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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Less than meets in the eye – a phrase that could easily be applied to the first video game tie-in to Michael Bay’s action-heavy robot opus, Transformers. It was a lesson in mediocrity, and as such, a new developer has been handed the reigns to the sequel in a bid to make giant transforming robots fun again. How hard can it be?

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In truth, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a much more focused project than it’s movie counterpart. While the film struggles to find its tone, the game firmly knows what it wants to be: a third-person-shooter and little else. You can play through both an Autobot and Deception campaign, getting your hands on five robots in each. From fan favourite Optimus Prime, to Bumblebee, Starscream and evil villain Megatron – complete with a reprisal by original voice actor, Frank Welker. Since most of the characters transform into ground-based vehicles there’s not much of a difference between each one – even when you eventually get your hands on some flight-based Transformers. You have primary and secondary weapons at your disposal that range from machine guns, homing missiles, snipers and a few special Transformer moves you’ll remember from the movies. This gun combat can be combined with some hand-to-hand fighting manoeuvres and vehicle-to-robot transformation special moves. Splitting your time between each is the ideal way to get the most out of Revenge of the Fallenand add some much needed variety to the gameplay.

You see, while it’s fun, it does begin to outstay its welcome long before the relatively short campaign modes are over. There’s just not enough diversity to missions. You’re normally just shooting waves of enemies with the occasional escort or defend mission thrown in for good measure. The lifeless, generic city locations don’t help matters – especially when they’re re-used in both campaign modes; often with the exact same mission objectives. In short bursts it can be enjoyable, but play it for any prolonged amount of time and you’ll easily begin to tire of shooting the same enemies over and over again.

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There are, however, some extra bonus objectives to keep you fairly occupied between all the robot killing. For instance, pulling off ten headshots with Sideswipe’s sniper will unlock some bonus goodies, with similar tasks assigned to each mission and Transformer. These unlockables can be things like concept art – which seem to have become industry standard in recent years – and, most impressively, entire episodes of the original Transformers TV show. Obviously this is brilliant for fans of the show and even newcomers that want to see what the 80s smash hit was actually like. There’s probably more fun to be had watching the show than actually playing the game – an idiosyncratic way to praise it’s inclusion.

Away from the single player action there’s also a certain degree of fun to be had by taking the game online. Obviously it’s not going to match up to the likes of Halo 3 or Call of Duty, but Revenge of the Fallen features a competent multiplayer component that doesn’t feel like it was tacked on for the sake of it. You have your basic multiplayer modes with team deathmatch and capture the flag, but just going head-to-head against a team of Autobots or Deceptions is the main draw here. Transforming in and out of your two forms while fighting other people is just the kind of situation you’d come up with when playing with your Transformers toys as a kid, so obviously it’s a lot of fun to do it against real people here. It may not have the longevity of other multiplayer games, but during these long summer months it can be the perfect antidote for your boredom.

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It may eventually begin to tire, but Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has the robot mechanics nailed down. There are some overly complex button combinations that could be ironed out, and the vehicle controls are a little odd, but aside from these minor issues the combat hits all the right notes. It’s just a shame that there isn’t more to it. There’s no real structure to each mission, and the level design is poor at best. With more interesting locales and mission variety, Revenge of the Fallen could have been a whole lot better; as it is, it remains just above average. If there’s a space in your heart for the Transformers then there’s definite appeal here, but as a regular Joe looking for an action game, there’s plenty better on the market.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @richardwakeling.

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