Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review
Written : Tuesday, July 12, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams
For those of a certain age, like me, we all know how excited you were upon discovering that your parents had got you the toy of the year for Christmas. Forget My Little Pony. It was unwrapping Optimus Prime that will forever live on as one of the highlights of our younger days. Of course, being older and armed with powers of hindsight brings two realisations. Firstly, that we should have left that bad boy untouched in his original packaging and made a killing years later. Then, secondly, that we should have asked for Megatron because he was much rarer and would have made us EVEN MORE, though perhaps we are just missing the point of childhood wonder. Anyway, after their glorious 80s heyday, the robots in disguise have been subjected to the rather dubious honour of being reinvented by one Michael Bay. Cue a game tie-in that leaves us hankering for better days.
The real issue here is the fact that this game just feels rushed from head-to-toe and never makes you feel like the central characters are any different from any number of faceless game characters in a plethora of third-person shooters. What makes Transformers so great is their ability to, you know, transform into stuff. So when that ability seems to have been rendered rather pointless then what else do you have to fall back on?
Facial renovation, Autobot style.
Rather than aping the narrative of the most recent film this game serves as a prequel of sorts, and displays the events that lead up to what you can see on the silver screen. With both factions trying to outwit one another and gain a foothold on Earth: the Autobots in harmony with humanity and the Decepticons by kicking the hell out of them. The story is split into two halves with you controlling both factions for a few levels before then having a ding-dong boss battle at the finale to finish up. This is all well and good but frankly things never really make much sense, with you leaping from location to location with no real purpose and characters being introduced almost as regularly as they are killed off.
It doesn’t help matters when the gameplay is so average either, as you just blast your way through a series of linear corridors knocking aside nameless assailants before finally having the chance to beat up on a foe you may actually have heard of. Your attacks are limited to a couple of weapons with each character and then some bog standard melee and grenade attacks on top. Enemies take very little punishment before being cast aside, and even the boss fights are just exercises in learning pattern repetitions. Things are mixed up a bit by the secondary abilities which let you have access to additional weapons, stealth or enhancements but they are little more than a distraction from the constant blasting.
Shoot him in the crotch - if he has one.
At no point do you ever really need to alter in vehicle form either, despite the fact you can use Shadow Force weapons and have a slightly increased defence threshold. Occasionally you will need to transform to get through small passages or navigate the odd obviously long tunnel, but that’s about it. The cars can also strafe in a bizarre fashion while transforming which just doesn’t feel right at all. It is a far cry from doing the franchise justice and you will probably just spend the majority of the game stomping around in robot form dispatching foes left and right. The only areas that deviate slightly are a rather tiresome jaunt with Laserbeak that sees you flying through a hidden base to gather information, and a flight level with Starscream. Both of them soon devolve into more of the same however and outstay their welcome in short order.
It is hard to say whether it is a boon or not that the game is so short and repetitive. You will have seen pretty much everything on offer after the first level with everything else just a variation on the same theme, plus the poor handling when in vehicle form and occasionally dubious camera only make matters worse. The pain will be short lived though as there are only seven levels and you will probably blitz through them in about four or five hours. That wouldn’t be an issue if you were having fun, but alas this is not time that has been well spent.
Strangely the same fault can be laid at the door of the online action too, as there is just not enough on offer to keep you coming back for more. There are only three modes, two of which are deathmatch based (team and solo) and the other being the far more entertaining conquest. You get to choose from four different robot variants each with their own weapon set and abilities, plus as you gain experience you can level up and unlock even more items so you can tinker with your layout. The problem comes with the fact you can max out each class in only an hour of so of online play assuming you do reasonably well. Once they are all maxed out then you are purely playing for pride on the same few maps against the same few players, usually with Mr Lag as your constant companion.
Megatron – still angry and therapy is NOT helping.
Assuming you decide to splash the cash then you will be rewarded with a bunch of easy achievement points, in fact you can probably max out the whole of the game in less than seven or eight hours if you set your mind to it. That includes the rather simple and choppy multiplayer stuff too. Pretty much everything is tied into progression through the main game, with each mission having one or two specific tasks to accomplish as well as the fact the have to hit a certain points limit on each level too. The problem is that the points required are staggeringly low and can usually be well beaten with very little effort. Assuming you want an easy thousand points then this game is for you.
With a short and unfulfilling single-player campaign and an equally unfulfilling multiplayer component, it is hard to recommend this game to anyone, whether they are fans or not. The gameplay is stale and repetitive and the ending is pretty much a non-event with no great revelations to help the movie out. This is a rental at best and even then you will wonder whether your time could have been better spent elsewhere. Transformers roll out – to the bargain bin.
Decent voice work, but amazingly clichéd to boot plus full of the same lines being churned out time and again.
Not terrible, but amazingly rough around the edges and the same few enemy models pop up over and over.
A tiresome third-person shooter that, at best, is simple enough to plough through with few issues. Though the problem there is the dearth of fun that occurs while you’re doing so.
A disappointing Transformers game that reduces the key ability of its heroes to a mere sideshow, while going through the motions of a generic story. The laggy online offering is the (crappy) cherry on the cake.
A very easy collection of achievements that only serve to highlight the linear single-player and shallow multiplayer on show.
A disappointing offering and one that is especially perplexing after War for Cybertron offered so much potential. Every aspect of this game is lacking in some way and the only boon is the fact it is mercifully short. Childhood memories – consider yourself crushed.