The popular cartoon series and toy line from the '80s finally made its way to the big screen this summer in Michael Bay's Transformers. It just wouldn't be a blockbuster without a video game of the same name. Thanks to Activision, we have Transformers: The Game, which allows you to run around as an Autobot or a Decepticon, depending on which side you prefer to grow bored with first.
The brief intro explains that the AllSpark, a cube which gave these transforming robots life, and needs to be protected by the Autobots (the good guys). The Decepticons want it for its power to do evil things, so regardless of which side you choose, the general idea is the same; you need to get to the AllSpark before the other side does. There is no coherent storyline, so the game isn't ruining anything if you haven't seen the movie yet. Like the movie, transforming robots with big guns on screen look great, but a video game is going to need a lot more than that to keep people interested.
The game is split into chapters, with a clear and simple objective in a confusing environment. If you're playing as an Autobot, you get dinged if you're causing damage to your surroundings. It's just too bad that you're this giant robot that manages to bring a building down by just looking at it. It's impossible to wipe up Decepticon drones in the busy suburban streets without trampling over cars and bumping into buildings. Using your target reticule is difficult at best. When you finally get a lock, you need to quickly hold down the lock-on button or it will go away. Switching to melee helps, but drones can only take a few hits and if you happen to combo your attack, you'll combo into a building. The camera doesn't help either. It switches and rotates when you don't want it to, usually facing a direction that doesn't include the enemy. It's a good thing there is a mini-map in the bottom corner, otherwise you wouldn't really be able to tell where anything is.
If you're not killing drones, you're driving around Crazy Taxi style to get to the next location or chase down Decepticons. This wouldn't be so bad except that the streets are narrow and even with the help of the mini-map, it can be a pain to chase down your target because of the sloppy controls. Boss fights are frustrating as they can't be harmed by guns, so you're limited to throwing things at them and landing melee attacks. This just dropped the fun factor by a lot.
Playing as the Decepticons is slightly more exciting since your goal is to destroy things and that seems to come naturally without even trying. You'll get a chance to pilot airborne vehicles, allowing you more freedom. At least, it appears that you have more freedom but you're still confined to your mission which doesn't let you wander. You'll even get a chance to play as Scorponok, who has the best mode of transportation by far. Burrowing in the sand and tunneling your way to the enemy beats flying and driving through city streets in this game. But even then, the missions are repetitive and you will soon realize you're doing the same thing in different locations.
Visually, the robots you control look fantastic but the cluttered and somewhat dull environment takes away from the overall aesthetic appeal of the game. The cut scenes aren't that great either but voice actors Shia LaBeouf who plays Sam Witwicky in the movie, Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, the original voices for Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively, add a bit of authenticity to the game. The soundtrack for Transformers: The Game doesn't stand out either which complements the vapid gameplay, leaving very little, if anything, to be excited about. There is bonus content to unlock if you have the urge to do so, such as video clips, movie stills and G1 skins.
Movie licensed games have a tendency to be less than engaging, and this one is no exception. Transformers fans may overlook the game's shortcomings and still want to take control of their favourite Transformer and blow things up. This would have been a blast to play with multiple players, but you're stuck with single player campaign mode. The clunky controls, lousy storytelling and overall unappealing gameplay make it difficult to recommend this game because you're better off watching the movie.