Transformers: The Game
For those of you not in the know, and judging by the films ruthless advertising over the past few weeks (months even) that isn’t many of you, Transformers is getting another movie, which is soon to be released here in the UK. So it should come as no surprise that following closely behind the film, or leading the charge in this case an official game of the movie has been released on every platform in existence. And if experience has taught me anything it’s that movie to game crossovers should be approached with extreme vigilance.
I guess it’s not entirely fair to tar every movie tie-in with the same brush. Not all of them are flagrant cash-ins riding on the success and popularity of the film it’s based upon. Recent examples include The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Spider-Man 2 and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (regarded by many as one of the finest shooters of the last generation). Sadly, the aforementioned titles find themselves in a very elusive party and Transformers The Game isn’t invited.
The story follows that of the film; the Decepticons and Autobots have continued their ongoing war on planet earth in search of a valuable artefact known as the AllSpark. This item is the life force of all transformers so you can imagine why these mammoth killing machines are so desperate to find it. As you could guess from numerous movie trailers, the location of the AllSpark lies with a young teenager named Sam Witwicky. From here on in it’s a matter of finding Sam, either protecting him from all kinds of evil or taking him from the heroic Autobots.
According the game box, “Choosing sides is just the beginning.” And this seems to be Transformers The Game’s biggest ‘pull’ if you can even call it that. At the start menu, players are given the option of playing through two campaigns as either the Autobots or Decepticons. It doesn’t matter which you choose first mainly because they’re both a misery to play through.
The Autobots campaign sees you playing as some of your favourite Transformers from your childhood including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Jazz. Missions are separated into chapters, all following an almost identical formula. Go to a green marker, race to a location within a specific time limit then fight it out with a swarm of enemies. The Decepticon campaign plays in exactly the same way but instead you are now the enemy. And everything is separated into two main categories: driving and combat.
The driving in Transformers The Game is some of the worst you will ever experience in a game. The handling is truly shocking at best; cars feel like they are on ice and making contact with any piece of scenery will result in the car completely stopping. Reversing will do no good as it doesn’t seem to respond to your command at all, this becomes increasingly frustrating when you’re just feet away from a target area with the seconds ticking away. Players not keen on missions with strict time limits should strongly consider staying away from this. In fact, anyone not keen on bad games in general should keep a safe distance.
The other element, the combat, fares a little better, which doesn’t mean much; it’s still very poorly executed. These ‘epic’ battles between giant machines and… giant machines are your typical scrappy button masher affairs. You can get through every one of the games fights just hammering on the X button. Three presses of the button should finish the job with the occasional task of picking up an object (a tree for instance) and throwing it at an enemy to stun them before going back to hammering on the X button. The lack of variety in the combat will soon wear thin and many groans will be had when a player must fight again. Even the Transformers weapons are nullified early on, shooting an enemy will yield little results and they become completely ineffective later on in the game rendering them useless accessories. So… back to that X button again.
By far and away Transformers The Game’s biggest plus and only redeeming factor are the destructible environments. Pretty much anything you see can be obliterated. This makes for one hell of a chaotic mess and is very satisfying at the beginning but even here, you soon see it for what really it is; just a mess. Too much is never a good thing and the same rings true here. At times there can be so much debris flying across the screen that it becomes extremely difficult to navigate your way through the city, and taking in to account the less than stellar driving I talked about previously, you can just imagine how exasperating it all soon becomes.
Because of the destructible environments it’s not too surprising to see that the visuals have taken a bit of a hit. The city is very bland, lacking any kind of charm or personality that separates itself from other games that have tried to create a living-breathing world for players to explore. The game lets you survey the city to do what you want, but if the developers couldn’t be bothered to make it interesting enough then why should players bother too? The Transformers themselves are highly detailed and look just like they should do. Actually transforming into a vehicle or vice versa is as cool as you would have hoped and it’s one of the few things in the game that doesn’t become old or stale.
As it’s a game based on a massive summer blockbuster movie, all the actors have provided voice work creating that authentic, Transformers feel. As a result this is one of the few areas that feels polished. The in-game music and sound effects are well done too, adding a sense of atmosphere to the lifeless actions on screen.
Thankfully in this case, the torture of playing through Transformers The Game is very brief and you will be done with the main stories in a couple of hours. For the select minority of players that want to see more of the game after completion, there are extra’s to be unlocked and watched as well as playing through dull side missions to unlock different skins for the Transformers. But these are just not fun enough to warrant the extra effort.
This is another sad case of a cash-in title that will only appeal to absolute die-hard fans of the Transformers series and in particular the new film. For everyone else, there is nothing of any merit here to justify spending £40 on this game, and on a next gen system, this is simply not good enough.
Four out of ten