British developer Traveller’s Tales has the haunting duty of bringing the Transformers franchise to life for the new generations of consoles, while staying faithful to the legacy of the 1980s animated show and the new Michael Bay’s movie adaptation. Can they overcome the overwhelming odds and create a classic worthy of the Transformers legacy?
Transformers fans can finally mark 2007 as the year of the Transformers. The Michael Bay/Steven Spielberg live action movie has been released to high praise and the game tie in comes in hoping to cash in as well. It's been a while since the loveable robots in disguise have had this much attention and if you'd ask me, I'd say they deserve it. The game and movie both have high standards to achieve if they want to meet or surpass the level of the average Transformers fans expectations. Unlike other 80s cartoons like the 'Silver Hawks' and 'Thunder cats,' Transformers is still fanatically followed with action figures, comics, and online creations. This means the game will be under judgmental eyes for those hoping for the first worthy Transformers video game.
The answer to the question does the Transformers: The Game lives up to our expectations? The answer is sadly no. Without dragging on the verdict, Transformers: The Game simply falls into the bin of mediocrity. This is unfortunate because the Transformers have a rich and robust world that could be exploited and possible best realized in game form. I’m sure The Movie game adaptation won’t be the last Transformers video game, so I still have hope for a brighter more “cartooned” future.
The Transformers game has some redeeming qualities like the Transforming, the scale of the world, two playable storylines, and included selection of Autobots and Decepticons. At the same time the Transformers have some flaws like unoriginal missions, weightless feeling world and characters, online multiplayer, and a general lack of variety. I tried hard to get into this game playing on both sides of the war and still no matter how many times I replayed missions or ventured on in the games plot, I felt disappointed. Transformers has to be slapped with the tag, "if only".
For our review we took a look at the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii version. Obviously the main differences between the two are the controls and graphics. If you want more interactivity, pick the Wii version. Traveller's Tales did a good job re-mixing the controls to include a number of swipes and other actions compared to the straight ahead Xbox controls. If you want achievements and a boost to the graphics you will need to fire up your Xbox 360. I would give the edge to the Xbox 360 for the main reason that I like to relax when playing action games, but considering there is no online options, you could safely go for either version and get the same experience.
For a games plot you can choose which side you of the transforming giants you want to play, either the Autobots who are trying to save humanity or the evil Decepticons who are plotting to destroy the earth. The two sides of the Transformers have different storylines that run through the game with the Autobots loosely based on the movies plot. Both feel are a little unfulfilling even with some cool in game cut-scenes and the redesigned Transformers.
In the Autobot campaign you will start off playing as Bumblebee who has been upgraded from a Volkswagen Beetle (Generation 1) to a 1960 Camaro. You fall into the movies plot with this one involving the character Sam Witwicky and the hunt for the Allspark. You then have can take hold of three other Autobots, the boss man Optimus Prime, Ironhide who has been remade into a GMC Pickup Truck from a Mini-Van (Generation 1) and Jazz the Porsche 935 Turbo (Generation 1) turned into a Pontiac Solstice. If awards were given out, I think Bumblebee wins "best Autobot makeover"... sorry Jazz you're days are passed.
The five Decepticons are the helicopter Blackout and his companion the scorpion, Scorponok. Barricade a transforming Saleen police car, Starscream the popular jet fighter transformer who thankfully stayed close to his roots and the villainous leader Megatron who unlike Starcream has had a make-over from gun (Generation 1) to Cybertronian jet. The Decepticon Campaign is based on destruction as you search for the Allspark as well and didn't seem better or worse then the Autobot side. I like the destruction aspect, but like the entire project there isn't much to hold you're attention for more than an hour or so.
Even with all these cool characters the actual in game controls of the each character feels the same, even though they each have their own distinct characteristics and abilities. Like I skimmed over earlier in the review the game engine has no weight to it and everything from objects in the world and the main character seem like styrofoam cut-outs coasting along in a styrofoam world. This definitely dents the believability of the game and hurts its overall production. It seems like developer was too ambitious for the games obviously time restraint development time. Like other movie-based games, Transformers doesn’t get any extra privileges because it’s a childhood cartoon loved by the thirty something crowd.
If you want to look at the good points you could highlight the instant transformations which are cool, the varied gameplay elemements which never seem implemented properly like going from flying to walking, or driving to climbing. Also the game managed to gather the voice actors from the movie including the stunning Megan Fox. They also have the original voices from the 80’s animated series, Frank Welker and Peter Cullen. Transformers also boasts some unlockable content like art and movie clips and a few Generation 1 skins for Optimus Prime, Megatron, Jazz and Starscream. All in all its not bad if they gameplay held up its side of the bargain. Even with all the features in the world, if the game doesn’t feel right, its going to be a hard sell.
Transformers: The Game isn’t the Transformers game, Transformers fans want. This rendition is the movie-based game treatment similar to Spider-Man and X-Men. Transformers: The Game is an average showing with a lot of potential that was wasted by the limited plot line of the movie, repetitive mission objectives and a faulty game engine. In its heart, Transformers probably wanted to be more than what it is, but in the end the spark doesn’t have enough juice to keep me playing more than a few hours. At the most, Transformers: The Game should be picked up as a rental. If you want to another alternative try Transformers Armada published by Atari in 2004. Now let’s hope for a true 80s revival in game form we have all been waiting for.