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Autobots and Decepticons battle in “Transformers: the Game”

Damon Jason | Monday, September 10, 2007

Transformers: The Game” parallels the summer blockbuster based on much-beloved ’80s pop culture icons the Autobots (good guys) and Decepticons (bad guys). The game’s loose plotline revolves around the “AllSpark,” or the life force of all Transformers. Somehow the AllSpark has fallen to earth, and the dueling forces of the Autobots and Decepticons must race against time and each other to retrieve it.

As cool as this may sound, eventually gamers have to play the actual game, which is broken up into two separate campaigns. The two opposing storylines are both painfully short, as the entire game can be completed in approximately six hours, and they are far too similar. In the Autobot campaign, players must retrieve the AllSpark while working to preserve human life. In the Decepticon campaign, players must retrieve the AllSpark while, in a shocking twist, working to destroy human life.

The Decepticon campaign might have been more fun to play if the environments were designed to be fully destructible, but they aren’t very consistent. Why is it that gamers can easily level a house, but chain link fences are as unyielding as the Great Wall of China?

Graphically, the game is respectably average. The in-game engine is done well enough that all of the Transformers resemble their cinematic counterparts.

But while it may just be nostalgia, the cartoon-like, anime-inspired versions of Transformers of yore are much preferred over the newly mechanized and industrial look featured in “Transformers: The Game.” The computer-generated cut scenes look beautiful, however, complete with voiceovers featuring actors cast in the film.

Each of the Transformers has its own unique assortment of weapons, which include both a primary gun and secondary missile. Any player must admit that running around with Optimus Prime and his double wielded pistols is one cool gaming experience. But all Transformers have the exact same three-hit melee combo, a circumstance that gets old very quickly.

The control scheme itself would be passable if it weren’t for the awkward camera angles that jerk excessively during battles. Occasionally, the camera work also gets “hung up” on buildings and other environmental elements.

For those not in the know, all Transformers also have a vehicle form. Even if gamers are spoiled by racing titles like “Need For Speed” and “Burnout,” is it wrong for them to expect somewhat realistic car physics from these vehicle formations? True, the game is, in the end, only a game. But when every Transformer’s vehicle form handles like a ’96 Buick Regal – read: not very well – one has to voice their concern. Gamers are forced to restart levels multiple times because the terrible handling for each vehicle prevents them from racing back to the green checkpoint beacon before time expires.

Ultimately, “Transformers: The Game” is only the latest in a seemingly endless series of shameless cash-ins to popular summer blockbusters. It looks and plays decently, but too much of the game feels like a “been there, done that” experience for most gamers. “Transformers: The Game” is fine for a limited rental, but there are far better games on the market that are deserving of any player’s