Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Sony PS3)

coverTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Developer: Luxoflux
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Action
Release Date: 6/23/2009

So a few months ago I’d written up a brief summary of 25 years of Transformers games, and commented that we really hadn’t been given one that matched up to what most fans wanted out of a Transformers game (sorry Alex, no Grimlock or Predaking yet). Luxoflux had a tall order ahead of them. Back when I wrote that article in January we really had no idea what to expect of the new game other than it was going to be a action title. What we’ve recieved in this is something based off the new film which has little plot, but tons of action and a slew of characters both new and old. They’ve also thrown in multiplayer into a game franchise that hasn’t had it before. Did Luxoflux miss the mark or did they deliver?

Story/Modes
You have two modes in this game. Let’s tackle single-player first. Single player loosely follows the plot from the film, in either the Autobot or Decepticon campaign you’re playing. There are a few moments in the film that don’t make it into the game or have been changed quite a bit, but that might be a good thing as you can follow more of what’s going on through the mission briefings and debriefings. There are 23 different missions through a variety of different locations throughout the world for both campaigns. The story unfolds through the missions as well through updates by the other members of your team. I’ll go out on a limb and say this isn’t going to win any awards for story-telling but it at least does the job, unlike some other games I’ve played recently. I’m looking at you, Up. Playing through with the varying ‘Bots or ‘Cons you have at your disposal really doesn’t change the overall plot, but depending on you play style can really make the levels move faster.

starscream attacksOne big minus on this is not being able to play as Devastator as he moves through the city eating and blowing up everything in his path. That and the rest of the roster is missing some of the heavy hitters from the film, like Sideswipe, the twins Skids and Mudflap, and Jolt. Jetfire also isn’t playable here. On the Decepticons side you’re only given one of the Constructicons to play as and the Fallen is decidedly not playable. The rest of the roster is pretty good and mostly balanced for the part that comes after single player, the multiple kind.

Multiplayer gives you a number of various play modes in all the different areas of the game. You can play as anyone you’ve unlocked for that level and each of the various Transformers on the rosters take the place of the different slots in a typical team game, like the scout, the heavy weapons guy, the medic, the sniper, etc. You get the idea. Some of them double up, like Sideways who is the scout but carries a sniper weapon.

They have broken down the modes into ranked matches which are the only ones that show up on the leaderboards and limit your character and options selection, and player matches that are pretty much anything goes. Within multiplayer you have a number of modes to choose from including: Deathmatch which is you against everyone else, Team Deathmatch which is your team versus the other team for kills, One Shall Stand where you have to kill the opposing teams leader, Control Points where teams control five different points on the map, and Battle for the Shards which is basically capture the flag.

Story/Modes Rating: Good

devastatorGraphics
This is a very pretty game. Although there are very few cutscenes, most of them done in game and look great. From the cracked and well used looking streets to the depressed looking industrial area meant to mimic the scenes shot in Pennsylvania, this game really captures the feel of the film. They mimic the lighting and sets amazingly well. I knew I was in for something special in the Shanghai levels when I felt like the film had really come alive on my screen.

A ton of detail went into the robots themselves and they look amazing. The ones created for the game specifically, such as the Protectobots, the Aerialbots, the Seekers and Breakaway all look like they could have easily made it into the film. On top of the detail in the environments, the weapon effects look great. The damage you can cause to the buildings looks fantastic as well as when you blow up a car or take out the occasional passenger train. My one real complaint was when I was climbing buildings in the free roam sections. When there were reflections, my robot didn’t reflect in the windows at all but the rest of the area behind me was.

Graphics Rating: Great

Sound
With sound effects lifted right from the film, some classic sounds from TF history, the film’s actual score and most of the movies’ voice actors showing up in this game, you’d think the sound would be amazing. For the most part it IS brilliantly done, but I had some issues with it.

Gone are the annoying reminders in the first game when you’re free-roaming, and the updates you get in actual missions are more along the lines of what you need to do next. Sometimes the ‘Con leaders will get in on there and tell you how worthless you are, which can be annoying if things aren’t going well. Still, they’re Decepticons, what’re you going to do? It’s put up or shut up.

Like I said earlier, for the most part, the people who bring these big bots to life in the film also bring them to life here, with a few exceptions. One thing I have to applaud is the game developers giving Soundwave his “voice” back so he didn’t sound like Dr. Claw like he did in the actual film. The Fallen isn’t voiced by Tony Todd which is a huge let down. Todd has this distinct voice to him and his replacement in the game just isn’t up to task.

decepticon briefingHere’s where I’m going to get hung up by the Generation One purists. I couldn’t get behind Welker’s performance as Megarton in this game. Next to Starscream especially, he just sounds whiny and tired and oh so not-threatening. I would have liked to have heard Weaving voicing Meg’s in the game. It just doesn’t work for me when I’m more intimidated by Screamer than the big bad or Megatron.

As always Cullen delivers as Prime and the other Autobots sound great. Mikaela and Sam are also voiced by their actors. Sam is ok for the most part, but there are moments I want to strangle him and it’s more for what he’s saying than his voice. Mikaela’s dialogue is a bit out of character in points as well. They’re not in every mission so it’s not as noticeable, but it’s there.

Sound Rating: Very Good

Control and Gameplay
So how does this behemoth control? Very well surprisingly. You have full control of your camera, and driving and flying aren’t terrible. The only thing I really had problems with vehicle-wise was Grindor, as he’s a helicoptor and requires a different touch than flying one of the jets. One thing that feels weird is the way transforming works. You have to hold down the R2 button to stay in vehicle mode. The harder you hold it in the faster you move, but you’re never stationary in vehicle mode, unless you’re playing Grindor or one of the later flight modes. This would be less of a problem if R2 wasn’t also the button you use to fire your weapons. You have to hold L2 to be in weapon mode and then fire with R2, so if you forget and just hit R2, you’ll end up zipping away in vehicle mode.

I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself, aren’t there enough buttons on the PS3 controller to avoid that? Sure, there could be if they hadn’t assigned you a special weapon or ability, an overdrive mode, a weapon select, melee attacks and jump buttons as well as zoom buttons. It can take a bit to get used to all of your options while you’re playing and where everything is laid out on the controller. At first it feels daunting but I adjusted quickly.

You move your stick or hit a button to fire and the robot on your screen does it. The controls don’t feel loose at all. Movement is covered by the left analog stick, camera movement and aiming with the right analog stick. It all works very well.

demolishorOne thing they did right with this game is make weapons actually affect your enemy as opposed to going into button mashing melee combat like the first movie game. Sure, some enemies have shields (I’m looking at you Prime), but they’re limited in how long they stay up by how much damage they take and they have a recharge time. Depending on which bot you’re playing as, your weapons may not be as strong as your melee attack, but they tell you what your strengths are when you’re picking out who to play. You can still climb the sides of buildings and throw cars as well as destroy the environment; you won’t be bringing down buildings quite as easily as the first game where just running into one would wreck it entirely.

You can also do vehicle attacks with ranged weapons, or charge at an enemy, transform and lay the smack down on them that way. You’ve got a variety of ways to attack someone and really it depends on how you like to play who you should grab up.

This game is mission based. As you earn points you unlock different areas. There are some missions you don’t even have to do in order to beat the game if you do well enough on the others. These don’t necessarily move the plot of the game, but they can rack you up some great energon bonuses to increase your effectiveness in battle. After each mission you go back to your headquarters where they tell you how you did. You’ll even get congratulations if you did really well. Most locations have at least two missions, one you can get into right away and another that doesn’t unlock until that region’s main missions are completed. The last region only has one mission for each area as well as the mission out in the ocean.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good

long haulReplayability
The way missions are set up, you’re really not going to get the most out of them in one pass through. If you’re trying to unlock everything, you’re going to have to play through them several times. Some of the trophies require massive amounts of energon collected, others massive amount of kills, and then you have to platinum on every mission to get other trophies. You really can’t do those on one pass through. To get through a mission fast you have to pretty much kill only those in your way and move quickly, but that won’t get you much energon to unlock with.

You’ve got character unlocks for missions so you can use more characters on mission blocks, some videos and episodes to unlock by doing different things in missions, and unlockables that get you different character looks in multiplayer and in single player.

So really the replayability is built into the way the missions play out. Can you get away with just playing a mission once? Sure, but then your friends will be mocking you for your poor placement on the leaderboards. Unlike the first game, with the fun multiplayer and the way they have the unlockables and upgrades set up you can go back and play this game quite a few times.

Replayability Rating: Good

Balance
While they have a tutorial for each campaign as one of the missions to get you into the swing of things, there is a bit of a learning curve to the controls set-up. If you can’t get the controls right away, you may have a hard time adapting to the game, Besides the special abilities and upgrades, this really is just a third person shooter. Strafe and keep moving and you should be fine.

The Decepticon campaign is a bit harder overall than the Autobot campaign, as it requires more kills and more energon for several trophies. It’s also a bit harder to unlock everyone in different spots in that campaign. While I was poking around I’ve noticed that most people have been playing the Autobots first anyway, but if you leap in on the ‘Con missions you might notice it’s a bit harder at first.

Your first playthrough might take awhile. I think it took me about ten hours to get through both campaigns, but you can really cut down your time on this. Someone who really catches on quickly and is more skilled at these types of games might be able to do in six to eight hours. This game feels much longer than Terminator: Salvation did. It also has the multiplayer to keep you playing after the single player game is done. Honestly though, if you’re not a big Transformers fan, I’d really think about paying full price for this title. Strip away the Transformers and it is just another generic action game with some decent multiplayer modes

Balance Rating: Mediocre

Originality
Based off a 25-year old franchise with several other games before it AND following the motion picture’s theme and visuals? You’re kidding me right? It’s a action game with some neat game mechanics, but really the central base to deploy from has been used before in the Armada game. This is the first time that multiplayer has been put into a Transformers game however. They also put in some nice re-worked Combaticons, Protectobots, Aerialbots and Seekers to flesh out your enemy list as opposed to freaky looking no name drones. Really though, this type of game has been done dozens of times before just not to the Transformers tune.

Originality Rating: Poor

bumblebee axeAddictiveness
This game has a very nice addictive feel to it. I hadn’t run my PS3 controller dead with any game until I picked this one up. Now to adjust this for someone who doesn’t necessarily live and breathe giant robots. This game still sucked me in. The controls are responsive and aiming isn’t terrible. There was a decent variety of missions even though they repeated a few of them in different areas. And taunting people online as your favorite Transformer from the game after you’ve obliterated them is a great feeling too.

Addictiveness Rating: Great

Appeal Factor
A video game tie-in to what looks to be the biggest film of the summer, or perhaps the year? Kids’ll be clamoring for it, and surprisingly they’ve toned down the game (more language and those pesky sex jokes) from the film, the exact opposite of what they did with the Wolverine game. The game is definitely more family friendly than the film. Honestly though, I think most people aren’t going to be picking it up just because of the reviews on other sites I’ve seen (I’m not sure they even gave the game a decent shot). For a Transformer fan though, this game is probably the best one we’ve gotten so far, even surpassing the Melbourne House version as my personal favorite.

Appeal Factor Rating: Very Good

Miscellaneous
I’ve come across a few glitches, the game freezing up once, some timing issues with a few missions where I blew up the building before I eliminated all the Autobots so it didn’t trigger the next event and I had to start over, but they were little things. My other complaint is that after you get Megatron back in your line-up and you go back to older Decepticon missions the dialogue within the missions doesn’t change. Starscream is still ripping on you even though you’re playing Megatron. It just didn’t fit, especially as I was playing through the levels BETTER than when I was playing the others.

Overall though, this game is much more than I expected when I wrote my Transformers feature in January. Sure it’s a movie tie-in, but I have to go out on a limb and say this is probably the best Transformers game I’ve played to date. It has this great cinematic look and feel and the physics seem to work properly and you actually feel like you’re tromping around as this giant robot. The AI isn’t terrible either. It doesn’t just stand there while you smash or shoot away at it. Sometimes the enemies get fixated on climbing up buildings and make easy targets that way, but it’s rare. I’m having a blast with it and will have this thing in my PS3 for a good long time.

Miscellaneous Rating: Very Good

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Good
Graphics Rating: Great
Sound Rating: Very Good
Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good
Replayability Rating: Good
Balance Rating: Mediocre
Originality Rating: Poor
Addictiveness Rating: Great
Appeal Factor Rating: Very Good
Miscellaneous Rating: Very Good
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
Gaming Rexes are sad! Luxoflux had a tall order after the disaster that is the Transformers gaming history. I find the game to be a ton of fun and I feel it is the best game that Transformers fans have gotten to date. Casual fans may want to wait until it drops in price, but there’s enough in the game between the single player and multiplayer to keep people interested for awhile. There hasn’t been any real word on DLC for the game, so right now it’s what you see is what you get. Is this the game fans have been waiting years for? Probably not. Transformers fans are far too picky. It’s a solid game that delivers on what the developer’s were showing off at E3.

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