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Transformers: The Game

Stage 1 : First Impressions
by Chris Clement (2007-07-14)


Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation

A select list of movies have been able to translate subjects from other mediums on to the big screen without losing the established essence in the process. As hard as that transition is to make, the inevitable video game tie-in, for action movies, seems even more difficult. Transformers the Game gives players the opportunity to become large robots that convert into cool vehicles and mimic the movie's truckload of action. It should seem like a slam dunk of fun, right?

First dilemma in the game: Autobot or Decepticon? That's right, Transformer fans, you get to choose. Those that choose the righteous path of the noble Autobots will begin with Bumblebee, who transforms into a sports car, as he helps to protect humans. More prone to the dark side? You are in luck. Decepticons will start out in the desert with Blackout, a helicopter, in their maniacal quest to find the AllSpark and conquer Earth.


Transformers are cool.  Their driving, however, could use some work

Once a side has been picked, players learn how to maneuver and battle with their Transformer by engaging in a couple of simple missions before moving on to greater challenges. Figuring out the controls is a challenge in itself. Both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are used for controlling these metal beasts. The Nunchuk's analog stick handles movement while buttons C and Z are used to pick objects up and lock on targets, respectively. The Wii Remote's A and B buttons fire primary and secondary weapons, respectively. The (+) button brings up the in-game menu while (-) button resets the camera, which you will use far too often (more on this in a minute). The up button on the d-Pad toggles robot/vehicle transformation which is awkward as it is used a great deal, but is not easily within thumb reach. The motion sensors of the Wii Remote handle aiming as well as moving the camera when the targeting reticle is placed at the edge of the screen. This dual action is a horrible use of the Wii's motion sensing capability since players are unable to move the camera and aim at the same time. It didn't work in Scarface and it doesn't work here. Assigning camera control and targeting control to the Wii Remote has proven a horrible design choice that developers should abandon.

When players are not wrestling with the Wii Remote, they will be tackling some benign, if not pointless gameplay. The early tasks of the game are mostly timed chases and battles with human military or Decepticon "drones" depending on which side is picked. The battles are much too easy early in the game and the beat-the-clock races are entirely pointless, as are the in-game transitions. More than once at the end of a cut-scene, the game returns control of the Transformer back to the player and instructs you to reach a green zone that is one block away, in plain site, and without obstruction. Once this tremendous feat is accomplished, another cut-scene begins. Why the developers felt that this was even a remotely interesting use of the player's game time, I have no idea.


Thankfully, no humans were harmed in the making of this game.

A surprising bright spot in the game were the graphics. The Transformers look really nice and the animation to and from the vehicle mode is smooth and quick, just like in the movie. The surroundings are not going to widen gamer's eyes in delight, but they won't find themselves grimacing either. The absence of widescreen is puzzling, especially in a movie-based game such as this.

The Dolby Pro Logic II audio provides good quality sound and the voice acting is excellent. Optimus Prime sounds as commanding as ever and Megatron is back with his shrill voice of old rather than the more baritone voice used in the movie.

The environment closely follows the movie from suburbs to the desert and even to the Hoover Dam. The surroundings are often interactive fixtures in the game, especially in the city where crashing through street lights, chain-linked fences, and other vehicles will cause them to fall or bounce out of the way. Objects such as these can also be used as weapons to hurl at enemies. Strangely enough, humans, white picket fences, and small shrubs are invincible to all forms of destruction and mayhem. Curses!

Overall, I'm not too high on this game so far. The developers did a decent job with the graphics, sound, and environment, but totally screwed up the gameplay. Of course, there is still much game left to be played - I'm just not sure that that is a good thing. Come back for Stage 2 to see if trudging through Transformers brings about a miracle.

Stage 2: Analysis >


Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation