|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, 3DS|
|Dev: High Moon Studios|
|Release: June 14, 2011|
|Players: 1-10 online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Transformers: Dark of the Moon for the Xbox 360 and PS3 is pretty much just another quickly churned out movie tie-in game with a short campaign and questionable controls. However, it could be a lot worse. I actually had some genuine fun with it at points. It has a decent concept that at least proves the development team was trying to create a new and interesting gameplay experience. While it has some glaring flaws, I'd still say it qualifies a decent rental title at least.
The story is, unfortunately, the worst part of the game. It revolves around the ongoing battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. A recent plot by the Decepticons to repair Megatron and resurrect a powerful soldier named Shockwave could turn the tide of the war, so it's up to the Autobots to stop them. The plot is actually a prologue to the movie which comes out later this summer. As a result, nothing interesting happens in the game itself and the ending is an abrupt cliffhanger. All the conflict resolution is kept for the big screen.
The game actually kind of writes itself into a corner when you consider the nature of its gameplay. Throughout the game, you'll play as both Autobots and Decepticons. While this is really cool from a gameplay standpoint—who doesn't want to fly through the air with Starscream?—from a narrative standpoint it makes it hard to back any one side. Sure, you already know the Decepticons are evil if you grew up with the Transformers cartoon, but that just makes playing as the Decepticons feel a little awkward. You don't want to stand up and cheer when you slaughter everyone around you as Megatron.
Thankfully, the game can be played while ignoring most of the story, because the gameplay is actually rather interesting. All Transformers can take three forms. In robot form, the game controls like a third-person shooter with dashes of platforming added in. Each Transformer has unique special weapons and abilities to choose from, which keeps the game from getting stale. Bumblebee has the basic panoply of guns and missiles while Mirage has a cloaking device and sniper rifle, making his missions play out much more like a stealth game. Megatron, on the other hand, has the ability to siphon life from everything around him. It sure does make you feel like a supervillian.
Each Transformer can also go into vehicle mode, which operates basically how you would expect it to. When you turn into a car or a truck, all you are really doing is driving, while turning into a plane gives you freedom of movement through the air. The controls are a little loose. Turning feels more like pivoting and hoping friction guides you in the right direction, and you'll actually spend most of the time bouncing off walls to guide you in the right direction. Vehicle mode is actually better looked at as a sort of prolonged dash. You move far quicker than you do in robot mode, and this lets you cover massive amounts of ground in a short amount of time.
The final mode each Transformer can change into is "stealth mode," which is a misnomer: it's actually just a car mode with weapons. While not as fast as the basic vehicle mode, stealth mode will let you to turn, strafe, and move in ways that vehicle mode doesn't allow, while still traveling faster than you do in robot mode. You also have weapons in this mode, but they aren't as powerful as your weapons in robot mode.
The most interesting part of the game is how you use these three modes together in order to solve puzzles and defeat your enemies. If you find a wall is too high to jump over as a robot, you may have to ramp over it as a car. Similarly, if you find yourself speeding down a highway only to find a section of it has crumbled away, you can just jump over it in robot mode and be on your way. Navigating cramped city streets filled with rubble and debris, on the other hand, is a natural fit for the tight controls of stealth mode.