|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: A2M||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 24, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The game differs from LEGO Batman, however, when it comes to controls. When building games for the DS, especially games that really only need one screen, one of the biggest issues developers must face is whether and how to use the touch screen. Lego Batman handled the question clumsily, putting all the action on the top screen but still making the player touch the bottom one now and then, basically (and unnecessarily) turning the touch screen into another button.
Transformers Animated: The Game, by contrast, puts the whole shebang on the bottom screen (the top one does contain some information, such as how many of your three repairs you've used and how much life each character has left). This way, the game uses the touch screen to its full potential. For example, with Optimus Prime, you can trace the path you want your thrown axe to follow. And with Bumblebee, you can touch an enemy to fry it with your bolt. In the racing stages, you can touch enemies to attack them when you're standing up.
The game doesn't fare quite so well in the graphics department. The 2-D action does take place in a 3-D-looking world, and there's a decent amount of texture and detail for the DS, but there's nothing very compelling about that world. The visuals don't do much to draw you in; there's not much style or flair. The racing stages, which use the standard behind-the-car view, look only about as impressive as ancient Mode 7 games like F-Zero and Super Mario Kart. The driving stages supposedly take place in 22nd century Detroit, but there's no obvious indication of this.
The sound in this game is acceptable. It has the '80s rock-style Transformers theme ("Transformers! More than meets the eye!"), and the various effects and background music sound sufficiently cartooney. The clang of a Transformer landing on a factory floor is particularly satisfying. There's also a lot of voice acting between stages, and it's reasonably well done (the show's cast recorded the parts). Bumblebee mouths off when you select him, though, which is a little annoying.
As for the storyline, it's something similar to what you'd see in an episode of the show. The Allspark, the magical gizmo that grants inanimate objects life in the Transformers universe, has been broken into three parts and scattered. The Transformers have to fight through a bunch of enemies to collect the pieces before the Decepticons do; otherwise, Earth and Cybertron (the Transformers' home planet) will both be at risk. The game tells this story between the stages, through both brief cartoons and the aforementioned voice acted scenes (you'll see the head of whoever's speaking, along with the words, and accompanied by a voice reading the text).
Once you've worked your way through the story by beating all the levels, the game offers pretty much nothing in the way of replayability. There aren't any secrets lurking, and once you've solved a puzzle, there's not much of a reason to do it again.
A kid who loves the TV show might find Transformers Animated: The Game amusing for a little while, and some adults might enjoy the more challenging puzzles. However, most players who aren't blinded by love for Transformers will probably find this title a bit boring. There are better games like this out there.
CCC Freelance Writer