Transformers: Dark of the Moon

It's traditional, even today, to release below-par games alongside a big movie blockbuster. With Transformers: Dark of the Moon storming into cinemas everywhere, the game simply needed to be on the shelves, regardless of its readiness. What we should all expect is an uninspiring, average shooter tied together with a few cool scenes from the movies. For the most part, this is what you get, but the experience gained with the genuinely excellent release of War for Cybertron, a lot of mistakes are avoided, and although Dark of the Moon lacks a lot of polish, it's by no means terrible, and is actually very enjoyable in a lot of places. They key difference, particularly for those that have been drawn to the Transformers universe only by the recent films, is that you're playing as the main cast from the latest film, appearing as they do in Michael Bay's movies. It might seem like a small thing, but there's something cool about taking the controls of some of the most exciting characters in their recent forms.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The game is split into chapters each dedicated to a particular transformer. Starting off with the Autobots, you get to take control of Bumblebee, Ironhide and Mirage (with a late appearance from Optimus Prime), and switch to a little Decepticon action with the likes of Soundwave, Starscream and Megatron. Not one is a let down, although the level as Soundwave is a definite highlight thanks to some awesome powers (despite a slightly awkward interlude as Laserbeak). Each character has a special ability or two available, activated with the shoulder buttons, while the remainder of the combat usually involves plenty of shooting and some decent melee attacking. The latter is particularly important for building up a good points combo, allowing you to unlock certain trophies for each chapter. Quite often, special attacks, or even the ability to transform, unlock as the level goes on, as members of your faction seek to restore your weaponry or abilities to their full potential. This is particularly impressive with Megatron, who is forced to stomp his way through a wave of enemies with no weapons at all, before they're brought back online. Being able to suddenly unleash Megatron's power on poor unsuspecting autobots is certainly a guilty pleasure.

Vehicle control is frankly a bit dodgy, and it was something that wasn't quite right in War for Cybertron. It does the job, but the handling is certainly strange, and will lead to a few uncomfortable conversations with the scenery. It's usually more fun, though slower, to manoeuvre around in Cybertronian walking form, smashing every enemy with a well-timed melee hit. The core shooting is pretty solid, and the controls responsive, so it's a shame that a few elements like the vehicle sections let things down. It's also a little awkward that the default melee button is the right analog stick, when it would feel more natural on a shoulder button. It might seem lazy not to change it, but the game's so short, you might not have time to get annoyed. The chapters are reasonably brisk, and playing on anything but hard will allow you to skip through in fairly straightforward fashion, which makes it more about enjoying the ride.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Enjoyment is largely linked to some excellent Transformer incarnations, and each one is sufficiently detailed that they appear genuinely authentic. Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Soundwave a particular highlights for the little details that will undoubtedly make many smile. The environments aren't quite so detailed though, and definitely appear to have suffered from rushed development. Thankfully, the thing missing is generally texture detail, as opposed to accurate collision detection and camera control. This means that, although there's few levels that will cause your jaw to drop, there's also nothing that'll have you leaning in your seat trying to compensate for the horrific view you've been offered. It's not perfect, but it's far better than some, and is unlikely to frustrate during the course of the game.

Another key draw is the inclusion of many of the key cast, including Optimus, Ironhide and others. Though Hugo Weaving is absent from the Megatron role, it's good to be re-united with original cast members for the game. In addition, voice actor extraordinaire, and man from every game ever, puts in an appearance; Nolan North taking the role of a military official, with his actual face appearing in a game for a change, rather than just his voice. Though slightly less relaxed than in his role as Nathan Drake, Nolan produces yet another distinct, successful role in gaming, despite the somewhat uninventive dialogue supplied to him. Still, the story chugs along happily and the main characters get suitably irate at all the appropriate moments. More impressive are some of the weapon effects, though a bit more boom and bang wouldn't have gone amiss.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Ultimately, deciding whether you want to try Dark of the Moon comes down to what you want from the game. War for Cybertron was a gamer's game, a Transformers title that went beyond its subject matter and made something that could be enjoyed regardless of the Transformers that starred in it. Dark of the Moon does not achieve such greatness, but it does succeed in letting you enjoy the things that make the films cool. If you don't like Michael Bay's take on the Transformers universe, this game may be best avoided, but for those happy to take control of Ironhide and other Cybertronian greats, the game is a brilliant way to batter the enemy senseless and feel extremely cool in the process.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Activision

Developer:

High Moon Studios

Players:

1

Online:

1-16

Release:

2011-06-24

Trophies:

37

Review summary

Gameplay:

Not polished, but still extremely good fun

Graphics:

Rough around the edges, but Transformers look cool

Sound:

Good voicework and some decent effects

Lastability:

A short campaign, but there is online multiplayer

7.4

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