If you’re familiar with my columns chances are you may have read my review about “Transformers: War for Cybertron” – the last Transformers title to hit stores shelves. WFC was by far a shocking surprise and easily turned into a must have title for any video game library.
Well it’s now the summer and time for the third flick in the Transformers trilogy to grace the big screen. With the release of the movie usual entails the following of the sidekick video game which on a normal day I would cringe. Games based on films typically aren’t very good. They are normally rushed and just a weak clone of what you’d see in the movies.
After hours of gameplay, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” seems to be a bit of both.
The fantastic thing about WFC was that there was no movie script to follow and it created the robotic world of Cybertron that all fans have come to know. A place where two ton robots battle it out. Now the interesting thing about the newest Transformers title is that it does follow the script of the new movie but it kept one very important thing; the fantastic gameplay. The crown gem of WFC was how it played. The way the robots moved, fired and most importantly, transform.
What has changed from the past game is that when you change into vehicle form now, you are so much more powerful than your robot form. Weapons also don’t need reloading and have an increased power themselves.
While in robot form, you no longer have the ability to pick up other weapons – a letdown in my book – and running out of ammo never becomes an issue.
The good news is that each robot still has two abilities for their character. The controls are still tight and feel great just like we remember in the previous game which is an extremely smart move on Activision’s part.
The campaign consists of seven different levels with each one putting you in control of different Transformers. The levels, as well as the Transformers themselves, lend a sense of variety that keeps things fresh.
The length of the single-player campaign feels short, but there’s no chance of getting bored thanks to changing things up in each level with different weapons and abilities. In my opinion, the most enjoyable level comes when you play as Mirage who has the ability to become cloaked and do a little stealth maneuvering. Beyond this however, the gameplay boils down to running and gunning enemy robots and transforming to get from point A to point B faster.
The controls are simple enough and laid out in introductory tutorials to make them accessible even to younger gamers.
Nothing in Dark of the Moon is ever overly complicated, but the level design does leave a little to be desired. Sometimes you’ll find yourself wondering where you’re supposed to go next. Other times you’ll just feel hampered by the tight spaces you’re trying to maneuver through. This becomes most evident at times when you’ve got your Transformer in the tricked out and beefed up stealth form. It’s nothing that will ruin the overall experience for anyone, but does add a little unneeded frustration during play.
If you’re like me however, you’ll wish the levels were a little more open so you could take out enemies in the more creative way, which in Dark of the Moon means plowing them in regular vehicle form at full speed and sending them flying in the air and crashing to their doom.
The audio and visuals are just as solid as everything else, but neither breaks any new ground. As mentioned above, the level design seems sparse to say the least. Even the machines and access points you interact with appear to be a little drab. The waves of similarly designed enemies will bring back memories of games like “Streets of Rage” with one identical silver baddie after another coming at you in some of the longer levels.
Audio isn’t bad, but after a little time of hearing same sound bites, you might want to turn the volume down.
Thankfully, the online competitive mode is still present and just as much fun as it was in the original game. Online, you can choose between four classes broken up based on abilities. You have soldiers, scouts, commanders and hunters. All of the customary modes are here, including Conquest, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. You’ll also earn experience, unlock new abilities and all of your standard multi-player functionality that you found fantastic in WFC.
High Moon’s Transformers games are one of the few online experiences that seem to actually set themselves apart. Whether it’s the fact that you can switch forms for a new dynamic, or the nostalgia we all get playing as our favorite robots in disguise online, the multiplayer gives the game replayability that we expect from a top shelf game.
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is one of those games that you want to love. There is nothing that is really broken, but when you are the follow-up to the best Transformers game ever made, things tend to stand out. With the removal of two of the most prominent features from the original game and a dramatically shorter campaign, you can’t help but feel like the game was rushed to make the movie deadline. It is disappointing to say the least, especially coming from such a huge fan.
“War for Cybertron” still stands as the best Transformers game to grace video game consoles, but if you’re tired of last year’s game; you won’t be disappointed with Dark of the Moon. I only wish I could promise the same will be said for the Michael Bay film.