Transformers: The Game Review
Movie-licensed videogames have been pretty dreadful so far this Summer, and I've had the pleasure and privilege of reviewing every single abysmally mediocre product. But hey, it's my job, and I must continue onward in hopes of maybe coming across that one solid movie-licensed game. Between Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, and now Transformers, Activision is responsible for most of this Summer's movie-games.
Disney released the boring Pirates of the Carribean game, meanwhile Electronic Arts published the surprisingly good Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Unfortunately, I've yet to play the newest Harry Potter game, so I'm still foreign to the thought of a good movie-game. Regardless, after playing Transformers, I think I've come to the realization that I may have very well played the worst PlayStation 3 game to date.
Transformers makes a poor first impression on you as soon as you start playing it. Visually, it seems to be stuck somewhere in between the last generation and this one. Picture clarity is unusually grainy no matter what resolution you play in, and nothing about the game looks the least bit next-gen. To make matters worse, a sure sign of laziness becomes apparent when you notice that the cut-scenes and CGs are horrifically compressed, featuring artifacting all over the screen. Poor compression quality like this was typically found in PlayStation games, largely because of storage-constraints of CDs. But we're dealing with a 40GB medium here, so this caliber of video is absolutely unacceptable.
The image itself is also either too dark or too bright, and I found myself frequently losing an enemy, only to have him pop out of nowhere and slug me. Once you're past those issues, then you'll begin to evaluate the poor visuals on a technical scale. Nothing about the bots makes them pop or stand out, so the entire game just looks boring. Texture detail is redundant and nothing short of bland. The only decent visual aspect is that the framerate is surprisingly stable, which has been an unusual feat for movie-games. But that doesn't change anything, because once you see how absurdly dark or bright the picture can be, you won't care about the framerate the least bit.
For your campaign, you get to choose between playing as the Autobots or Decepticons, and at any point you can switch story paths. Clearly, when you're playing as the Autobots your goal will be to protect and minimize the threat of the Decepticons, as well as protecting Sam. And when you're playing as the Decepticons, destruction and finding Sam will be your prerogative. It sounds cool in concept and all, but execution is poor. Gameplay features nothing that you haven't experienced before. Your bots can punch, jump, shoot two kinds of attacks, block, struggle to pickup nearby objects and hurl them. Oh, and of course, then you get to transform into a car or aircraft and drive around your open-ended world, going from mission-to-mission. Boring. There's absolutely no sense of scope, nothing grand about the game. The adventure is linear, and the fights are beyond tedious and unimaginative. And as far as the missions go, they tend to last no more than five minutes each. Oh, and those are boring too.
Then there are the driving controls, which are nothing short of broken and clumsy. Maneuvering the car around is like taking control over soap. The car just slips and slides every time you try to point it somewhere, which also makes some of the chase-missions an utter pain in the ass. And then comes more frustration when your car (which in reality, let's keep in mind, is actually a monstrous alien-robot) gets stuck in front of some minuscule object. So, you'll freeze upon impact of a tiny object, meanwhile crashing into another vehicle will send it flying 50 feet backwards. Brilliant.
Sure you get to play as a number of different Transformers, but replay value is seriously lacking here, folks. The game will take about 7-10 hours to complete, at most. But worst of all, there isn't a multiplayer mode in sight here. In a day and age where even the most basic action games have some sort of multiplayer facet, Transformers offers none.
Being a movie game and all, that means the thing to look out for is voice acting. Before I get to that, I should mention that in terms of sound effects, Transformers is basically deaf. Despite the chaos you cause, the explosions are barely audible, which diminishes the scale of the game greatly. Everything beyond the explosions is totally generic, and the voice acting doesn't do much to make up for any of it. Yes, Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) voice their respective characters, but that doesn't really lend much in terms of quality. Voice acting is decent, but nothing spectacular.
If you're the informed gamer, then you expected nothing less out of Transformers. This is the epitome a game that was quickly thrown together with the most basic and juvenile concepts videogaming has. There is nothing worth your time here, as everything about Transformers The Game reeks of mediocrity. As soon as you boot the game up and notice those grainy visuals, coupled with the poorly compressed cut-scenes, you know what you're in for. From there on, nothing gets better, as the gameplay is as generic as you can imagine. Avoid Transformers, you're $60 are better spent elsewhere.
7/29/2007 Arnold Katayev