Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Game Room: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

PREQUELS ARE FUN! They're also the latest and, in my opinion, best decision to ever be integrated into movie games. Not only does it eliminate the requirement of having to follow the movie's script during development, but it also slightly lowers the chance of the game out-right sucking. The game tie-in for Transformers: Dark of the Moon is lucky enough to be a prequel to the actual movie, setting up a few things and fleshing the story out a bit more. However, does this mean it escapes the fate that most movie games face? Lets take a look....

The game itself has a few things going for it. Other then the prequel factor it's also made by High Moon Studios, the guys who brought us the best Transformers game to date; Transformers: War for Cybertron. Even better is that it's built upon a basic version of the WfC Gameplay engine which means it plays the same as WfC, which is also why is this game not worth the immediate purchase? Well the main reason, and this game's downfall, is time. Specifically, the little amount of time High Moon had to create this game.

Gameplay, as stated before, is very similar to War for Cybertron. You technically have 3 modes to play with; Your robot mode, your vehicle mode and your "Stealth Force" mode. Stealth Force is basically a weaponized version of your vehicle mode which provides a bit more armor and allows you to move around freely. Pressing the left trigger acts as a boost mode and transforms you into your full vehicle mode in the process. You'll most likely spend most of your time in robot mode while transforming when times get tough and you need a quick getaway or boost in fire power. Sadly, though, the regular vehicle mode seems borderline useless since you'll probably only boost if there's a time limit you need to watch. The rest of the time will probably be spent in vehicle mode since you don't have to worry about being gunned down after transforming. You also don't have to worry about running low on ammo, since both modes come with unlimited ammo. For some reason, though, you still have to reload. I honestly would have liked it if there was a cooldown meter instead, since it would probably be more in line with the movie universe.

The single player follows the Autobots as they search high and low for Megatron's location as well as the location of any Decepticons still hiding out on Earth. Meanwhile Megatron has Soundwave and Starscream to do what they can to stall the Autobots as well as begin setting his new plan in motion while he begins the task of freeing his newest follower, Shockwave, from his icy prison. The story itself is easy to follow and does its job of moving the game along, but there are a few split second moments in it that feel rushed and were added just to tie it into the movie, such as the Decepticons launching a ship into orbit and Megatron randomly scanning his new truck mode. The missions themselves are pretty straight forward; move from objective to objective while holding off waves of Autobots or Decepticons. Each level is diverse while mainly switching between urban and natural areas, ranging from Mayan ruins nestled within a lush jungle to the shattered blocks of downtown Detroit. Single player consists of 7 chapters; 3 Autobot, 3 Decepticon and the final boss battle. Most of the chapters feel like they have a good length to them, why does it feel so short? Well, to put it bluntly, it's not a hard game. Even on the hardest difficulty it doesn't take much to push through a chapter, even the ones where the gameplay switches up a bit, like Mirage's stealth section and Laserbeak's base least until you hit the bosses. One thing I like about single player is how fun some of the bosses are to fight. Most are kinda easy, such as Warpath and Starscream, to the point where you can just stay in Stealth Force mode the entire time and do a respectable amount of damage. The rest are fun, the best, in my opinion, being the battle between Starscream and Stratosphere, a gigantic Autobot cargo plane that also doubles as a mobile NEST base. I can't help but feel, though, that if they had more time to put into the game that the fights may have been as fun and intimidating as the fights against Zeta Prime, Soundwave or Trypticon in War for Cybertron. Overall the single player is short and easy to get through, but stays fun throughout.

Also returning is the Multiplayer mode, only much more basic and condensed from WfC. All classes share the same perks and boosters with different abilities being assigned to specific character models. Players can now either play as an actual movie character or a custom colored version of their model and the max multiplayer level has been brought down to 20 as opposed to 25. Unfortunately it doesn't feel like it would hold someone's attention long after they max out all of their classes, which is much, MUCH easier to do here and could probably a day at most if you play nothing but multiplayer. The gameplay also takes a good amount of getting used to. The robots move surprisingly slowly and the weapons just don't feel like they do all that much damage, taking more then a clip and a half of ammo to kill an opponent. The maps look good, but are a bit too small to really do anything strategic. Finally, the game types are limited to three; Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch and Conquest. While it seems kinda poor it makes sense considering they were the only gametypes anyone played during WfC. The only other mode I would  have liked to see was Escalation, but sadly that is missing entirely. The multiplayer is overall fun, but forgettable once you've done and seen everything.

So after all the poor points I pointed out you'll probably expect me to say not to buy this game. Well quite the contrary. In my opinion, you should definitely buy this game, just not at $60. The short single player, quickly forgettable multiplayer and lack of most of the features that made WfC awesome keep this from being a really good game, but it's still fun to play. A great weekend game at most. If anything this game's biggest hurdle was the development time, which was a few days short of a year between WfC's release and this. With the care High Moon put into WfC I am certain DotM would have been just as good if Activision had given them more time to work on gameplay, content and story. As is, it's worth 30 bucks at most. While I don't feel all that disappointed with the game at full price, I can't garuntee that to be the same for everyone else, so either wait for a price drop or rent it. It may not be the best movie tie-in, but it certainly is far from the worst.

It all comes down to this. After six days of reviews, tomorrow will be the week-ender. Stay tuned as the Addict Overview of Transformers: Dark of the Moon is right around the corner!

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