Tech News on G4
New Transformers game doesn't have the touch
June 29, 2011
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
No one said it would be easy to follow up the greatest Transformers video game ever made, 2010's "War for Cybertron". If anyone could do it, though, it would be the developers of that game, High Moon Studios, right?
Not so much.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon provides a few thrills during its too-short campaign, but when all is said and done, it's all too forgettable, and is a mere shell of the gem that came before it.
The game takes place shortly before the Dark of the Moon movie, which is about three years after the events of the second film in the Transformers trilogy, Revenge of the Fallen.
The evil Decepticons haven't been seen in a long time, and some believe them to be defeated. A transmission is intercepted by the Autobots, though, which exposes Megatron's plan to cause chaos around the globe in order to spread fear and distrust among the human population. The Autobots do their best to stop this from happening, but they're unsuccessful.
Dark of the Moon is split up into seven chapters, with each one revolving around a specific character from the Transformers universe. Players will control both Autobots and Decepticons, although for the most part, controls are mostly the same.
Anyone who played War for Cybertron - and probably even those who didn't - will be right at home here. This is a fairly standard third person shooter, and there isn't much strategy involved as you traverse each map. You're a transforming alien robot after all, and when you're faced with wave after wave of enemies trying to stop you, there's only one thing to do: fight fire with fire.
Every character gets multiple weapons, and every weapon gets unlimited ammo. For the most part, you'll be running or driving around shooting anything that gets in your way. Switching from robot mode to alternate mode (inexplicably known in this game as "Stealth Force Mode") and back again is an analog stick click away.
High Moon Studios made playing in robot mode next to useless though. In Stealth Force mode, your weapons are more powerful, you don't have to reload, you move much faster, and you can take more damage.
That being said, the level design for the most part is made up in such a way that getting around in vehicle mode is pure frustration. Actually controlling the vehicles rarely feels smooth, and pulling off e-brake manouvers rarely works. Then there are the numerous random environmental obstacles that seem thrown in by some bitter coder just to keep players from gaining any momentum.
To be fair, this isn't always the case. The two best sections of the game involve sections where the player is urged to use Stealth Force mode. Driving as a sports car on a deserted highway as the cocky Mirage as he's being hunted by Starscream is absolutely thrilling. Sadly, the second part of the level involves Mirage losing many of his abilities and having to sneak through several sections.
The best level sees Starscream taking part in some good old fashioned dogfighting against several Autobots, including three Aerialbots. Once Starscream manages to take his foes out, he then has to land midair onto the cargo plane Stratosphere and take him apart piece by piece.
This is unfortunately one of only a few sections of the game that shows some true imagination and excitement. Most other levels involve simply blasting through enemy after enemy. There are a few decent boss battles as well, but again, these aren't enough to save the game.
Besides the controls, there are other annoyances in DotM. There are many sections where players are completely blindsided by a ton of overpowered enemies, resulting in unfair deaths. There are a few sections that require too much trial-and-error, and on top of that, checkpoints are too often less-than-forgiving.
In War for Cybertron, it was easy to see the love put into the game's storyline. With DotM, the plot is as unimaginative as they come. It's neat seeing Ironhide walk through a battered city of Detroit, complete with the General Motors headquarters visible in the distance, but this attention to detail is rare in DotM. Most of the game is made up of bland environments that could be anywhere.
The graphics certainly aren't anything worth writing home about. The 'bots don't seem to have the attention to detail that was apparent in War for Cybertron, and there's a ton of pop-in as you traverse the different levels.
In terms of audio, it's neat hearing a lot of the movie voices (including Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime), but again, this isn't enough to save the game.
There is a multiplayer component to DotM, but it's a shell of what was available in War for Cybertron. The new game is missing the brilliant co-op mode Escalation, as well as a few competitive game modes. What gamers are left with are two deathmatch variations as well as Conquest mode, where teams fight to control points on the map.
There's a levelling up system, very rudimentary character customization, killstreak rewards, and decent maps. There's also a really annoying announcer voice, some seriously overpowered weapons (a problem that plagued War for Cybertron before some patches fixed things), and character classes that were dropped altogether.
The multiplayer that is available is all functional enough, but considering everything in Dark of the Moon - plus a whole lot more - can be accessed in War for Cybertron, it makes DotM's multiplayer basically moot.
The most hardcore of Transformers fans may find more to like in Dark of the Moon, but even then, there's very little fan service paid to the loyal devotees of the world of Autobots and Decepticons.
With this game, there really isn't more than meets the eye; it's simply a movie tie-in that lacks all kinds of originality and fun.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
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