Rotating Header Image

Review – Transformers the Game (PC)

I’ve been a bit behind here on my Transformers themed gaming here.  I have yet to really get into any of the latest 3D incarnations of Transformers video games until recently.  i figure the best thing to do would be to start at the beginning.  Unfortunately, Transformers (Armada) isn’t available on the PC so I’m going for the game based on the first movie game.  Keep in mind also, while I played the PC version, I’m pretty sure it’s essentially the same as the console versions for PS2, Xbox360, and PS3.  It’s probably marginally different than the DS version however.

This is a game with a bit of extremes going for it.  I’ll start with the good extremes because, generally good = boring.  The graphics are pretty swank.  Everything looks really nice, there’s a ton of great particle effects and every character looks pretty much the way they should.  As a bonus, the numerous cut scenes, as corny as they may be, are well animated and fluid as well.  The action and Transformation gimmick is used fairly effectively as well, though more so for land based vehicles (more on this in a bit).  My only complaint with the transformation gimmick is the “button” for how to do it is not in the controls options, which mean I had to putz with things until I figured it out (it’s mouse wheel up).

Speaking of controls, let’s move on the the extreme of bad.  The controls are mostly decent, except for the flying sequences.  Controlling Megatron wasn’t so bad but Blackout and Starscream have extreme issues with the up and down precision.  It’s possible this was just my machine or something but it makes flying anywhere almost impossible.  Thankfully it’s never ever necessary.  Even the mission  where you have to shoot down 20 jets can be done by standing on the ground shooting rockets at them as they very slowly fly by.

Assuming you can lock on to them.  The next major gripe I have with this game is the incessant military/police.  You see, due to the nature of the film, creating things to fight and DO on missions was a bit tricky.  Each side has like half a dozen main characters to choose from for creating storylines and missions.  This leaves the pool of things to shoot at extremely small.  This is “fixed” through two methods.  Each faction gets a whole mess of Drones that show up in mass from time to time.  Also there is an almost constant stream of military or police forces.  This means you’ll constantly be chased by police cars and constantly being assaulted by Ospreys and Blackout style helicopters.  The human attackers generally do little damage and mostly serve as an annoying nuisance than anything.

The drones help give a more formidable set of opponents but they aren’t without their issues either.  They come in a variety of sizes and flavors however both the Decepticons and Autobots use the exact same drones.  Also, each type has some gimmick to defeat it, two of which are extremely annoying.  The two largest types require you to throw some sort of vehicle at them to remove their defenses.  There isn’t any way around this and finding a vehicle can often be tricky.  Once you find a vehicle getting it to connect just right among the mess of police/military and everything else going on can be tricky as well.  To make things more tedious you will have to hit them 3-4 times each.  If you try to straight attack or get to close they will fling you halfway across the battle area.

Which brings up another bit of annoyance, almost every encounter has a completely arbitrary “Action Zone”.  Leaving this circle for more than about 20 seconds means instant mission failure.

The hero characters all show up of course.  Through the course of the Decepticon missions you fight Bumblebee, Jazz, Ironhide and Optimus each to their destruction, which makes a nice twist on the plot of the film.  Ironhide however is probably the most annoying boss battle ever as it involves a lot of drones, a lot of “kill stuff then fight the boss”, all while doing a lot of “stay away from the boss between rounds or he’ll fling you across the map”.  I could understand this more if you fought Ironhide as say, barricade or Scorponok but you fight as Blackout, whom is considerably larger than everyone.

The Autobots of course showdown against the Decepticons with one major twist. Shockwave shows up as a boss. He’s even a triple changer transforming from a stationary gun turret, to robot to a helicopter similar to Blackout. This is somewhat odd for several reasons. First is that no other major characters were added. Sure we have the “drones” but they are all clearly called drones implying they are nobodies. Secondly, shockwave has never gotten a movie based toy. Even the drones are all based on toy designs, Swindle, LIST DRONE TOYS. Thirdly, Shockwave is rumored to be a major player in the third Transformers film. Will his design have any relation to the one presented here. Technically the game isn’t really cannon in anyway, but it is something to question.

There is one character conspicuously absent from the game. Ratchet is not a playable character nor do you ever fight him. He makes a few short appearances in some of the CG cinematics but he doesn’t ever appear in game. Bonecrusher shows up in an NPC role during one of Starscreams missions and Brawl is fought during the Autobot quest though you never get to play as either of them. This is actually somewhat disappointing as I was hoping to play as Bonecrusher. His articulated claw could have added some interesting dynamics to the gameplay. Also Brawl is extremely small compared to his movie counterpart.

Brawl was the tank, referred to as Devastator in the first movie. He’s correctly called Brawl in the game but in the movie he was several stories tall and it took a great deal of effort by almost everyone to take him down. In the game he’s the same size as Ironhide, who turns into a larger pick up truck.

The missions themselves are decent though fairly standard for an action style game.  The Decepticon missions are probably the better set if only because the Decepticons are more varied than the Autobots and the Decepticon missions come off as less hypocritical. By Hypocritical I mean, the Autobots get penalized for “Destruction” while at the same time you have missions like “Drive around as Jazz blowing up gas stations to distract the police”.

Overall, this is an OK game, though not spectacular.  The real issues ironically come from the more “Game” like elements.

NOTE: It’s almost inconsequential but I just wanted to note that while playing this game I took screen shots of my OWN all the way through of lots of great stuff using a program to do so only to find out the program had not saved ANY of them.  So I’ve had to resort to picking up a bunch of random shots from around the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.