VIDEOGAMES-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column showcasing reviews of videogame translations of Hollywood
films (or games soon-to-become Hollywood movies). With both industries getting
closer and closer, and videogames, in general, getting so much more popular, you
knew it was just a matter of time before we hit that stuff!
THIS GAME AT AMAZON.COM NOW!!!
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Systems: XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PSP, Wii, GBA, DS, & PC
TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE is out and about and everyone wants to take the movie home with them. Just like every other summer blockbuster, TRANSFORMERS has a never ending supply of tie-ins. The game is a not-so perfect adaptation of the movie that will appease some and disappoint many. Isn't that the case with all movie games?
TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE is a live action update of the cartoon series of the same name (based on a series of toys - thank you wikipedia). TRANSFORMERS THE GAME takes all of the fun stuff from the movie, eliminates most of the story, and lets you play through. Humans are completely peripheral in substance and you spend all of your time either as an Autobot or as a Decepticon. From start to finish, you'll have an opportunity to play as either side through quests that take place during the movie (or just outside of what is seen on screen). The game was released on multiple platforms, specifically XBOX 360, DS, PC, Wii, PlayStation 2 & 3, and PSP. This review is of the XBOX 360 version.
The first concern I had when popping this game into my XBOX was, "will transforming be as much fun as I'd always dreamed?" The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Transforming is fluid and true to the cartoon. All of the character movements are correct and the time delay is just right. I was surprised that you cannot transform whenever you want (like when jumping or flying through the air with an Autobot), but I guess that was just a limitation of the engine.
I also throughly enjoyed walking around as a Transformer. It's a pretty cool sensation to take a toy from your youth and move it around a city just like you might have done when you were seven years old. To add to my enjoyment, the mostly destructible environments make the sandbox elements of TRANSFORMERS that much more fun. Unfortunately, everything else involving the gameplay of TRANSFORMERS is a let down.
Specifically, vehicular combat and driving altogether is bad news. Have you ever played FULL AUTO? That's pretty much the design used for the driving portions of this game. Your vehicles have overly dramatic drift issues and a screwy battle engine that make you wonder what the designers were thinking. You'll find yourself, more often than not, frustrated by your Autobot's inability to drive in a straight line or to turn successfully. Toss in TRANSFORMERS non-locking reticle system and you'll never want to transform into vehicle form ever. I've complained before and I will continue to complain that sandbox games with piss-poor targeting are worthless. While TRANSFORMERS is better than, say, SPIDER-MAN 3, the fighting system still holds the game back from much of its potential.
One final issue I had with gameplay was the mission structure. None of the missions in TRANSFORMERS are interesting or innovative enough that you'll truly care about what is happening. Who really cares if every fan in the Hoover Dam level is destroyed? How many times have I done redundant point a to point b missions like this before? I'd rather spend hours online fighting custom Transformers in a fighting game than stuck in a weak by-the-numbers mission structure like this (yup, another movie game with zero online capabilities).
Overall, the gameplay in TRANSFORMERS has one major upside - the Transformers move around and fight like they should. Too bad they are held back by a lame mission system and poor driving engine. The initial glee of walking around like a giant robot will be a thrill but the rest you've seen and done before.
Of the three movie games I've reviewed this summer (and one more to come), TRANSFORMERS barely has the best graphics. That isn't saying a lot, considering multiplatform games tend to skew towards the least common denominator, but I guess it's worth something. Compared to SHREK THE THIRD, TRANSFORMERS is like the first ray of sunshine hitting the North Pole after months of darkness. Compared to SPIDER-MAN 3, TRANSFORMERS is like replacing a 55 year old woman in a bikini with a 54 year old woman in a bikini. It looks better, but not so much that you can really tell the difference.
As I mentioned in the Gameplay section, the destructible environments are the coolest part of this game. Not only is this a great decision in accordance with gameplay, graphically it goes quite a ways. This is the only way that TRANSFORMERS shows better than Spidey and likely the only thing that will surprise you. Go ahead, spend some time destroying the suburbs or the Hoover Dam. It'll be like your own little playground.
The character models are adequate (if you like the changes they made in the movie), but don't look spectacularly detailed. The only time you might be impressed is during the cut scenes. The Transformers are well rendered, even though the humans look like Play-Doh.
My biggest gripes are the misuse of invisible walls and of the appearance of glitches. I loathe invisible barriers because they are indicative of lazy design or ignorance of the little things. When you are driving on a freeway and your car jumps the rails, you shouldn't bounce back as if a barrier was present. This is a key design element that should exist in every sandbox game.
The appearance of glitches is bit more understandable because even the best games can have glitches (try playing GEARS OF WAR online). Nevertheless, I feel it is fair to mention that I was able to accidentally stick myself inside of a building through a solid wall. Once through that wall I was stuck inside and unable to finish the mission I was playing. Only through transforming could I figure out how to escape. Because of the delicate nature involved in transforming, I bet that you could transform yourself into a lot of strange places.
The sound in TRANSFORMERS is above and beyond your typical movie game. Having the original voice actors included really adds to the vibe and will keep you playing. It is pretty cool hearing Optimus Prime egging you on to take down the next boss or "Save Mikaela!" And while the voice of Megatron (Frank Welker) has aged a bit, his inclusion is awesome no matter what. The only voice actors that hold the sound back are flat performance by the actors Shia LaBeouf and Megan (Mikaela!) Fox. They don't talk a lot, so I can let them slide.
The sound effects and score fit perfect with the voiceovers. I especially enjoyed the heavy bass included when a Transformer is roaming around. It adds an immersive sensation that a lot of games forget about. Overall, the sound in this game makes everything else look under-developed.
TRANSFORMERS is a great property for film and video games. Unfortunately, the game in this case didn't live up to the movie. While you'll love running around as a Transformer you'll hate driving and accomplishing missions. Gamers would be better served pressuring for a Transformers fighting game or a platformer with an adequate amount of development time. TRANSFORMERS is really no better or no worse than the majority of weak movie tie-in games that we're all getting sick of seeing.
Final Verdict: 7.2/10
STATUS OF THE MOVIE:
The movie has made a crapload of money and managed better than average reviews. There has been chatter about a sequel and unless real Transformers show up and destroy all human life - bet on a sequel.
MY XBOX GAMERTAG:
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