Transformers: The Game Review

Another year, another summer, another big movie season is upon us. That means the game tie-ins are also here; which brings us to today’s lesson: Transformers The Game. The cartoon that came during my childhood spawned a ravenous following with toys up to our eyeballs and a massive animated movie that made millions. And why not? They’ve remade classics and comic book heroes, and now they turn to TV. A few TV shows have already seen the modern movie screen, so they’re just diving a little deeper into the thing that today’s writers enjoyed when they were young.

Transformers: The Movie is just days away.  It has been 20 years since the Transformers have been truly mainstream, but pop culture phenomenon like vehicles that can transform into giant robots doesn

The graphics push the PS2 to its limits. They’re really good. I haven’t seen any of the movie save for the trailers, but the game has captured it quite nicely. In game, the streets, buildings, fences, and even the trees have come out quite well. The cars, the houses, and the people walking down the sidewalks flow surperbly together for the immersion necessary for a 3rd person Action/Adventure game.

The bots themselves are highly detailed in both vehicle and anthropomorphic forms. The cars are nicely replicated; even if they aren’t the same as they were in the old days. However, we’ve seen plenty of car games. Cars are easy. The “natural” forms of the Transformers are painstakingly crafted to represent the robotic nature of the original with its new vehicular accessories. I hated having a box of left over parts when I transformed my toys from one guise to the next, but these ones don’t have a lot of things that you wonder where they went.

The voice acting is certainly something to behold. Some is probably taken from the movie, but some bits were recorded just for The Game itself as well. The real voices of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker (the original voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron) are just nostalgia brewing genius, and it sounds like Shia did some of his own work as well.

The music in the background is fitting, and not too distracting. I kept it at default setting where it quietly weaves well with the roar of sirens, gunfire, and the many, many, explosions all about. There was a couple instances where a vehicle that was stuck in place would still be running its engine after all the occupants bailed out. This was somewhat distracting as you got closer to it, and didn’t know what the source was. Best to just keep moving anyway.

In a word, ugh. For the PS2, the keys are not reprogrammable. I hate that! I don’t know if it was space limitations or laziness, but I could really do with an option to change a couple button functions. Fine, I’ll live with it. What I won’t live with is sloppy physics. The driving feature is about is accurate Pole Position was for Atari’s 5200 except that you have to add a “turbo” button. Ok, we’re not talking about regular cars so maybe just half a demerit. That we’re not talking about normal cars also explains why lightposts and trees snap from their base like dried spaghetti? Ok. Yet, when I’m driving I can be sideswiped and spun out of control by an ice cream cart. No, not a truck. A push cart with ice cream in it. Yeah.

However, when I’m in robotic form I can pick up that ice cream truck and throw it! That is, if I can pick it up. The game says I can pick it up. It’s right there. Ok, focus. I’m bending and  … ok better luck next time. I’m bending and … third time’s the charm. I’m bending and … what am I doing down here again? The answer is then delivered to my face in the form of another robotic foot belonging to the bad guy. Nevermind that part then, we’ll just run around. I’m six stories tall, but I can’t seem to achieve more than 20 miles per hour and may the Allspark be with you if you have to turn a corner. The left thumbstick is for direction of motion, but the right thumbstick is for direction of the camera. This has a pretty high curve, but once you manage that things go along better.

If there is to be a problem with a movie tie-in, it is that the game expects you to have seen the movie. Therefore you know, through visual experience, how to solve certain logistics issues. What they don’t provide is any ingenuity. You will solve this problem in the same way that the movie did or you will die trying. And die, and die, and die. The game is also pretty linear. You must defeat this section in the same way that the movie did if you want to see the next part of the movie in the game. It’s a rather painful loop sometimes. Though, if you enjoyed the movie, this game is going to be a nice way of experiencing it again. There are two angles in the game to play; the Autobot perspective, and the Decepticon perspective. The brilliant part is that they aren’t just mirror-images of each other, or the one side in reverse. A big thanks and kudos to the team to make this two very distinct storylines. As you progress along the stories you earn bonus features which are largely just images from the movie or the old cartoons. The images are not in any kind of order either, so of 160+ “shots” maybe you’ve unlocked numbers 25, 79, and 152 and have to scan the entire list, one at a time, to see them. If you’ve been fortunate enough to discover a couple of consecutive images, you can’t go to the next one without first backing out of the one previous; not the best implementation.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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