'Transformers' game good fun, but it doesn't last
By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
By Marc Saltzman
The game: "Transformers: The Game"
Platforms: Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 2 and 3, Nintendo Wii
Developer and publisher: Traveller's Tales, Activision
Rated: T for teen
With movie-based video games, it's kind of like with movie sequels, you hope for the best but brace for the worst.
The good news about Activision's "Transformers: The Game" is that it will exceed expectations even among jaded gamers who bought horrible movie tie-ins such as "Ghost Rider" or "Shrek the Third."
It's not a flawless masterpiece, but it succeeds at capturing the over-the-top action in the feature film upon which it's based.
"Transformers: The Game," like the movie, tells of warring robots — the Autobots (good guys) and Decepticons (bad guys) — trying to find a powerful artifact, the AllSpark, which is responsible for giving the robots life. To keep it from being used for evil, the AllSpark was jettisoned into space, eventually landing on Earth. Now these dueling robotic races — also known as "Transformers" because they can manipulate their metallic bodies into vehicles, such as cars, jets and helicopters — fight among humans on Earth to find the AllSpark first.
This single-player game first lets you choose whether to play as an Autobot or a Decepticon, each with unique environments and missions. For example, the Autobot missions begin in a suburban neighborhood, where you first assume the role of a yellow-and-black Transformer named Bumblebee. As Bumblebee, you must fight Decepticons, transform into a car, race around an open-ended city, protect a teenager who holds the key to finding the AllSpark and so on.
The Decepticon missions begin with your robot, Blackout, in the form of an attack helicopter, and you must destroy an army base before the clock runs out. Throughout these campaigns you'll also step into the metal bodies of Optimus Prime, Mega-tron, Starscream, Jazz, Ironhide and others.
The award-winning game makers at Traveller's Tales ("Lego Star Wars" series) did a great job giving you the feeling of controlling enormous machines. Kick an enemy and it flies back 100 feet, taking down trees and walls with it. Pick up a bus, target an opponent and throw the bus at him. Climb tall buildings, then jump from roof to roof with ease. Transform from a jet into a robot or from a robot into a speeding car.
"Transformers: The Game" also features gorgeous graphics — especially with the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 versions — but this game doesn't rely on just its good looks to keep you interested.
That said, "Transformers: The Game" isn't perfect. The game is quite short, only offering about seven or eight hours of play between both sides of the story. Sure, you can take on optional side missions or replay past missions, but they don't really play out any differently. And there isn't a multiplayer mode for online battles.
Little strategy is required during combat sequences. A few punches and kicks and the enemy is down. For enemies you can't get too close to, simply pick up a lamppost or car and toss it at them. Perhaps the game was geared more toward novice or younger players, but simplistic fighting and a short campaign are not a good combination.
But fans of the film looking for a gratifying, albeit short-lived adventure, "Transformers: The Game" is a good and good-looking action game. You might consider renting it over the weekend, because you may be able to finish the game before the weekend's over.