How Does a Game Like This Even Get Made?
There are certain things that you just can’t forgive in the world of video games. I’m talking about those very specific flaws that seem so obvious any random hobo on the street could point them out. Making a Transformers game without transforming is one of those flaws.
This is the case with Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition for the Wii. It’s a Transformers game that doesn’t allow you to transform into a giant robot. Oh sure, you see giant robots in cutscenes, but you play through the entire game as a car. This defeats the entire premise of Transformers, which, if I’m not mistaken, is supposed to be “robots in disguise.”
Trust me; it only goes downhill from here.
If I had to compare Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition to any other game, it would have to be Twisted Metal. Since you are stuck in car mode the entire game, the game is centered on vehicular combat. Unfortunately, the control scheme doesn’t work. To turn, you use the analog stick. To throttle forward or reverse, you also use the analog stick. Because of this, it’s hard to turn and throttle at the same time, meaning most of the time you’ll stop when you try to change direction. It tries to make controlling your car as simple as controlling a character in an action game, but only succeeds in making the controls far too clunky to actually be usable.
Now, these are only the controls for your basic vehicle form. This is supposed to be a quick form that gets you out of danger. In fact, you can’t even attack while in this form; you can only run away. It’s unfortunate that the control scheme basically makes you let off the throttle if you want to turn, because you’ll lose speed any time you need to change direction. This is exactly when the enemies in the game like to gang up on you, so it feels like you are fighting the controls more than you are fighting the Decepticons.
If you want to attack, you’ll need to go into stealth mode which is a total misnomer considering this is actually your heavy battle mode. In stealth mode, your control scheme changes—for no good reason. Steering is now controlled with the d-pad, and strafe and throttle are controlled with the analog stick. No, I’m not kidding. The game needlessly complicates things by remapping your controls in the middle of battle. The camera doesn’t change its angle unless you use the turning controls, so it’s not even like you can ignore the control scheme change and strafe all the time. That’s just mean.
While in stealth mode, you can fire a main gun which costs no ammo, or a secondary weapon which costs “Energon Ammo” to fire. Unfortunately, both of these weapons are extremely boring. The main gun is near useless regardless of its fast rate of fire. It’s basically just there to make you feel good when you don’t have Energon Ammo. The secondary weapon is supposed to be different for each Transformer, but more often than not it’s just some variety of missile. These are literally your only two options of attack in the game.
To use stealth mode you need to collect Energon cubes that refill your health and stealth force meter. While in stealth mode, your stealth force meter drains, and if it’s reduced to zero, you’ll revert back to vehicle mode (well, more boring vehicle mode). Remember, in vehicle mode all you can do is run away. This basically means you are forced to continuously refill a meter just to play the game. This also means that half of any mission is wandering around looking for Energon cubes while your enemies, who apparently don’t have the same restriction, pelt you with bullets until you die.
Speaking of enemies, where did all these Decepticons come from? Most of the game is spent blowing up nameless, faceless, Decepticon grunts. Every so often, a major villain stops by, but that’s only after you have destroyed several foot soldiers. It’s almost like Dynasty Warriors on wheels. The training mission alone tasks you with blowing up thirteen Decepticons. That’s more than were in the movie.
That’s really all you do in the game. In each stage, you are put in a nondescript landscape and told to blow up all of your enemies. Sometimes you’ll have to blow up a specific enemy, or blow up all your enemies within a certain time limit, but that’s about all the variation you will see. The most the game strays from the formula is when you are put into “race” missions where you have to collect a certain amount of items before a clock ticks down to zero. While I thought these could be a refreshing departure from an otherwise boring pattern of gameplay, they are just annoying because the control scheme is so clunky it’s nearly impossible to collect all the items in time. So instead, you’ll find yourself wanting the same old “blow up the enemies” gameplay that you were already bored of after Mission 3 anyway.
The stages are entirely uninspired. Sure, you will blow up enemies in a desert, city, tundra, and more, but the gameplay is always basically the same. Buildings, rocks, trees, and any other environmental objects are nothing more than variations on “that thing that gets in the way of your gun.” None of the maps are particularly hard to navigate, and the textures and models are so bland that you’ll honestly spend more time looking at your radar.
There aren’t a whole lot of game modes to choose from. Your first stop is the story mode, which in my opinion was downright painful. Supposedly, the story is supposed to serve as some sort of prequel to the upcoming movie, but nothing important happens. It feels as if the entire plot is just a framework to keep you blowing up enemies. Apparently, the plot of the Wii version actually intersects with the plot of the Xbox and PS3 versions, which is a stupid writing choice. This means the only way you can get the full story is by owning every system and purchasing every version of the game available. Hey Activision, my diet consists of Ramen noodles. I’m not rich enough to buy Transformers three times.
The biggest slap in the face is the fact that the campaign only lasts about six hours. That’s easily rental length. If you really want more, you can replay sections of the story in mission mode or bring a friend along for co-op, but neither really gives the game anymore replay value. You are still doing the same thing in the same levels without any variation. The game’s marketing says co-op was specifically designed for the Wii, but all it’s really doing is adding another car to the missions that already exist.
Maybe I’m coming down a little hard on this game, but I’m a Transformers fan. I grew up with the robots in disguise, and heck, I didn’t even really mind what Michael Bay did with the movies. But a Transformers game where you can’t transform? How did that even get made? This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Trust me, you aren’t missing anything by passing this game up. Optimus Prime is dead, and it’s this game that killed him.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.0 Graphics
I don’t expect much from a Wii game in the graphics department, but this game looks flat and boring any way you look at it. 1.5 Control
Two weapons per Transformer, no ability to go into robot mode, controls that change when you go into stealth force mode, and a bar that give you a limited time to attack your enemies. What were they thinking? 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
At least Optimus Prime sounds just like he should. 2.3 Play Value
It’s short, it’s unfun, and its story doesn’t get resolved until you go see the movie. This isn’t a game; this is a marketing ploy. 2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best