Review: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
For a third time, then, “Let’s roll out!” … “What? No I don’t see the innuendo in the titl– Ooh! I see it now…”
- Worth The Time?Only if you’re a die-hard fan of the series or you enjoyed the War For Cybertron “game”.
- Things LovedRobots with cannons attached to their arms! The visuals were pretty decent. Lots of gameplay variety. Achievements were easy.
- Things HatedThe game is shorter than Voldemort’s nose. Way too many load screens. Feels extremely linear and forced. Just, yawn.
- RecommendationI can’t think of a reason for anyone to buy this game other than perhaps being a crazy Transformers fan who simply must have everything with robots that have cannons attached to their arms. Perhaps if it were in a bargain bin somewhere, or you were paid to play it?
- Name: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
- Genre: Action
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: High Moon Studios
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R 439 (Take 2)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
This review is a few weeks in the coming. To make a story out of it, having received the game a few weeks ago now and subsequently completing it, the actual write-up has taken far too long to come out.
This is because of two very simple reasons. The first one is related to the usual “personal issues” factor that people tend to drone on about in an attempt to garner some sort of relation to everyone else, but in my case I honestly just forgot that I needed to write out a review, at least for a few days. The second reason, quite simply, is that I don’t want to talk about this game.
Allow me to explain with a bit of background before getting into the actual review of the game.
The Transformers games are bad. Really bad. They try to be entertaining experiences, no doubt, but more often than not they just don’t translate into any kind of mindless fun and come off as laborious chores instead.
Strangely, somehow, I have ended up playing all of the Transformers games based on the blockbuster movies, as well as the decidedly ‘better but still not quite good enough’ War For Cybertron, which was built as a multiplayer experience first before the Transformers world was tacked on, later in the development cycle.
Through all of those games, there was a common feeling, or perhaps a common lacking. I derived no satisfaction from those games. Though the action was decent and the set-pieces suitably over the top, I never found myself interested in playing on further, and my only motivation was an achievement for completing each mission, or seeing who I got to play as in the next mission.
It never gripped me.
Sure you might argue that a game of this nature isn’t meant to be gripping or engaging in any way, but that’s just it.
It kinda is.
Action titles are meant to be adrenaline rushes which constitute a rollercoaster ride from start to finish where you hold on for your dear life while random dangerously low-hanging signboards pass you by and someone behind you throws up. This rollercoaster is more like one that you’d find in a hypothetical retirement home. It’s got the intentions right, but the execution is sorely lacking.
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, from here on known as Timmy — a South Park reference and suitably politically incorrect — because of how retardedly frustrating it is to play through, is actually a pretty decent game.
It’s certainly the best Transformers game so far.
For the few hours that it lasts.
The day I got the game, I happened to be otherwise free and able to play it, so I proceeded to insert it into my Xbox 360 (after taking the obligatory few minutes to fawn over my gamerscore) and try it out. Three hours later, I switched off feeling suitably more entertained than I had been in previous recollections of my time with the Transformers games, but still remarkably underwhelmed.
The next day, I finished it. Total game time was just over four hours and even then I took my time to acquire all collectibles and achievements, playing on medium difficulty. I started it up on hard just to see if it was any more time-consuming, and after I finished the first stage without any difficulty whatsoever, I got over it.
Timothy is short. Very short. It’s so short that you could quite easily take this game home for a few hours, finish it and return it to the store you bought it at before they even closed for the day. If you were really cunning, you could even state that you had some issue and get a full refund. Free gaming session.
Well, it bloody well doesn’t deserve the asking price.
The game acts as a prequel tie-in to the blockbuster Bay-formers movie, meaning that whatever you play in the game over those four or so hours is for the most part not covered in the movie at all. In that way, all of the missions are at least fresh and unique, if not for the fact that with most of them set in the Southern American region, the majority of levels look alike anyway.
The game works in stages, chapters actually, with seven in total, none longer than forty minutes or so, each placing you in control of a star character of the movie, something that I found refreshing rather than in War For Cybertron where you could choose who you wanted to play as but pretty much always defaulted to Megatron or Optimus because the rest were just shit.
The levels themselves are actually quite nicely detailed — as is expected of a game based on the Unreal 3 engine — with some very pretty vistas to be seen through some of the stages and enough variety for one to easily ignore the fact that the majority of levels differ only in time of day or colour palette.
Each character has three “modes” now, having finally discovered the ability to find a middle ground between ‘car porn’ and ‘robot porn’. They’re calling it “Stealth Force” mode. I just call it badass. Whereas in the other games you were stronger in robot form, in this game your vehicular forms — stealth force and driving — offer you more armour and arguably better weaponry, at the obvious cost of mobility.
The addition of a third mode allows for various sections of levels to be specific to certain modes with the standard vehicular mode that we are familiar with from previous games being used for driving sections, often asking the player to race against a clock, Need for Speed style, only without any competing racers. There are also stealth sections in the game, tasking the player with sneaking through an area undetected, if they so chose to, of course. There are flight sections for those with the ability, and this is where Laserbeak — Dean’s lovechild — features for a section of the game, tearing shit up like nobody’s business. Finally, there are wave sections where you are asked to hold off seemingly unending hordes of hostiles. I always found those sections to be a slap in the face. I mean, when I was playing the Autobot levels, where were the hordes of Autobots when I needed them? And then I obviously realised that they were too busy dying like idiotic fucks at the hands of the Decepticons, a few chapters later.
Timothy doesn’t have as many boss fights as War For Cybertron, with the latter featuring a half-hour-long boss battle at the end of every stage. I counted two, maybe three, in the former. They weren’t entirely memorable either. Especially since, having watched the movie, I know how things worked out for that specific boss. The final boss battle indeed doesn’t even fit with the rest of the story, and feels like something that is between being a nod to fans of the series and a half-assed attempt to add on another ten minutes of gameplay for no reason other than “loljustcoz”.
A noteworthy mention goes to the loading times in this game. They quite honestly extended the game’s time by a good hour or so in total. Now, everyone knows that the Unreal 3 engine is pretty good at streaming and level loading times are therefore acceptable (usually), but I found that having to load a level in this game, perhaps because the levels were gauntlet-styled areas of great length, took way too long. What made it worse was that after that unnecessarily long loading screen, once I got into the part where I actually did things, I shot a few robots, took a few steps, and the game would freeze up for a second or two and “Loading…” would pop up on the bottom of my screen. It got quite irritating after the twentieth time in the level.
Upon completing the singleplayer in its entirety and feeling remarkably underwhelmed, though admittedly far less so than in previous games, I decided to try out Timothy’s multiplayer mode. Going online, I played a few standard deathmatch type games on maps that were cramped enough with just the three other people that played in them, though admittedly the online component offered more entertainment than the singleplayer campaign’s entirety.
To that extent, Timothy is very much a lesser clone of War For Cybertron, except set in a world we actually know and with characters that we actually care for. Sort of.
The game shines brighter in multiplayer than it does in singleplayer but that’s not really saying that much anyway.
Perhaps I’m being a little unfair on the game because by the end of my experience with it, I felt relatively appeased and noted a few times that it was a far more decent attempt at a Transformers game than previous releases, with the abysmal Revenge of the Fallen taking the cake for worst game ever to exist in the mortal realm.