transformers image
Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen

Producer: Activision
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Platform: Playstation 3
Rating: Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure

4 stars


Transformers — Less Than
Meets The Eye!

Written by Josh Moorhead

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (brought to you by Activision) for PS3 is as cheap as my headline. It is the next in a long line of sad titles that have walked that green mile march to their sentenced death. It is a licensed game and that means what it means, unfortunately as it almost always has, warts and all.

Or perhaps that should be rust as giant robots don’t really suffer from acne. This game finds plenty of other things to suffer from though, like its source material. Transformers 2 the movie even if you thought it was awesome wasn’t all that deep. And even if you did think it was awesome that enthusiasm most likely will not carry over to this port.

The game is essentially a shoot em’ up that boils down to: enter area, shoot Decepticons, leave area, go to new area, and shoot same ol’ Decepticons. The game manages to make work of a Transformer about as thrilling as a nine hour day in a cubicle. Besides the boredom of work “Revenge” reminded me of a few other things, like those 2D side-scrolling brawlers of yore, say “Streets of Rage” or “Golden Axe” which were downright repetitive but fun as the dickens. “Revenge” is all punch n’ go, but with no fun to show for it. You play as all the Autobots across various zones, like Shanghai, California and Egypt and every level will see you dropped into an enclosed map where you find blips on a radar and then repeatedly punch or shoot them in the face for some greater cause. This does not feel like playing a game after a few hours, it feels like repeatedly being punched or shot in the face.

“But,” you say “you can TRANSFORM!” sure, and this should be cooler too. It’s obvious that the game had some ambitions, while running around in full robot mode the player is essentially in a standard issue action title, and while in vehicle mode the game does it’s best imitation of “Twisted Metal” or “Burnout”. The controls while you’re a semi or car are pretty tight. When you’re a jet or a helicopter though they get loose and confusing. Transforming is seamless, as it should be, but the choice to change control schemes once you are transformed is a poor one. Why is it necessary that shoot and jump should become different buttons once I’m a car? It kind of turns our heroes into drunken sailors in a fight.

Your enemies in the fight will also be a little confusing. While you might expect “Revenge’s” AI to be weak, it’s actually just kind of a pussy. If you drive halfway across your radar to engage the enemy rather than getting in some good hand to hand combat or a shoot out your opponent will often take one slap, and then transform into something the size of a smart car, cry and drive away to hide in an alley somewhere. This makes the game all very cat and mouse, demanding all the finger-fury of a button masher with none of the reward. And cat and mouse? C’mon! This is supposed to be giant effing robots going to world war!

“Revenge” takes all the energon out of the heroes and villains you play as (yes, you can go on the Decepticon campaign but it is largely identical). The opportunity for explosive cut scenes are even subbed out for animations of the transformers standing around the equivalent of their water cooler and bitching. So allow me.

The controls are iffy, the plot is non-existent, the campaigns are relatively short but frustrating leaving no replay value, the maps are small not leaving much room to wreak havoc in and there’s nothing in the design that makes you feel as if you’re actually a giant transforming robot. Some of these complaints could follow over from the film, but with Michael Bay’s direction the movie’s at least flashy and loud. “Revenge” doesn’t go “boom!” in any way. It doesn’t deserve the HD it’s packaged in. The graphics are dreary and lack detail, the sound is sharp but lacking in variety, the camerawork suffers from questionable placement at times, but without the style to compensate.

“Transformers Revenge of the Fallen” is good at answering a few questions. Is Megan Fox still hot as a vaguely discernable stack of rendered 0’s and 1’s? Yes. Could it ever get old listening to Optimus Prime? For sure. Could a Transformers video game ever make “Harvest Moon” look like an enthralling actioner? Yes. Could an awesome Transformers game possibly exist? I hope so. But for now revenge is still served cold.

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