenage punk, who wants to buy a Camaro and have fun. However, his Camaro is not a regular one, as it's one of the Autobots that will try to protect him from the attacks of the Decepticons. That's all you'll find out, before starting to battle it all out against the rival robot faction, remembering from time to time to defend Sam.
Once you'll get over the well-done intro FMV (and watch it again), you'll be taken to the game's main menu, some sort of robotic Rubik's cube, that allows you to access the game modes. There, you'll have the option of starting a campaign or toying with the bonus features, galleries and movies. In Transformers: The Game, you can select either the Aubotos, or the Decepticons and control the robots pertaining to those factions. Once you choose the bots you like, the action starts and you'll soon notice that there's a certain feeling of freedom, that can remind you of GTA, but the free-roaming's not so free, when the mission objectives require a tight schedule.
You'll pick up a series of tokens on the way to your destination, but that's about all the extra things you can do, except for the main tasks. The environments are huge, ranging from military bases to a crowded city or a desert and there are tons of things to destroy in any location. If you've joined the Autobots' side, you'll play as Bumblebee (the Camaro guy) most of the time, but Optimus Prime and Jazz will also be available for you to play with. In the Decepticons' camp, Megatron, Starscream, Barricade and many other Transformers await you, ready to kick some metallic behind. You may be surprised to find out that there are quite a few controls to master, since the game uses most of the joystick's buttons. The R1 and R2 are cleverly assigned to the weapons, but you won't use them as often as you'd like to. Any mission can turn into a button mashing affair in no time and square is the button you'll be mashing, while bashing your opponents. Many of the buttons you'll use have a double function, depending on your robot's mode.
In the standard Transformers mode, players can use the L2 button to block attacks, while in the car mode, L2 becomes the handbrake and the X button gets converted from the jump button to the acceleration. With one press of the triangle button, you'll turn from Transformer robot to car of aircraft, speeding up to reach your objectives. Predictable as it may seem, the game's fairly short, each campaign taking up to a couple of hours to complete. Also, there's not much replayability, since you have to perform the same tasks over and over again during the missions. Personally, I enjoyed the Decepticon campaign more than the Autobot one, because some missions simply require you to destroy large areas of a city of military base. And, boy have I been waiting to do that!
An action game like this lives and dies thanks to its gameplay and I could say that Transformers: The Game is caught in between in some sort of coma. The fact that the missions and animations are repetitive can kill a player's enthusiasm, unless he's a die-hard fan of the Transformers series, who just likes to press the triangle button to see the robots morph. What I liked about this title was the amount of destruction you can do and the fact that you can interact with hundreds of objects that surround you. Having a hard time while fighting a Decepticon? Just pick up a huge bus from the highway and throw it towards the evil Transformer. Also, by pressing the circle button, you'll pick up trees and poles, which you can use to smack the opponents in the head throwing them many meters away.
In case this sounds like baseball, it sure looks like it, mainly because objects tend to fly a lot in the Transformers universe. The AI is not something you should worry about, as is seems implemented just to keep the fanboys going through missions without too much effort. Since the Autobots can turn into cars, there are some driving sequences in the game and sadly they're not enjoyable at all. Driving a car in Transformers: The Game seems like playing a GTA game while being drunk, or testing a videogame that has no physics implemented yet. Cars seem to float, and any object that you hit flies miles away. Ok, I see, the producers wanted to make the damage take proportions, making cars fly around, buildings get damaged easily and the robots crumbling to pieces, but this doesn't justify poor gameplay mechanics and a bad camera angle. Also, it's strange to see that the missions are split into sub-missions, some of them requiring you to perform ridiculous tasks like driving 10 seconds on a straight highway in order to reach a certain location. Also, even if this game is a ball and the AI's no challenge, you'll be frustrated by the fact that once you fail a sub-mission, you'll have to start the whole mission all over again.
Considering that there's one way to do everything and one route to reach the pre-defined spots the gaming experience tends to get annoying in the long run. Also, the action is being slowed down by the fact that you can't transform in midair, if you're an Autobot and you won't be able to transform on the ground if you're a Decepticon helicopter. I can't really see why one would fail a mission, except for those silly time limits that put a lot of pressure on the fanboys that thought Transformers was going to be a piece of cake. Even if I criticized the AI till now, I have to admit that it has its moments of glory, especially in boss battles. For example, I recall battling Barricade and at some point, while I was running away from him and trying to find a bus to throw at the demented machine, he morphed into a police car and got closer to me. I didn't expect this move and I couldn't see him coming, mistaking the police car for a normal vehicle. He transformed back into a Decepticon and hit me hard punishing my lack of attention.
You'll face normal Decepticons, drones and bosses along the way. The drones have small round life meters attached to them, so you'll see when they're about to get fried for good. Usually one melee attack dispatches drones, but things get tougher when you take on major Decepticons. I mentioned before that there's no way you can open fire, since it will be useless. This is true, mostly because of the bad targeting system and the fact that the enemy robots (and you) can block any shot. So, it all comes down to throwing some car at them to stun the baddies and then performing a melee attack. That's the entire fighting system of the game, the ideal method to defeat all of the Transformers. Fanboys, I'm sorry for you, I am one of your kind, but I'm also a reviewer and this title has some unforgivable flaws, as well as some memorable moments ... all three of them.
Probably the best part of Transformers: The Game are its graphics and I must say that the PS2 can really put to shame the other next-gen consoles, not because it surpasses their quality, but because there's not much of a difference between the looks of this title on the PS3, Xbox 360 and the PS2 version. The game's cutscenes are great, featuring graphics that are similar to those we've seen in the movie. At some point I was even ready to consider the animations better than those we've drooled upon in the Final Fantasy: Advent Children motion picture. One thing I almost liked about the visual aspect of this title was the moving camera. Once your Transformers started running, the screen would shake like there was no tomorrow, trying to give the gamer the feeling that he's wielding a giant robot in a pretty small town.
Getting past this handicap I was happy to find out that I could interact with the surrounding environments in a pretty unique way. Aubotos leave their marks on the ground, when walking, the buildings get smashed instantly, there are tons of explosions, you can grab literally any object or vehicle and the people are constantly running around. While this may seem a scene taken from War of the Worlds, it's not. Instead, it's what you'll see about 80 percent of the time when playing Transformers: The Game. Back to the negative aspects, you'll be frustrated by the fact that all the cars and buildings look exactly the same and the Transformers' combat animations are repetitive.
The audio segment of the game didn't impress me much, except for some orchestral scores that reminded me of Stargate, for some reason. Finally, here's a title that features the original voices of the actors from the movie, not those cheap wannabes. Optimus Prime, the most famous Autobot is voiced by Peter Cullen, as always one of the best choices for the Transformers cast. The explosions, robot taunts and the people screaming for help around you create a pretty unique atmosphere, fit for such an apocalyptic setting.
Well here we are fanboys! If you're not a Transformers fan, get ready for a semi GTA clone that's gone bad. In case you have pijamas with pictures of Decepticons on them, you'll love the graphics of the game and the way that the robots morph. However, even the fanboys will notice that they're dealing with a media product that's average enough to disappoint even the fanatics. A bad camera and AI, short campaigns and repetitive actions take Transformers: The Game to the pit of mediocrity, mixing it with the gang of titles that draw their inspiration from movies.