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The Transformers
Score: 72%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Mission-Based Driving/ Third Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
Having been over two decades since the original Transformers animated movie, the long-awaited live action version is set to be the smash hit of the summer (as long as Executive Producer Steven Spielberg keeps a tight leash on the ever-disappointing Michael Bay). Naturally, with such a movie coming out, you're going to have a game to go with it. Transformers: The Game appears to have incredible potential, but can it live up to the millions of fans of the franchise? Not likely.

Visually, the game is near perfect. The 'bots are built to mirror their on-screen counterparts, and they are animated very smoothly. Lighting effects are a tad on the weak side, but that may be a PS2 fault, not a game fault. There are some minor clipping issues, but only when playing as some of the larger Transformers, such as Optimus Prime or Blackout.

The smaller detail effects look good, though there is not much variation. Every building of one type gets damaged the same way, and cracks you leave in the road as you walk all look the same. The horizon looks good, though, as you can see a lot of the landscape from a distance. Buildings and other objects rarely "pop-in" and cars do not randomly appear, as they do in Grand Theft Auto. Fans will be pleased to see that most of the cast from the film is in the game, including Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, and Peter Cullen. I must admit, hearing the original Optimus say "Autobots, transform and roll out!" gave me chills. Even more surprising is the return of the original Megatron, voiced by Frank Welker, as opposed to Hugo Weaving, who will voice the leader of the Decepticons in the film.

As soon as you start Transformers: The Game, you get to choose which faction you will be, either the friendly Autobots, or the evil Decepticons. The Autobots have four playable characters, while the Decepticons have five. Gameplay is disappointingly monotonous, with each mission feeling like a replay of the next. "Drive here in this time limit, then fight these drones, then drive to this location and fight these drones." That's not the game in a nutshell, that's the game, period. At least with the Decepticon levels, you have characters like Starscream and Blackout to take to the skies for an added level of fun, but flying enemies are few and far between, and most can be taken down with one shot.

Transformers is very reminiscent of Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, although nowhere near as fun. The so-called "open world" levels are much smaller than more popular open world games such as Grand Theft Auto and Spider-Man. Everything, from cars to buildings to trees, can either be destroyed or used as weapons. This is good for about five minutes of fun until you realize that it all looks the same, and has no real impact on missions or anything else, for that matter.

Missions are linear, with very few side-quests that are nothing more than basic, unchallenging, unoriginal mini-games. Drive, transform, attack, transform, drive. That's the strategy for the entire game.

With its embarassing simplicity, Transformers: The Game can be controller-throwing frustrating sometimes. Because you are only given a small section of the world map to view, timed missions can be a real pain, because you're never absolutely certain where you're supposed to be headed.

While most grunts can be destroyed with a one-two combo, some of the higher food chain enemies can be quite tough. Most of the boss battles are difficult not because of challenge, but because they go on for way too long. Many of them have an attack that can only be stopped by throwing an object at them. Not only that, but weapons are useless against bosses, (and actually are rarely used throughout the entire game simply because your fists are much stronger) so you will have to rely on melee attacks and your shield (neither of which are as strong as whichever boss you're fighting).

The biggest frustration in the game are the humans. Even as the Autobots, at no time do they realize that you're a good guy and stop firing. In fact, Megatron would be the easiest boss in the game if the helicopters would just leave you alone; plus you can also defeat Megatron by using a bush. Yes, that's right; Optimus Prime -- the leader and most powerful of the Autobots -- instead of using his incredibly powerful weapons, defeats the most evil force in the Transformers world with shrubbery.

Game Mechanics:
The first thing you will notice while playing is the very poorly designed lock-on system. The crosshairs must be pointed directly at an enemy before you can lock on. Also, because of the high level of the crosshairs, enemies right in front of you cannot be locked onto, because you can't look straight down in the game. In addition to that, because you have to be so close to objects to pick them up, half the time, you will end up kicking them out of reach, wasting valuable time in a boss battle.

Driving is also a big letdown. Controls are incredibly sluggish, which lead to overcorrecting, which then leads to more overcorrecting, ultimately putting you nose first into a building. While in driving mode, debris has random effects on your car. Sometimes you will just knock it away (and when I say away, I mean two blocks down), while other times it will bring you to a complete stop. The overall physics of everything feels off. Some melee attacks against you which would typically just knock someone down send you flying backward, giving enemies ample time to rush you with a strong attack.

The Decepticons have the more interesting levels, because you actually get rewarded for destroying buildings and throwing cars. Also, you have the ability to play as Scorponok, a bot who can burrow underground to sneak up on enemies. Other than that, there is no difference compared to the Autobot levels.

Transformers: The Game features quite a few unlockables, including stills from both the animated film and the live action, and trailers for the movie. After the film comes out, these will be of no value to gameplayers whatsoever.

While the game looks great and features original voice talent, the game is poorly put together, and features far too many unoriginal ideas. The game itself can be beat in under an hour, but unlike other short games like StarFox 64, players will likely have little or no desire to pick it back up. Maybe worth a rent if you just want to hear Frank Welker as Megatron. Other than that, don't plan on picking this one up this summer.

-Crazy Kangaroo, GameVortex Communications
AKA Josh Meeks

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