Transformers: The Game Xbox 360 Review
Ever since its first appearance back in 1984, and through a myriad of iterations – both on-screen and off – Transformers found a place in the hearts of many people, both young and young at heart. Now, 23 years on, the franchise is back once again in chock-a-block CGI, but positively PG summer blockbuster form to introduce itself to the masses. Oh, and of course, as you would expect these days, a tie in game, this time developed by Traveller’s Tales, will be sitting on shelves as well. Now, through the last few years Traveller’s Tales have been in top form and are currently one of the few companies that seem perfectly adept a creating a game that is unashamedly aimed at kids, but can be played, and enjoyed, by almost anyone. In fact, even the most cynical of gamers would only need a quick look at the likes of the Lego Star Wars games to reinforce that fact. So, with such quality in tow, things look good but unfortunately, just like just like Dead Mans Chest and Spiderman 3, and true to industry form, Transformers: The Game does not turn out to be anything special.
As you would expect for a game of its type, Transformers: The Game shares quite a lot with the film it is based on and as a result tires its utmost to tie into the movie story the best it can. To this effect the game places you in control of either the Autobots or Deceptions, thus letting you be good or evil. You are then given the option to move about through a pseudo sandbox style gameplay environment. Why pseudo? Well, that is simply due to the fact that even though the game gives you a 3D world to explore it comes across as feeling limited. Also, in all truth, the game almost gets too repetitive and linear as the game uses action zones to a great extent, meaning that once you are fighting in a certain part of the city you are stuck and forced to stay there until you pass or fail a mission. Also, the mission themselves don’t vary much from each other meaning you end up doing the same two tasks over and over again.
When playing as the Autobots (that’s the good guys if you are new to this Transformers malarkey) things are at their most basic, with very little to do to entertain. In fact, all you’re tasked with is to move about, find some of the grunt Transformers, kill them with one or two attacks, find a ‘boss’ Transformer, figure out how to hurt it, and then move on. When you do this for the umpteenth time, it is probably the moment you will realise that combat in the game is quite limited with most of the normal enemies putting up very little fight thus resulting in the hammering of a few buttons for an unsatisfying win. However, the game does try and mix things up a bit by letting you lift up some objects, such as tress, bus and cars, and toss them in the direction of your foe. However, due to the games target lock-on, which is an absolute disaster, as it simply refuses to lock on to stuff you want it to, this part of the game can also get frustrating.
Should you try your hand at the other campaign things get a bit better, and there are even some high points that take some small strides into making the game fun to play. This high point even has a name, it’s called the Deceptions. When playing as them you still have to put up with the all the glitches but, for their campaign, the game sees an upturn in its fortunes as the game encourages you to trash the cities you’re occupying, and do your best to blow them to bits. As we all know by now, blow up things in games is always great fun.
Of course, as this game is all about Transformers you can also transform (tap Y) into vehicles, such as a car, to move about the environment. When moving you are then tasked with seeking out beacons, but unfortunately this ends up been not much fun as the physic system in the game seems a bit off. This means you can blast your way though some big objects but at times you’ll frustratingly meet a small, almost inconspicuous, part of the environment will erroneously bring you to a dead stop should you come in contact with it. Also, seeing as these driving sections are usually timed, should you mess up due to the games substandard controls, bad collision detection, and/or bad physics you can then end up tossed back up to 10 minutes into the game and end up just wanting to quit due to the game’s inadequacies. Thankfully, depending on the Transformers you play as, there is also the option to transform into lorries, fighter jet’s and choppers which are a bit more fun than cars, in particular the last two as you can fly, so it is not all bad.
Graphically the game is rather impressive with the Transformers themselves looking supremely styled. In fact, the whole game has a highly graphically detailed feel to it with many little touches such as destructive effects thrown in that amaze. In fact if you were to judge the game solely on it top-notch intro movie and it overall presentation it would rank very highly. Regretfully, once you get further in you’ll notice all of this graphical flair seems to have come at a cost, as the dev team has not taken the time, or most likely not been given the time, to refine the game’s framerate. Should a good deal of action happen on screen, which is a distinct possibility during the ‘wreck a city’ Deception missions, with buildings realistically be blown apart, the game will start to chug noticeably along. Now personally, I am not overly concerned with a game’s framerate, and at times fail to notice the difference between 60 and 30 FPS, but framerate problems were highly noticeable here. In terms of audio there is not much to write home about with only a basic soundtrack, below par sound effects and some monotone voice acting on show.
If anything, the average nature of the game proves that it is very hard to make a truly terrible game about giant robots, but regretfully, when all’s said and done, this latest rendition of the Transformers franchise can only be described as a letdown. In fact, just like most of the other movie/game tie-ins for this year’s summer blockbusters it showcases a few interesting ideas but ultimately fails in execution which, in turn, leads to immense frustration to those that attempt to play it. There is enough here to enjoy if you’re a fan of the movie with only a passing interested in games, but you probably would not be reading this review if you were that kind of person, would you? If you’re interested in Transformers, your best bet at finding something worthwhile to play is to pick up the old 2004 Transformers game for the PS2, based on the 2002-2003 Armada anime, from your friendly neighbourhood bargain bin and give it a whirl. Now, I will admit that one is also far from perfect, but at least it managed to capture the sprit of the Transformer universe very well, which was something that failed to be realised in this version the game.
There is no disguising the limits of the game.