|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Another live-action Transformers movie has hit the big screen, and we've got the DS video-game counterparts that go along with it. Activision and Vicarious Visions join forces once again to bring the Autobots and Decepticons to Nintendo's handheld. Is this twin pack of games more than meets the eye?
As with the last set of portable Transformers titles, you can opt to play from either the perspective of the good guys or bad guys, but the gameplay is pretty much the same, regardless of which flavor you choose. The story here picks up after the death of Megatron and the destruction of the Allspark. The Fallen and his new leader, Starscream, are in search of the only remaining remnant of the crystal, the Allspark shard, with the intention of reviving Megatron and once again bringing the battle to the Autobots.
Whereas the last set of games were constructed using a sort of open-city hub with missions scattered about, this latest pair goes for a more straightforward approach. You'll choose missions from a world map, and the story progression is completely linear. Revenge of the Fallen, however, allows you to replay missions as many times as you like, and with a few character-building, RPG elements neatly tucked into the gameplay, it's an undeniably addictive formula.
Unfortunately, the actual gameplay and missions can too often feel like a chore, and issues with the camera and controls can lead to constant frustration. The mission selection varies from destroying all enemies, to protecting your allies for a set amount of time. Many of the missions are also time-sensitive, and this, too, can really stifle the experience. There are pieces of gear hidden within most levels, and by scanning them you can add them to your arsenal. However, since at least half of the missions force you to fight against the clock, you'll have a hard time getting at all of the collectibles within the game.
If you've played either of the previous two Transformers DS games, you should feel right at home here with the controls. Movement of your transformer is executed with the D-pad, jump with the B button, and attack with the Y button. You can lock onto enemies with the left shoulder button, but it's a bit hit-and-miss. Using the lock-on button is also the only way to control the camera, which centers the view behind your character. Alternating weapons and selecting the scan feature is done by tapping icons located on the touch screen, and it doesn't make for the most practical set-up in the heat of battle.
At the beginning of the game, you'll be asked to choose a vehicle form, and the options are comprised of light, medium, and heavy, each with its own set of inherent attributes. This aspect of the game does promise some element of re-playability (if you get into the gameplay), as each of the three vehicle options perform with noticeable differences. You can change back and forth from your humanoid form to your vehicle form on the fly, though vehicle controls are less than stellar. In vehicle form, you steer with the D-pad, of course, but you can also accelerate either by pressing up on the D-pad or by pressing the B button. The handbrake is mapped to the A button, which feels a bit unnatural. Still, the controls work, but the handling is pretty clunky.
Revenge of the Fallen follows a very predictable formula: complete three missions, complete a challenge stage related to each mission, run through a boss stage, rinse and well, you get the picture. Usually challenges are optional, but here they're requisite to moving the story forward. There are the occasional flying missions, but they're unremarkable to say the least. For the most part, however, missions consist of driving to an objective marker, scanning an object, and then defeating a few enemies. Combat can be fun, but enemies seem to have an unfair advantage in terms of how much damage they do. In missions where the clock is ticking away, it's difficult to get through in time without dying. You can choose to either stop and fight, in which case you'll often run out of time, or you can attempt to race through, only to get completely bombarded by enemy fire.