• “Transformers, robots in disguise”. Come everybody, sing along! Those of us old enough to remember the original cartoon and comic book series’ will forever have these lyrics burned into their brains.

    The new generation of Transformers have changed dramatically from their early roots. Today’s larger-than-life CGI versions of Autobots and Decepticons that appear in this Summer’s feature film show how the franchise has “grown-up”, moving away from their original children’s-only audience and into the mainstream, appealing to both kids and adults alike. The same can be said for the movie tie-in Transformers The Game from Activision. The game, which follows the plot of its movie counterpart, lets gamers choose which side of the battle they wish to engage in by offering both Autobot and Decepticon single-player campaigns in the quest to regain the immensely powerful AllSpark artifact.

    Transformers: The Game

    As is traditional with movie tie-in titles, Transformers The Game does some things quite well and other things…well…not so well. The strongest feature Transformers has going for it is its presentation. Graphically, the game looks pretty sharp, especially as your avatar is transforming. The game’s third-person camera does a fair job following the action as you move around, although, as has been an issue with this perspective in games before, it can prove to be quite unhelpful during heavy action sequences.

    The environments in Transformers The Game look good, although there’s nothing groundbreaking here. Developer Traveller’s Tales does deliver on their promise of a destructible environment as nearly every object in the game can be blown-up, shot up, picked up, thrown or destroyed in one fashion or another. While the game’s buildings won’t crumble and fall to the ground when fired upon, they will lose their brick and mortar facades leaving only their inner framework behind.

    The game is designed for quick pick-up-and-play with a simple, easy to learn controller layout. Both younger and older gamers should find the learning curve quite small as the game’s on-the-fly instructions quickly teach you everything you need to know to start creating havoc amongst the denizens of the town.

    The early missions of the game are fun and showcase some great visual effects, but the entertainment soon fades as the missions become more mundane and the early “wow” factor of scampering around the city as a gigantic mechanized alien dissolves into the realization that, in order for you to move around with any real speed – and many of the missions require that you reach certain checkpoints within a limited period of time – you need to spend most of your time racing along the roads as your vehicle counterpart.

    In addition to storyline missions, the game also allows you to free-roam where you can seek out hidden items to unlock the game’s Bonus Features (i.e. movie clips, character art, etc.), participate in side missions, build up skills or just go around busting things. Random nemesis battles will also pop up while roaming, giving you a chance to practice your fighting skills on weaker enemies.

    The storyline in Transformers The Game, presented in cut-scenes between missions, is jumpy at best, moving along in quick chunks with little explanation as to the “what and why” of the plot. While we’re certainly not talking about a Lord of the Rings type storyline here, it still would have been nice to have had the story for Transformers make a bit more sense.

    What’s truly unforgivable in Transformers The Game however is its lack of online multiplayer. The entire premise of the game lends itself perfectly for LIVE play, yet it offers nothing. It’s rare for me to say this (I am a true fan of single-player campaigns) but Transformers could conceivably have been a much better game if the folks at Traveller’s Tales had forgone the single-player campaign altogether and instead designed the title as multiplayer-only ala Shadowrun. Even an overdone mode such as King of the Hill would have been immensely more enjoyable than running around the town collecting hidden icons in order to unlock Bonus Feature movie scenes. In defense of the developers, I realize that time and resources are very limited when it comes to producing a movie tie-in title. Content is usually dictated by whoever is footing the bill for production and the need to hit the “un-missable” release date leaves little room for creative experiments.

    Overall, Transformers The Game is fun to play in small doses but don’t expect it to capture your attention for hours on end. The game’s cool visual effects, along with the ability to play as both Autobots and Decepticons help detract a bit from the game’s flaws, but not enough to forgive the lack of a multiplayer mode.

    Score: 7/10

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