By Mike Nelson 04/20/2007 While a few iconic characters from my childhood continue their resurgence back into pop culture intact, even more are re-imagined to "fit" the new age, making me wonder if the people behind the scenes watched cartoons or read comics. I'm sure they did; it's just...Megatron, as an alien jet?
Transformers: The Game is set to fit into that place of reserved judgment alongside other licensed games -- cash-in or arcade game. Not only will this game attempt to clear the name of other lackluster Transformers titles, it also has to compete with the stigma created by other movie licensed games that have, more often than not, fallen on poor quality and rushed release dates. But we're talking about giant robots that transform into cars, jets, and helicopters, in a game made by the team that brought us Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. They can totally overcome the obstacles, right? We hope so.
SCREENS: The 360 and PS3 versions actually use the same character models as the feature film -- straight from Industrial Light and Magic. [Click the image above to check out all Transformers screens.]
Players choose to play through either an Autobot or a Decepticon story arch. As some of you may assume, Autobots have the distinguished responsibility of protecting the human race from the Decepticons who don't mind destroying anything in their way while they try to reclaim the AllSpark. With fully destructible environments and tons of other objects for you to pick up and throw around, the play mechanics cater to the Decepticons at this point. You receive point penalties as an Autobot if you keep destroying everything around you, while you actually get rewarded for all of that stuff as a Decepticon. This balance of play is going to have to be tweaked or else playing as the good guys might not be any fun at all, as you'll be constantly getting docked for hurting someone with a telephone pole that missed its intended target.
The levels we've seen so far -- a small town and a desert -- seem to give a few nods to various sandbox-esque titles; however, it's not that big of a sandbox. The levels will have limited ranges of exploration, as you progress from story point to story point. Although this seems to have robbed players of the ability to fly or drive around a huge city, if handled correctly, no one will really notice if they're having too much fun following the storyline. Whether that's the case here remains to be seen.
Transformations happen on the fly, whenever you want and however many times you want. But with the way some of the levels are set up -- go to point A, fight, go to point B, fight -- the vehicle forms look to be for transportation purposes only. The melee combat system seems to have taken some cues from button mashers, and you can unlock new melee and ranged attacks (see: lasers) later in the game.
SCREENS: The environments are fully destructible, and any debris that falls to the ground is fair game for use as a projectile or melee weapon. [Click the image above to check out all Transformers screens.]
We didn't get to see the PSP, Wii and PC versions in action, but from what we know, the Wii game will use motion controls for some of the flying Transformers. The PSP version, being developed by Savage, will have 20 playable characters from both the live action film and previous generations going through an "enhanced version of the film's storyline." That's straight from the horse's mouth, but what that means exactly is yet unknown. (Maybe we'll get to see the iconic caricatures of the Transformers?)
However, we did get to see the DS version in action, which is being put together by Vicarious Visions. This version seems a bit ambitious as there will be two different SKU's: Autobot or Decepticon. Each version will feature exclusive levels and characters, and local wireless multiplayer. Players can also engage in the ongoing "AllSpark" wars via Wi-Fi. The stats from the online play will be uploaded to the internet, allowing players to see which side is "winning" the war. Sounds fun in theory, but we'll have to see how this plays out in execution.
So to re-cap: we have a lot of Transformers coming at us from all directions. If you have a gaming machine, chances are you will have the chance to try out any version of this game. The hard part is deciding on which version to get, but that's left up as a personal choice. Or you can just grab a big bucket of popcorn and watch the film on the fourth of July.