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Transformers: The Game
Score: 68%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Mission-Based Driving

Graphics & Sound:
Imagine the graphics of the PS3 combined with the blockbuster theatrical release of the summer, which just happens to be a nicely done re-envisioning of one of my favorite childhood licenses: The Transformers. Yes, I may be waxing poetic, but I assure you the true poetry is to be found in the transformations in this game.

The models faithfully reproduce those from the new movie and they look good. Actually, I would say that when it comes to the graphics, I have no complaints.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the sound in Transformers: The Game. Specifically, there are vocal instructions that remind you where to go when you have a new mission and, while my memory may not be what it used to be, even I found the almost instant repeating of the exact same phrase (for that matter, the exact same sound clip) to be somewhere between irritating and insulting.

As for the sound effects and music, these did the job of supporting the game without being distracting, but the nagging at the beginning of each mission (or sub-mission), unfortunately was, at times, quite distracting. Characters from the movie reprise their voice-acting roles in the game, so it all sounds right.

I really wish this game had better gameplay. Being a huge fan of the Transformers, I wanted this game to blow me away. Unfortunately, the enemies often felt "cheap." Specifically, there would be certain things required to beat an enemy that really didn't make sense or, for that matter, even maintain any sort of continuity inside of the game itself. A certain type of attack that works against a certain enemy at one point in the game may not work at all later in the game, and without any real reason. I would have thought I had simply missed something, but I got past some of these sorts of places by determining what worked (even though it didn't make sense) and wound up getting stopped on another similar seemingly impervious enemy.

In Transformers: The Game, you get to choose which side you want to play as: Autobot or Decepticon. This is a nice feature, as fans of the Transformers typically have a favorite side. Another tip of the hat to fans is an assortment of unlockable bonus materials. These are unlocked by locating hidden cubes in the levels and by completing levels.

In addition, if you find certain collectible cubes, you can use them to access special challenge "bonus missions" in the game. You will also want to work on upping your stats by practicing your various abilities either as an Autobot or Decepticon. Decepticons can build up their Destruction ability, while Autobots are penalized for excessive damage to the environment. Autobots can, however, build up their abilities in Speed and Sliding (Drifting), for example.

Video games have come a long way in the past few decades, in graphics and in the challenges presented by the Artificially Intelligent enemies. Transformers: The Game is a new release and, as expected, features modern day graphics. This makes it rather hard for me to fathom why the enemies you face can only be successfully overcome with patterns that feel like they belong in the 8-bit era. Do the first attack, then do the second attack, then avoid being hit... rinse and repeat. This could almost be forgivable if the attacks that worked against an enemy the first time you encountered them worked against them the second time you attacked them... or at least if there was some reason for the change.

As it is, I found that the difficulty in Transformers: The Game came primarily from things it shouldn't have: the difficulty of trying to discern what attack will work against the current enemy (now) and difficulties introduced by the control scheme. Getting your Transformer to face the direction you want is not always easy, even though it can be necessary for things such as picking items up and throwing items at enemies - and sometimes is required when you have a time limit. This same problem comes into play when controlling your Transformer while in vehicle mode, where the inability to face the direction you want becomes the inability to steer correctly.

Game Mechanics:
The controls in Transformers: The Game were very difficult to use with any accuracy. This specifically made it difficult to pick up items and to throw them at targets. It also made it difficult to climb buildings at times (you have to face them first). When in vehicle mode, it was very difficult to accurately steer. At lower speeds, the steering seemed to have just as much effect as when travelling at higher speeds. This ended up making racing sections easier once you got up to speed and made it harder to stay on the road and face the correct direction when starting, stopping or driving at slower speeds.

As mentioned above, the artificial intelligence of the enemies seems to be a fairly simple chasing A.I., with a few rules based on the zone you're in, often with the enemy assuming some stance that renders him invulnerable to most attacks. You have to find the one attack that will actually affect him in order to do any damage and advance to the next step in the pattern. This can be tiring and trying at times. The other issue can be extended battles that take place in multiple locations; if you fail at some point along the way, you'll have to start over at the beginning of that encounter, not necessarily the part of the encounter you had gotten to. This can be especially taxing when you've determined the working pattern and you know it, but you keep messing up at some part because you can't aim and successfully throw something at an opponent.

I wish I could say that this was a really, really good game, but I guess the best I can do is to say that this is a game made with the license of a really, really good movie. To me, the game feels a bit rushed or, perhaps, it might be suffering from the middle-of-the-road-itis that can befall games that are made once and ported to every console in the known world. Either way, I can only really recommend Transformers: The Game to die-hard Transformers fans who I couldn't hope to dissuade from buying it anyway. For anyone else, I would suggest renting Transformers: The Game before purchasing it.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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