The Dark Side of the Move Theater
I’ll admit that the first Transformers movie truly delivered on its promises: it was an exciting-but-kid-friendly sci-fi epic. The second one? Not so much. However, one thing that these movies had in common was that they both had horrible movie tie-in games. But just when you might have given up hope on decent Transformers video games, last year’s War for Cybertron came out, and it was surprisingly competent. So what does that mean for this year’s tie-in?
We recently got some hands-on time with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and, so far, it serves up a mixed bag. On the one hand, you’ve got satisfying third-person shooter-style gameplay. On the other, you’ve got typical movie-based problems like extremely short production times and a barely-there plot.
The level we played saw us taking control of series mainstay Bumblebee. Our goal was to destroy some type of Decepticon communication device that was hidden in the heart of a rural desert-like area. The stage itself was a little bland at first, with just a lot of sand and abandoned buildings dotting the landscape. But, as expected, things started to heat up once the Decepticons got wise to my device-destroying plot. The Decepticon goons weren’t exactly the most interesting to look at visually, and to be honest, the A.I. wasn’t the most challenging either. Still, I’m sure a lot of younger fans will be picking this one up (despite its “Teen” rating), so that’s probably forgivable.
Like in War for Cybertron, the game features very fluid combat, and you can switch between vehicle and robot modes as you see fit. We started off with vehicle mode, and were able to try a new “Stealth Force” mode that allowed us to lock on to our enemy and strafe them directly with the car. This feature is a lot of fun, making the combat feel fluid. If you just want to run through the levels at a high speed with explosions crashing around you, vehicle mode has got you covered.
However, if you have a “big bad” to deal with, then it’s time for robot mode. Of course, you can use either mode at any time, but using each mode at the correct time will be crucial in getting through the game with the least amount of resistance. While in robot mode, you will be able to use more powerful ammunition and you will also have a powerful melee attack. As Bumblebee, we had a killer spin-kick melee attack that was absolutely devastating to enemies, dispatching baddies around our target device without incident.
After we finished destroying the communications tower, it was on to the next objective. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Though we only spend a short amount of time with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, it seems like it’s going to follow the licensed game template to a T. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on your preferences. Going from checkpoint to checkpoint, blasting through levels, and shooting up Decepticons may not sound extremely innovative or groundbreaking, but for hardcore Transformers enthusiasts, this might just be the thing to satisfy that Decepticon-smashing itch.
Though we only got to play with Bumblebee, we were told that basically all of the A-list Transformers will be playable, including both Autobots and Decepticons. The game will feature a story that can be experienced from both sides of the conflict, so if you are a Megatron sympathizer (or simply wish to acknowledge his awesomeness), you can lead the charge against the Autobots. Hopefully this dual-pronged story mode will give Transformers: Dark of the Moon a much-needed boost in the play value area, which has generally come up short in previous releases.
If you are looking for innovation, Transformers: Dark of the Moon probably won’t impress you. The game looks to be more of the same third-person shooting that we’ve seen in previous releases. However, you could say that the third Transformers movie will also be more of the same, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the game would follow suit. Of course, we haven’t seen a whole lot of the game yet, so there’s still time for this one to impress us. I’m particularly looking forward to the Decepticon levels myself, as it sounds like those have some serious potential.
The game is releasing next month, so you won’t have to wait too long to know the full score on Transformers: Dark of the Moon.