High Moon Studios had some great mechanics with War for Cybertron. The gameplay was fast-paced and transforming on the fly was fun and essential to the experience. With the third Michael Bay movie, it was inevitable that a game tie-in would be over the horizon. It was a no brainer that High Moon Studios should once again take the reins of another Transformers game. However, many of the things that made War for Cybertron's campaign enjoyable, gets left on Transformers: Dark of the Moon's cutting room floor.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon serves as a prequel to the movie. The Transformers are still serving with the NEST team to locate and eliminate the remaining Decepticon forces. The game combines a number of Autobot and Decepticon campaign missions to flesh out the story. The campaign is rather short. Spread amongst seven missions, you'll play three missions as the Autobots and three as the Decepticons and one final mission as an Autobot, but the last mission is just a boss battle so it feels even shorter. Also, the player is forced to be a predetermined Transformer rather than be able to choose from a set of three like in War for Cybertron.
Fans of War for Cybertron will find the gameplay very familiar. Dark of the Moon plays exactly like the title. The game is a third-person run-and-gun type style of gameplay and players can still transform on the fly almost anywhere in the game. However it is the level design that makes all the difference for this title. In War for Cybertron, the levels felt more open and the Transformers were more mobile because of it. In Dark of the Moon, You find yourself in cityscapes, industrial buildings and ancient ruins. These spaces are very enclosed corridors-type levels and movement becomes rather stiff. Along with the vehicle mode comes a new "semi" transformation called Stealth Mode. In it, the vehicle gets decked out with weapons with unlimited ammo and armor for extra durability. It makes you a bit more destructible, but it slows down vehicle mode when in it. Plus, it is the default setting for vehicle mode, so if you want to truly be in vehicle mode, you have to hold down another button.
Dark of the Moon does switch up some of the gameplay here from War for Cybertron. There will be times were Transformer's weapons and transformation function becomes disabled and the game changes to a stealth-action game for awhile. High Moon Studios tried some things to differentiate itself from its previous title, but they don't expand on it enough. Michael Bay's Transformers is way more physical combat than any other incarnation of the Transformers. They get in close and they either use guns at extremely close range, use more melee weapons, or just flat out rip other Transformers apart with their bare hands. These Transformers don't do that here and it is disappointing. Those moments in the movies actually looked really great and it would have been fun to actually do it. You'll still just be blasting robots from afar.
Dark of the Moon comes with a multiplayer feature and it does work this time around, however it seems development for this title was rushed so things had to be cut from the product. There are only three modes for play here; your standard free-for-all deathmatch, team deathmatch and Conquest where you try to control three points enough to win the match. Also, the enclosed spaces still return from the campaign and jetting around in vehicle mode almost doesn't happen, especially for jet Transformers. You'll hit the invisible ceiling very fast and you'll more than likely have to fly really low and through corridors rather than soar through the air. Also, character classes feel non-existent this time around. Certain Transformers are slower or faster depending on class, but they don't come with the perks that War for Cybertron's multiplayer had such as jets being able to heal teammates and Commander Class Transformers being able to boost the attack powers of their allies. Also, once you start a match, you are stuck as that Transformer and can't change to another.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a movie tie-in game and it is because of that it has its flaws. It feels like the development has been rushed on it and had to meet a certain deadline. War for Cybertron is in there, but it feels some key components have been gutted out of it. It is impossible to not compare it to the title. Gameplay is still there, but the story is a lot shorter and level designs make the pacing slower. The Transformers of this game just come off as treading mediocrity.