Game Review: Transformers: The Game

Game: Transformers: The Game

Publisher: Activision

Released: 2007

Platform: Available on all systems, tested on the Nintendo Wii for this review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Activision’s Transformers: The Game transcends the common movie tie-in with a robot bust up which ranks among the best videogame titles for the Cybertron natives, and in many ways surpasses the outstanding Atari Transformers offering of 2004. The graphics are excellent and the controls responsive, while the game play is engaging and challenging.

The Transformers is one of the most innovative and endearing toy lines ever. However, most of the videogames licensed for the franchise have been sub par at best. Some of them were straight up horrible. This “Next-Gen” offering is sure to excite and entertain the diehard fan of the toys and the casual gamer alike.

The first Transformer I ever saw was Soundwave. This was in back elementary school when my friend brought this bizarre boom box / robot toy into assembly. Me and the boys had never seen anything like it before and went apesh*t over it. Before that school year was out Transformers took the rest of the world by storm, with wave after wave of “robots in disguise” - Autobots, Decepticons, Dinobots, Insecticons, Unicron, Beast Wars, Triple Changers... they just kept coming.

Cybertron is shown as a war-torn husk in the opening sequence of the game, which pretty much follows the movie and sets the mood off spectacularly. I was amped to begin kicking some robot ass. The game layout is similar to another popular invasion title, “Destroy All Humans,” where you move throughout a somewhat open-ended environment to different missions which are highlighted on a map. The missions range from button-mashing robot battles and timed car chases, to all out environmental destruction. 

There are two story arcs here. The campaign closest to the movie plot is the Autobots storyline, which rotates the player through different characters as the chapters progress. You begin playing as Bumblebee, then to Jazz, Ironhide and by mid-story you are controlling Optimus Prime, driving in automobile mode through the city and suburbs - then transforming into a robot to battle the various challengers on a quest for the Allspark. For long-time fans of the cartoon, you will be transported back to the first generation of Transformers by the outstanding voice work of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, who were the original voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron in the cartoon.

The Decepticons story arc starts you out in the desert and has a military feel to the navigation and combat. One thing that sets this title apart from other military style shooters is the ability to transform instantly from a robotic foot soldier to an attack helicopter at the push of a button. As the bad guy, your goals are primarily to destroy various structures and facilities. This desert campaign was a fun concept, and I feel would have translated nicely to the live multiplayer format. I have already heard that a sequel to the flick is in talks, so perhaps we will get another Transformers game with cooperative options in the near future.

Anyone who plays this game will be thrilled just to move around in the Transformers universe as a deadly giant robot - it's dope! I would recommend at least renting it for all Wii owners, as it among the best looking games currently out for the Nintendo system.

The environments are nicely scaled with the robots looking properly huge, plus the explosions and destruction are rendered grandly. It should be noted that the backgrounds are somewhat more detailed on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. The controls are responsive on all platforms. The major drawback on the Nintendo version is that the camera is mapped to the targeting system of the Wii Remote, and you really have to really concentrate to point it correctly in order to follow the action. Because it is so difficult to control the view during game play, this took me about 45 minutes or so of practice to actually be competent enough to go on the missions.

Some missions I blew right through. Some were hard as f**k! I’ve read where some reviewers accused this game of being too easy, specifically for the Xbox version. The Wii version is not easy! It takes a great deal of effort to control the camera perfectly. I spent a few frustrated hours on one particular chase sequence in the Autobots campaign. Even though there are challenging moments, you are not likely to have to Google a walkthrough to complete any of the objectives. Most of the enemies can be easily battered to bolts by punching a few times, and the tough guys can be swatted with anything handy around you. In fact, you can pick up most any object and chuck it right at them, breaking through any defense.

The cut scenes are right from the movie, and simply serve to move the story forward. Where this game really shines is the mechanics. The action is immersive and the movement is expertly crafted. You can zoom right in on the Transformers models and see that every detail is right out of the movie, and they look fantastic.

The graphics and game play are robust and make this title a must-have for the hardcore gamers. However, casual players may not find much replay value in this title. Activision’s Transformers: The Game is a tight rental, and there is enough content to justify a fan’s purchase.