Dispatching foes with a satisfyingly metallic clanging; the gutteral, robotic voices of some of the greatest forces known to mankind; something that can morph seamlessly between an ass-kicking monolith of metal and a beautifully polished Chevy Camaro. The question I put to you, oh readers, is what more could you ask for? The revival of the Transformers brand to the mainstream market through the two recent Michael Bay films, the latest bearing the same name as the video game incarnation, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, has evidently brought about a resurgence in the popularity of the iron giants - show by the two tie-in games, both of which have now made an appearance on the Xbox 360. Having seen and enjoyed both the movies, I set to work taking apart the forces of the Decepticons.
Leaping straight into the game, I am met with a sleek looking menu which is supported by similarly presented loading screens and mission summaries. All looks well so far. I then take the step in the direction of the tutorial and as soon as the first roughed-up looking pixel dances and jives its way onto the screen, like a slightly drunk teacher at a school disco, I know I'm in for a lacklustre visual buffet of outdated graphics and ugly polygons. Where in most games of this advanced day and age there would be smoothed edges, pampered and pedicured to a glistening sheen, Transformers serves up a mishmash of dirty looking colours as rough as a tramps fingernails and even less enjoyable to look at. I don't know what I was expecting; as far as trends go, movie tie-in games don't tend to have the best graphics, but I was certainly disappointed by Transformers' half-hearted and shaky bearing of the standard - a definite let-down after seeing the glossy effects of the movie.
Progressing through the game in a non-linear manner, the player can choose in which order to do the missions - and for which faction, as there are two campaigns that are unlocked in the most bizarre, non-chronological order I've seen for a while. This haphazard jumbling of the missions detracts from what is already a pretty weak story - tied to the film with the most tedious and loose of connections - leaving a game which fails to drive the player towards...well...anywhere.
When you do arrive at one of a plethora of poorly designed environments, you get the wonderful opportunity to partake in some of gaming's worst combat. The melee system is clunky and unresponsive, leaving the furious uncoordinated mashing of the 'X' button as the only path to victory. The ranged system is needlessly overequipped, having two separate cooldown meters and a questionable button configuration to change between your two firearms, both of which will always, without a doubt, fail to achieve their desired effect.
As a unit, the graphics are not about to get me on my knees, fearing Luxoflux, the game's developers, as my new god. They're a mish-mash of drably coloured levels, barren looking ground and the Transformers' animations are about as smooth as grating your face on a tree stump and stuffing any excess roughly through a rock polisher. It was nice seeing the detail of the Transformers' respective bodykits recreated accurately from the movie, but lazy finishing negates any enjoyment that could be gathered from this.
The game however, contrary to my above rants, is not all bad. It offers some hefty, mechanical sound effects which make you feel like you really are throwing a big lump of metal around an industrial estate, and the voice acting will be enjoyed by fans of the film as the voice talents of the movie make an appearance here too. Unfortunately, this is where the praise ends - for both the audio and the game in general. The soundtrack, performed by Los Angeles Electronica outfit, Julien K, is severely lacking. Where I expect a game's score to shoot me to the precipice and allow me to soar back down at the most epic and climactic of moments, Revenge of the Fallen's only gave me cause to dabble with the options, reducing the tinny blaring racket's volume to a nice, managable 0.
As unprofessional as it is, I will tell you all now that I am scrabbling for my copy and paste button and sticking this mess of a review for a landfill site of a game into a word counter. I'm going to shift the blame for this onto the game as my struggle to write what you read before you is fully attributable to the low, low, low calibre of the game. I always try to take a slightly positive view of everything, but the only positive that Revenge has going for it is that invariably, the terrible, abominable, reprehensible murder that developers Luxoflux have enacted upon this title will eventually come to an end.
The audience for these cash-cow milking movie tie-in games tends to be of the younger persuasion, but unfortunately, because of the way of the industry, the fact remains that this game will probably recieve a vastly greater audience than it deserves. I would not recommend this atrocity to anyone but the least-discerning of gamers, and the most die-hard lovers of all things Transformers, although in both cases the player would probably still be disappointed. It will probably keep young gamers interested for a while, but for anyone who has experienced the dizzying heights of gaming's pinnacle titles, this is best left avoided unless you're wanting a sour taste and an unjustifiably lighter wallet.
Sam has been unable to peel his bloodshot eyes and RSI-ridden wrists from the world of gaming since he was first introduced to it, like all good junkies, by his Grandad. From those early days of MegaDrive sweetness, bashing through the throngs of enemies on Shining Force II, his love of all things games has extended upwards and outwards onto a variety of platforms. You can either believe that spiel, or get the real scoop and know that his spaceship actually crashed here some years ago and he is currently incognito as a games writer for Console Monster.