The Transformers Get Redemption

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When I played the original Transformers movie game back in 2007, I had two things against it. One, I was playing it on the Wii which made the stupid mistake of using the Wiimote to control both melee combat and the camera at the same time, leading to an exercise in frustration. Second, even with that frustration out of the way it was a shallow, unexciting game to play and I lost interest in a matter of minutes.

With Revenge of the Fallen, development on the PS3 and 360 moved over to Luxoflux, who is best known for their Vigilante 8 vehicle combat series. This already is a good sign for the series, but in my opinion, is it enough to make up for a horrible first game?

Surprisingly the game is much better than the mess that was Transformers: the Game. As expected with any movie based tie-in, Revenge of the Fallen closely follows the movie’s storyline. Beginning with a Decepticon attack in Shanghai, the settings also include the US West Coast (including Mikaela’s bike shop,) US East Coast (including Sam’s college campus and the Air and Space Museum,) The Deep 6 facility at the Laurentian Abyss where Megatron is buried, and the final battle in Egypt.

Both the Autobots and Decepticon campaigns span over 23 missions, with each lasting about 10 minutes. Missions are timed, and special awards/campaign points are awarded based on how fast the mission is completed.

Each Transformer has their own skills. For instance, Ironhide’s special ability is to deploy a separate turret for defense, while Ratchet (as well as Decepticon Long Haul) is able to heal himself and any ally unit in a small radius. Bumblebee can stun any Decepticon in the area, and Optimus Prime can create a force field to protect against attacks.

Combat is simple but effective, as the X and Y button are used for punches, and the A button jumps. The Left Trigger is used to activate weapon mode, and in conjunction with the Right Trigger, will be used to fire your weapon (while the Right Bumper key toggles between weapons.) There is a catch though in using weapons. The Left Trigger must be pressed, as the Right Trigger alone (when held) coverts your Transformer to vehicle mode. There were many times I tried to fire my weapon only to be stuck in mid-transformation. At times it would get frustrating while in the heat of combat.

When completing special attacks (such as headshots or shooting airborne units,) an overdrive meter fills up. A quick press of the Left Bumper boosts your attacks for a short time, resulting in quicker kills and more Energon which is used to level up your character’s abilities. Energon Level boosts increase weapon power (primary and secondary,) cooldown times, melee combat strength, and physical health.

While the missions are fun, they tend to be a bit formulaic, consisting of "locate and rescue target," "eliminate a specific number of enemies," "race through the checkpoints in time," or "defeat the boss." Even worse, with all the missions being so short, each campaign can easily be beaten in a few hours.

Thankfully the missions can be replayed again to unlock extra features, and that’s what really shines about the game. While we get the usual extra features, such as concept art or the ability to select all the Transformers for each mission (the campaign locks character selection to one Transformer per mission,) the real treat of the unlockables come in the form of full length episodes from the Transformers Generation 1 cartoon. For the Autobots, the cartoons center on the Dinobots, while the Decepticons get the amazing Ultimate Doom trilogy, which for any Transformers fan, is a must see!

Each of the Transformers look like their movie counterparts, right down to every detail. (Uh, wait, I might rethink that, as Optimus Prime’s face shield is permanent, unlike in the movies where it was retractable.) The environments, however, are standard fare, but everything runs very smoothly without any breakups whatsoever.

A majority of the cast have returned to provide voices for the game, in particular the human characters of Sam (Shia LeBoeuf) and Mikaela (Megan Fox,) and Autobots Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen,) Bumblebee (Mark Ryan, voice only,) Ironhide (Jess Harnell,) Ratchet (Robert Foxworth,) and Starscream (Charlie Adler.) Frank Welker also returns as the game version of Megatron, which is always good to see (even though I actually am liking Hugo Weaving’s movie version a bit more,) but some of the new voices didn’t work as well. For instance, Clive Revill as Jetfire lost the cranky old geezer attitude of Mark Ryan’s movie counterpart.

Then again, I had my concerns for the original actors as well. I felt that Prime sounded more like the first movie’s version, and not like the voice he did in the second movie (which I felt was more authentic to the cartoon,) and what was up with Shia LeBoeuf? He did his lines as if he was in a massive caffeine high. Yes I know he did the same thing in the movie after seeing "weird symbols" in his head, but in the entire game? Give me a break.

Downloadable content has been announced for the near future, which will include the Autobot Sideswipe, and for Starscream fans (and yes there are many of them out there,) the G1 version will be available!

I wouldn’t consider Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a must buy since it can be finished in a few hours, but it definitely makes a great rental, especially for Transformers fans. Luxoflux made up for the mistakes that Traveler’s Tales made and created a good game out of it.

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