Version Played: Wii Current CEX Price: £1.50 I’m a huge Transformers fan. Always have been; I religiously watched the original cartoon on The Wide Awake Club and Wacaday back in […]
Version Played: Wii
Current CEX Price: £1.50
I’m a huge Transformers fan. Always have been; I religiously watched the original cartoon on The Wide Awake Club and Wacaday back in the mid-80s, never missing an episode if I could help it. I even tolerated the first of the Michael Bay films – though they got progressively worse, which is quite an achievement considering the infamous shot of enormous Decepti-testicles happened way back in the second film, Revenge of the Fallen.
Last year’s Bumblebee movie did much to repair the terrible reputation of live action Transformers films and, since Transformers Prime, each animated version has been pretty good too. The recent IDW comics had an absolutely astonishing run – with More Than Meets The Eye (focusing on the quest for the potentially mythical Knights of Cybertron) and Robots in Disguise (political struggles on a post-war Cybertron) running two stories in parallel (and occasionally crossing over), touching on a diverse range of perhaps surprising themes, with sprawling casts and rewarding longform narratives.
In video games, though there have been plenty, there’s only been a few that I’d say are unmissable. The PS2 Transformers game, set within the Armada series of the early 00s, was fantastic. Transformers: Devastation, was a very Japanese, action-oriented take on the original cartoon that got an awful lot right, not least the overall aesthetic – which really did make it feel like a classic episode come to life. The pinnacle, however, is almost unquestionably Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, developed by High Moon Studios and published by Activision. Fall of Cybertron was a sequel to High Moon’s War for Cybertron; both third-person cover shooters. Though War for Cybertron was a little dour in its stylings, Fall of Cybertron was a gloriously colourful game with absolutely enormous levels and several standout moments throughout the campaign that made it a hugely memorable experience.
The Wii fared ok with Transformers games, in fairness. The first, based on the original Michael Bay movie, was a third person actioner with a neat sense of scale and transforming at will. The second, Revenge of the Fallen, felt like a step backwards, with more restrictive levels and no ability to transform on-the-fly – but it was still a reasonably fun game. Transformers Prime was an okay translation of the animated series with a few motion control problems (that dreaded spectre that affects so many Wii games) and Cybertron Adventures was a satisfying on-rails cover shooter (based in High Moon’s ‘X of Cybertron’ universe) which, although missing the ability to transform freely, was nonetheless great fun (though the driving sections were a bit buggy and the final boss fights were ludicrously unfair).
Which brings us to the game based on the third Transformers film: Dark of the Moon. Billed as the ‘Stealth Force Edition’ on Wii, which sounds cool but really means to tell you that YOU CANNOT TRANSFORM. Yep, you got that right – here we have a Transformers game in which you remain in vehicle form throughout. Which is kind of missing the point, isn’t it? Even in the games where you can’t just choose to transform at any point, there’s at least stages to be tackled in alternate forms.
Adding insult to injury is that the pseudo-animated cut scenes, even seconds after finishing a stage that you’ve just struggled through in vehicle form, show you and your team in robot mode. Maddening.
Though you do remain in vehicle form throughout, you can turn your harmless looking ‘Transformer’ into a weaponised vehicle, but there’s added frustration here. Despite being a game based entirely around vehicle combat, your combat mode – sorry ‘Stealth Force’ mode – can run out of energy, forcing you into a powerless, defenseless vehicle mode until you come across more Energon in the level. It’s pretty ridiculous to be mid-battle, surrounded by vehicles that definitely don’t have the same Energon deficiency as you, suddenly needing to explore the level to find what is often a very scarce resource. It’s just poor design – in a vehicle combat game, don’t take arbitrarily take away the combat from the player!
The controls provide further annoyance; though it’s not the same issue that plagues many Wii exclusives – the dreaded spectre of motion controls – it’s still one that unfortunately arises because of the Wii’s unusual control setup. When switching between vehicle and ‘stealth force’ forms, the controls completely change. Suddenly, your camera controls are on the dpad and it just becomes an exercise in frustration to even control your vehicle, in all honesty.
If you can get your head around the controls and don’t mind the fact that you just have a vehicle combat game rather than a true Transformers game, you may get some enjoyment from the campaign, with co-op missions added in for two players that do add some value.
For me, however, there are just too many problems to overlook. The true test of a licensed title is this: would I play and enjoy this even if it was stripped of the licence? Though the answer can still be no and you can still have enjoyment with a game, in this instance the answer is definitely no – and there’s little else to redeem it even with the licence, given how badly it’s been implemented.
Worth a go at bargain bin prices? Nope; there are far better Transformers titles on Wii, along with way better driving games too. Spend those pennies elsewhere!
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