Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Rolls Out - Review

By Jeremy M. Zoss in Reviews
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:00 am
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More or less than meets the eye?
By Andrew Mellick

Video games based on movies have been a marriage made in hell ever since E.T. graced the Atari 2600.  But in recent years the genre has had a comeback of sorts as game developers and movie producers have worked together to create more than just extra licensing cash grabs.  Enter Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  Previous iterations of the franchise haven't proven successful in the video game world until High Moon's last game, War for Cybertron.  So anticipation runs high for the robots in disguise to bring their particular brand of "car"nage (see what I did there?) full force.  Video games, robots, fast cars and explosions; how could it not work?!

Dark of the Moon picks up two years after the events of Revenge of the Fallen and serves as a prequel to the upcoming movie.  Humanity believes the Decepticons have fled earth.  However, Optimus Prime doesn't buy it and thus keeps vigil over the planet for Decepticon forces.  The game picks up with you, as Bumblebee, in South America assigned to upload a virus into Soundwave's network system.  The purpose of the virus is to give the Autobots information on the location of Megatron's forces throughout the planet.  Things unravel from there as you travel across the globe and take on the form of many series favorites in an effort to rid the planet of the Decepticon threat.

It's an entertaining story that provides opportunity for gameplay to take place across many locales.  The result is a fast paced, action filled narrative that keeps the energy up while avoiding stale scenery and repetitive level design.  

Speaking of scenery...

With all these great locales you would expect a veritable cornucopia of eye candy. And there is....sort of.  It's a pretty game, from the lush foliage of South America to the decaying skyscrapers of post-apocalyptic Detroit.  There is a wide swath of color that definitely keeps your eye.  Unfortunately it all falls just a bit short.  There is a disconnect between the background and the characters.  It's like watching robots fight on a painting. Adding a little life to these backgrounds would have gone a long way to make it feel more organic.

The characters themselves look great in robot form.  The battles between Autobots and Decepticons can get pretty intense. These metal monsters tear across the screen, blowing one another to bits in fantastic detail with virtually no slowdown or clipping. No small feat, considering there are at times a couple dozen Transformers doing battle in cramped locations causing maximum damage.

Playing in robot form is smashing good fun, literally.  Dark of the Moon puts you in the metal boots of many series' favorites.  Each plays differently with unique strengths and weapons.   The game balances these characters out nicely so if you don't like a particular character's attributes, you won't be stuck with him for too long.

Unfortunately once they transform into vehicles it's not nearly as impressive.  The movement turns clunky.  The vehicles just float over the surface and bounce around like pinballs.  It's frustrating to play through and really slows the action down. The vehicles have been modified so the Transformers can fire weapons will in vehicular form.  But trying to actually fire upon a foe in said form is where the problem lies.  You can try to fire on enemies manually by moving the aiming reticule around the screen from enemy to enemy.  But using this method will almost assuredly leave you in a pile of smoldering metal.  You can take advantage of the auto-aim system which allows you to lock onto a target via the left bumper button.  But this method takes all skill out of the equation as the reticule locks onto a target with sniper like precision until it is obliterated.  So it's either next to impossible or insultingly easy.

Otherwise, the controls work well enough.  From time to time they can get confusing as you switch between vehicle and robot.  Fortunately, Optimus Prime is in your ear with helpful reminders when needed.  The main issue is again the vehicular mode as the handling is really loosely and has a tendency to send you bouncing off walls, slowing your progress.

Overall, Dark of the Moon does a lot of things right.  The story mode, while short, is action-packed.  It's a great little piece of lore that fleshes out more of the Transformer tale.  The gameplay is fun and frenetic.  Smashing through cities and destroying other robots in spectacular explosive gore is just as satisfying as it sounds.  

But for these rights there are glaring wrongs that hold the title back.  The graphics, while beautiful, are lifeless and suck a lot of energy out of the game.  The entire vehicular mode is a garbled mess that only serves to frustrate the game play and bog down the story.  

Overall it's decent for a licensed game, but Transformers: Dark of the Moon fails to reach the heights achieved by War for Cybertron.

The Official Verdict: 3 out of 5

This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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