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Transformers: The Game (Xbox 360) artwork

Transformers: The Game (Xbox 360) review

"Rearranged and mutated, much of the epic feel of the film has thus been lost in translation and Transformers is left to stand solely on its playability and graphical achievement."

Transformers: The Game takes as much hostage from itself as the characters in the movie take from one another. For those who skipped out on that experience or havenít had the chance to go through it yet, the game will prove to be confusing if anything and to anyone whoís been playing videogames for the past five years, disappointingly familiar.

Transformers: The Game attempts to follow in the footsteps of the recently released movie. . . sort of. The premise is the same, but the story is in an altered state (for better or worse) and is told through brief cutscenes before and after most of the gameís mission based action. Rearranged and mutated, much of the epic feel of the film has thus been lost in translation and Transformers is left to stand solely on its playability and graphical achievement. Wondering how that stacks up?

Regardless of plot or setting, the most important things at stake are the robots themselves, which come through with flying colors. Each of the Autobots and Decepticons are modeled more vividly than you might give a movie to videogame adaptation credit for; theyíre nowhere near the level of detail presented on the silver screen, but I dare anyone to naysay their quality otherwise. Youíll see pipes and levers; gears and rods, all of the things that should be visible on a giant, highly intelligent machine from Mars. I assume, anyhow.

Itís unfortunate that the integrity of everything onscreen besides the Transformers and their lighting relationship with the sky is completely dismissible. Buildings and vehicles look absolutely horrendous; the screen capture on the back of the gameís case is only a vague indication. Youíll be even less impressed when you jump into the world and are hit in the face with muddy, low-resolution textures that look like they may have been pulled from an earlier generation Xbox title. Not usually one to complain about graphics, I feel that itís safe to say even the most indifferent will find trouble here. Itís not just a few things here and there that appear unsightly; you canít do anything to escape it, this is what youíll have your eyes on from beginning to end.

To make matters worse, the gameplay mechanics are salvageable at best. It was a nice idea trying to combine the likes of Grand Theft Auto with something like MechAssault and Dynasty Warriors, but the concoction just doesnít work out in the end. Sure thereís enough to do, which makes it fun at first, but the game doesnít provide enough content to spread the love around to. Most of the time, Missions require you to spend no more than minutes at a time in a single form, in what amounts to beating the snot out of a few opposing bots or simply driving from location to another. Itís not only the entire pacing thatís off a beat; itís the way that youíll be fighting. Be it Decepticons or Autobots, youíre equipped with a pretty impressive arsenal of destructive means. By way of projectiles, thereís the secondary machine turret that provides a hail of high caliber bullets and the main cannon. The main cannon function differs from machine to machine, but the effects are always impressive whether you launch off a giant rocket or create a ball of energy to fling at the enemy.

It sounds well enough, but thereís a problem. All but the most basic of enemies are equipped with a forcefield that deflects your missile attacks. Odds are, youíll be thinking that there should have been some way around this Ė I mean, whatís the point of packing so much heat when it canít get through to your target? Well, there is no way. In that situation, youíre forced to close in and engage in a vicious metal melee; but there are two problems there, as well.

All of the gameís bosses have a shield like their minions, that not even brawling can get through. What way is there to win? Well similarly, all of the gameís bosses share the same weakness: random items. If you find yourself struggling to take down a bossís defense, look around the arena. Whatever may be lying around the ground is fair game Ė an oversized tire; a passing van; pieces of cement Ė go ahead. Apparently, random items can perforate alien plasma better than a miniature nuclear warhead.

The next problem has to do with combos.

What about them? Theyíre missing. Apart from being able to do an evasive roll out of harmís way, the most complex youíre able to get with your fighting is to mash the attack button repeatedly. Donít bother nudging the analog stick or pressing several buttons at once, as thereís no other outcome to be had. What really makes this bother a major issue is the lack of opponents onscreen at a time. Whereas something like Dynasty Warriors is able to sway your attention by sending a horde of thirty or forty at a time, the most you might see in Transformers: The Game is lesser than ten.

In no surprising turn of events, Transformers: The Game succumbs to the most common shortcoming of its ilk: borrowing heavily from well-established and influential systems. The taking on loan is understandable yet, as always, is put to such a bad use that it ends up being unforgivable. Then itís ironic that what kills this beast and gives it its last breath is no more than meets the eye.


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Freelance review by Donovan Chee (July 24, 2007)

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