Hands-On Preview Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Game

Because they’re actually pretty good. Well most of them anyway.

”Don’t make me come over there!”

Since the inception of video gaming “Licensed Game” has been synonymous with putting the controller down and reading a good book. Let’s face it, most of the time the “license” is a license to suck.

Transformer games have been no exception to this rule. You’d think transforming robots would be a reasonable basis for a video game but as early as “Mystery of Comvoy” this wisdom has been challenged by an array of lackluster games.

Just 2 years ago our fandom was assailed with Transformers: The Game (when you have to tell us it’s a game, that’s a bad sign). This clunker played like the unholy love child of Michael Bay’s Transformers film and Crazy Taxi. Not in a good way.

This June 26th, Activision will release the inevitable Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Games. They will hit the shelves with the flood of candies, school supplies, and fast food tie-ins intended to hype and capitalize on the sure to be blockbuster film. However some games will distinguish them selves from this list of shameless marketing.

Because they’re actually pretty good. Well most of them anyway.

Revenge of the Fallen will have a different iteration for all but 3 of the major platforms on the market. Tformers got a chance to talk with the developers of these games as well as some hands on time with almost all the versions.

Sony PSP

Sadly, a hands on was not possible.

Nintendo DS

The DS has one of the most interesting versions of Revenge of the Fallen. Once again there will be two versions of the game available, one Autobot, one Decepticon.

With a similar view to their bigger cousins, these games sport some of the most impressive 3D characters and environments on the DS to date. This superficial visual likeness is where the similarities end though.

At their core, the Revenge DS games are Action RPG’s. The Transformers ’07 DS games were some of the more well received and Activision has beefed up some of their more popular elements. In addition to being able to play as core characters from Revenge of the Fallen, DS owners will be developing their own Transformer to battle in the RotF universe.

Starting with one of several Autobot or Decepticon templates, you will level your character up through combat and upgrade their weapons, armor, ect. to create your own personal Transformer. Then link DS’s with 3 others and battle your upgraded mechs. Talk about Transformer-mon.

This version is aimed squarely at the kids. A good move for handheld games. Lots of replay value for the backseated, or TV impaired, and goals that require multiple friends with DS’ to truly enjoy.

Touch screen use is minimally used and never in game play. There is nothing more annoying than game controls that senselessly utilize Nintendo’s dynamic options.

Impressive Graphics (for the DS), innovative targeted game play, and a no nonsense controls make this game a win. Especially for it’s intended demographic.

Nintendo Wii (PS2)

This is an entirely different game from the other consoles and the PC. It is not just scaled back graphics, this was build specifically for the Wii by Krome, of The Force Unleashed fame. Krome Studios Melbourne, formerly Melbourne House was responsible for the PS2 Transformers: Armada game. (Which would have been great were it not for the overly creative button mapping.)

Sadly of the versions coming out this seems the most mediocre, and we’re not just talking graphics. This is where “license” meets waggle controls.

The stop and go, platformer, on rails game play is a stark contrast to the open movement offered on all other platforms. Transformation is mostly meaningless, relegated to the level of a special attack. The stop and go feels more like a light gun game, which is not surprising because should you find a friend to inflict this game on and play co op that is exactly what it will turn into.

Co-Op brings a “drone” into play. This drone hovers above the characters head firing a constant stream of blaster fire, with optional healing, area attack, and laser special moves, fed by an attack meter. The drone is controlled simply by placing a reticule over the desired target and firing. This largely makes the first player superfluous, except as a decoy.

Several times while playing the drone it was necessary to stop firing to let player one get close enough to an enemy to wiggle the Wii-mote and punch it. A fighting technique that was either inexpertly executed or not entirely reliable judging by its relative ineffectiveness. This is nonsensical use of Wii capability at its worst, the innovative controls of the Wii turned against the player.

Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. with the Zapper plugged in and able to blast enemies off the screen. Player two is at a shooting gallery, and player one is out for a quiet stroll in the mushroom kingdom. That’s pretty much what we’re up against here.

Not that the stop and pop drone fest seemed like it’d be much more compelling in single player. We were informed there is a vs. mode which would allow both players to control a transformer for the purpose of one on one battle.

The waggle controls will not be missed on the PS2 port of this game. Sadly both versions will play like what they are, afterthoughts to fill market footprints. There are to many Wii’s and PS2’s out there to ignore. Too bad this offering would have been sad in the PS2’s hey day.

Xbox 360, PC, and PS3

The last entry into the Transformers series in ’07 was more rushed than most licensed games. Many design elements were barely ready for the film, much less the game.

Activsion and developer, Luxoflux learned from that interaction. With pre established lines of communication, some pre existing designs, and knowledge of what to ask for, it seems that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen freed itself from many of the traditional hamperings of licensed games.

That saved time was critical because Luxoflux built this game from the ground up. The goal was to create a real game worth playing on it own merits. While happening during the events of Revenge of the Fallen, this game will not limit itself to them.

Both and Autobot and Decepticon single player campaigns are based in an expanding web of mission options. You progress through the story via a path of your own choosing all the while leveling up your characters abilities. Your entire team levels up at once.

Game play is genuinely fun. The controls are super intuitive and responsive. Great hit detection including the ability headshot your enemies is rewarding. Transformation is a natural part of play.

From a default robot mode holding down of one of the triggers will quickly change you to your faster alternate mode with no loss of inertia, releasing the trigger will automatically change you back. This allows for some dynamic combat and makes the name on the front of the box mean something.

If you hold down another button as you change back to robot mode, your character will perform a special attack. This will add greatly to your “Overdrive” meter, which slowly fills as you destroy enemies. Once the meter is full, you can enter “Overdrive”.

“Overdrive” increases your firing rate, reduces damage, and eliminates weapon over heat. One developer referred to it as “Michael Bay mode”. Considering once you enter it the screen is filled with gunfire and so many enemies are blowing up on screen you can’t tell what’s going on, this name seems appropriate.

Variable weapons and character specific special abilities also play a role in combat.

Sadly both the missions available for play seemed very formulaic. Standard issue protection with between objective swarms of drones. I know they’re not supposed to be drones and they do look cool, but they’re drones. It remains to be seen whether this game fills all the space it makes for it self.

Play itself is fun though, good use of transformation and a feeling of weight and inertia make this the best the best Transformer play experience to date. Not to mention the graphics are fantastic. ILM’s bot’s have never looked better, and the not-drone additions to the cast are such great designs you’ll wonder why they’re not in the movie.

There is something to be said for driving a dump truck off a 12 story building transforming in mid air and punching a helicopter.

A lot of work has been put into the multi-player element of this game. A big part of the value of this game is going to be derived from finding online Transfans to blow up.

In addition to the obvious Deathmatch and Team Death Match (once only Autobot Vs. Decepticon, but now with mixed teams as well) you can also play these variations of some old favorites.

In “One Shall Stand” victory comes when you destroy the leader of the opposing team. All players but the leader re-spawn, and the player who defeats the opposing team’s leader will lead their team in the next round.

“Control Points” is a team based battle to control map points. Think “Transformers: Battlefront.”

“Battle for the Shards” is capture the flag with a collection of Allspark fragments. Race out to capture them and walk back to your base. (Isn’t that the plot of Transformers: Animated’s second season?)

Expect loads of un-lockable content, down loadable content, and dealer exclusive content. New skins now including the first of many G1 inspired skins are already being offered with pre-orders.

Overall this is a fun game, possibly the best Transformers game ever, and while that in itself isn’t saying much, the point stands.

The two groups who are going to play and enjoy this game are existing Transformers fans, and fans of the new movies. Satisfying those groups is about all a licensed game can hope to do. Perhaps play of the full version will reveal hidden depths of a truly great game. On the other hand long term play could turn to monotony. Time will tell.

At the very least this game was well made, with uncommon care for licensed subject matter.

A note on Versions: According to developers the 360 and PS3 versions of the game are identical in every way.

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