Traveller's Tales' has made a unique game by having a mixed target audience. Will hardcore long time fans enjoy this game? Or will the more casual gamer, who enjoys what TT did with the Lego Star Wars franchise, find this game more entertaining? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle as the game follows the plot of the movie but the gameplay is a bit exaggerated and slightly clunky.
Just like the target audience, the overall fun factor if this game lies somewhere in the middle. While not totally broken, Transformers offers some cheap thrills that will last a short amount of time. Like the recently released Stranglehold, the environments are highly destructible. In fact, the destructibility of each stage is borderline ridiculous as simply walking next to a building can complete decimate it. And even though this feature might seem like a cool gameplay element, it actually can work for or against the player depending on which side they are fighting for. If you are playing as an Autobot, then the more you destroy, the worse off you will be. But if playing as a Decepticon, the player gets rewarded for leveling a city. But either way you look at it, the highly destructible environments is what gives this game the over-the-top attitude.
This game does not contain open ended gameplay. While there are some sub-missions to complete and orbs to collect (ala Crackdown), the meat of the gameplay is quite linear. Not that this is a bad thing, it is just that the box packaging might lead the player to think otherwise.
Fighting enemies is actually hindered by cheap tactics and button mashing. Each playable character has about three main modes to attack: melee, and two gun/long range attacks. However, bosses and even some average drones are invulnerable to weapon fire rendering long range attacks completely useless. Enemies can even magically block incoming gun based attackes when attacked from behind. This means that just about every boss battle and enemy encounter will rely on the “X,” “X,” “X” three hit combo. By rendering long range attacks useless, combat becomes rather stale quickly.
While the 360 does support some decent visuals in the graphics department, it is a tease to not be able to see how to unlock Achievements as most are labeled as “Secret- find out what it is when you unlock it.” Using the Achievement point system is what gives the 360 version its edge, so why the player can’t see them remains a mystery and a disappointment. Everything in this game retains a nice shiny texturing and explosions look exciting. However, water effects and the FMV cut scenes have been ill rendered and look quite like something from last gen. The biggest kicker for this game’s audio department is the voice staff. All the voices from the movie make a return to in this game and perform well. Optimus Prime is especially highlightable. But his voice can become annoying when he repeats himself every ten seconds until you reach your objective.
While the act of “transforming” is fast and looks cool, the problem lies when the player is in vehicle format. Most cars handle like tanks and turning/steering is either too touchy or too floating depending on the playable character. Plus, many missions starring the best characters like Optimus Prime, are based around time limit driving challenges. I would much rather kick the snot of evil robots as Optimus Prime rather than drive from point A to point B.
Transformers is nothing special but it will entertain as a decent rental and it should be noted that it is better than your average movie licensed game. While replay value is rather limited (no online or multiplayer support of any kind), the simple but explosive gameplay is something to tinker with. Transformers isn’t exactly “more or less than meets the eye” but has the potential to put a smile on action game fans…even if it will be short lived.