Transformers seems to be something that all children of the 80s have in common. Talk to any 20-something guy about favourite childhood cartoons and the action packed adventures of Optimus Prime and his gang of transforming robots will more often than not come up. News of a live action movie brought many fans to their knees, as tears of joy swelled all around them, and a proper next-gen video game caused similar excitement. While the movie seems to have delivered the goods, the game sadly falls foul of the dreaded movie license curse.
For reasons unknown, but probably a short development cycle, Traveller's Tales have created a game that is somehow dull, broken, repetitive and ugly. Given giant robots to play with that can transform into cars, jets, helicopters, and more, I think it's fair to say that they missed a rather big opportunity.
The game follows the story of the movie, which I won't spoil here but sees the Autobots and Deceptions landing on earth and tracking down Sam, a teenager who's just got his first car. What this boils down to in the game is the Autobots fighting Deceptions and the Deceptions blowing stuff up. If handled correctly this could have been fun in itself, but it isn't.
Flaw number one is the combat system. Your target lock-on is one of the worst I've come across in a modern video game, often failing to lock on until you've hammered the button four or five times, or aligned yourself perfectly with the enemy you're trying to target. And when you do manage to target an enemy you find that your guns are largely useless - something that is quite odd considering their obvious power.
Other than weak grunt-like transforming enemies, you'll find that almost every fight requires the enemy's shield to be taken down, before you can run in and batter him with your metal fists. Being hugely advanced robots you'd expect a weapon would have been developed to take out such shields, but no; in order to take them out you have to pick up an object from the Earth environment and lob it into the enemy. This makes them stumble and allows you to go in for an attack. Repeat a few times and you win.
With the combat largely broken I had little hope for the car/plane/ helicopter play, and I was right to expect very little. Cars handle appallingly, making the simple task of driving from one checkpoint to another a hassle, with it being far too easy to over-steer into a wall. World physics don't help things, with your car able to plough through busses and toss them into the air, while other objects will stop you in your tracks. Air-based gameplay is a little more enjoyable, but that's got more to do with a lack of objects to crash into than actually being fun.
Add in mission objectives that are so uninspired that you wonder if they were in fact placeholders for ideas that didn't materialise in time and you have a game that is almost entirely devoid of likable features. Visually - on the next-gen systems at least - it's passable, but by no means beautiful. Environment destruction is fairly neat, robot models are excellent and there can often be a lot of stuff happening on-screen (at determent to the frame rate), but the world looks rather sterile and more like a previous-gen game in new clothes than a real next-gen title.
If you're a fan you can unlock numerous Generation 1 Transformers models to play as, but these in no way make the game worth playing through. Stomping around for a few minutes will bring some fun, but as far as summer movie licensed video games go, Transformers is sadly one of the worst we've seen this year. While the movie stands, the video game most definitely falls.