Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

transformers
5.0 Overall Score

Transformers themselves look great | Ability to play as autobots or decepticons | Multiplayer should add some more playability when you tire of the single player campaign

Incredibly lackluster presentation | Monotonous gameplay and repetative mission | Oddly implemented and needlessly complex controls

The summer’s biggest blockbuster has given rise to the summer’s laziest videogame in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a textbook example of the hurried, horrible cash grab that is the movie tie-in game. Though somewhat better than 2007’s Tranformers, which was based on the first film in Michael Bay’s big budget reboot of the classic toy-peddling cartoon series, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen still suffers from association with its celluloid counterpart, delivering a formulaic gaming experience full of noise and fury but signifying nothing. Taking a cue from his Hollywood highness, developer Luxoflux has created a videogame every bit as soulless as the machines stomping through its lifeless and colorless game world, utilizing the bare basics of game design in order to capitalize on the movie’s release. It’s sad really, seeing as games like X-Men Origins: Wolverine have proven that bad movies don’t necessarily have to translate into bad games. It’s a lesson that clearly does. not. compute. with developer Luxoflux, who have taken what could have been an entertaining and engaging romp through our collective childhood fantasies – because who didn’t dream of wreaking havoc as a shape-shifting robot from space? – and turned it into the last leg of a wallet-raping, memory-soiling race to part children from their allowances before they figure out there’s better games on which to spend it.

 

The single player is split between two campaigns – Autobots and Decepticons – which very loosely follow the events of the movie, borrowing major set pieces or plot points mainly as an excuse to shuffle the action around globe. From Shanghai, China to Los Angeles, California to Cairo, Egypt, you’ll be treated to the same boring, brown-hued environments, with the exception of brief jaunt to Megatron’s watery resting place. At least the character models are appropriately shiny, capturing the highly detailed look of their movie counterparts. For those who care, playing the game won’t spoil the film as cut scenes are composed entirely of the titular robots chatting it up in their respective war rooms between levels. It prevents the game from ruining Michael Bay’s effects-laded efforts, but it also makes it next to impossible to care about the purpose behind your missions when they’re just there to provide fodder for the next campfire gab session. Gab sessions filled with groan-inducing Cybertronian puns. Thankfully, depending on how you look at it, everyone but Optimus and Megatron speak in a barely audible whisper, their awkward attempts as humor drowned out by robotic sound effects.

But this isn’t a game about story or acting, it’s about the joy of giant robots running around beating the crap out of each other, or at least it would be if the curious controls and repetitive missions didn’t get in the way of the fun. The action plays out in self-contained arenas, where your timed objective will be to defeat a specific number of enemies, repair broken equipment, or escort/protect your allies. Rinse and repeat. No matter which side you choose, the missions are pretty much the same – repair a satellite dish as an Autobot, upload a virus as a Deception, it still amounts to holding down the B button. The missions are short, simple and repetitive. There are a few checkpoint races thrown in, but that just draws unwanted attention to the odd control scheme, which has you hold down the right trigger to transform into your vehicle. The problem is, the right trigger also controls your acceleration, which means your seamlessly smooth transformation from robot to vehicle is marred by your not so smooth rocket ride into the nearest side of a building. You can slow down by easing up on the right trigger, and handbrake using the left trigger, but stopping – not an option. Once you get the hang of it, it’s definitely faster to get around in vehicle mode, despite the cramped streets and crowded buildings cluttering the levels, but combat ends up feeling like a poorly planned drive-by.

 

There are five playable characters from which to choose, as either Autobot or Decepticon, each with their own primary and secondary weapons and special skills, like Bumblebee’s ability to stun enemies, Optimus’ temporary force field or Megatron’s massive, uh, cannon. In addition, advanced maneuvers can be pulled off by transforming into vehicle mode and back while still holding down one of the face buttons – you’re better off sticking to your robot roots, where you can strafe in weapons mode, than trying to perform the finger spraining acrobatics required to trigger a super jump or ground pound under pressure. Most of the time the game chooses which character you’ll use for a mission, but you can complete primary objectives to unlock the full roster as well as secondary objectives to unlock episodes of the Transformers cartoon, original paint schemes and concept artwork. It’s not the most enticing incentive the play through the repetative maps, but at least it’s something. The missions are timed, but you can’t fail by running out the clock – the speed with which you complete an objective simply determines whether you’ll receive a gold, silver or bronze medal, which in turn determines the amount of energon you’ll receive, which in turn is “spent” on various weapon and health upgrades. Every level ends with a diluge of numbers filling the screen. It’s a needlessly complex scoring system, influenced by completing bonus objectives, secondary missions and shooting skill targets scattered throughout the lackluster levels.

Seeing as the single player campaign already looks and feels like running around a sparsley populated multiplayer map, it’s a no-brainer for Revenge of the Fallen to go ahead and include multiplayer, a move that actually redeems the gameplay experience to a certain degree. The game actually becomes a lot more rewarding when you’re playing against actual people even though most of the modes are the typical no-frills fare, including deathmatch, team deathmatch and a variation on Capture the Flag which has you hunting down the five pieces of the All-Spark. The most interesting multiplayer mode, and the one getting the most online attention, is called One Shall Stand, where one player on each team is randomly chosen to be Optimus Prime or Megatron. As long as your team’s leader is alive, you’ll be able to respawn, but once they’re dead you’ll stay dead. It’s a fun twist on the typical formula, actually requiring a bit of strategy between you and your teammates – if you can find them, that is. With only up to eight people playing, you’ll still spend an inordinate amount of time driving or flying around the map in search of a fight, but at least it’s passing fun when you find one.

 

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is admittedly better than its predecessor, but much like the flashy, noisy spectacle on which it’s based, it’s as mindless and disposable as a so-called summer blockbuster can get. Don’t be distracted by the fiery explosions and shiny robots – this is nothing more than a bare bones mech game with a Transformers skin job, rushed to store shelves to make some quick cash. Neither the best nor the worst third-person action title currently cluttering the market, this exercise in mediocrity will surely sucker in a few gamers nostalgic for the source material, but it does neither them nor the shape-shifting robots that populate its lifeless, listless levels any favors in the process.

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Author: Kristen Spencer View all posts by

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