Transformers is a franchise which means childhood memories for a lot of gamers. Still going strong twenty years on, the franchise pits the autobots versus the decepticons in an ongoing battle to take control of the universe the franchise is set in. With this in mind, this has to be one of the most anticipated games of the year and a lot of pressure was put on the developers shoulders however we can report that they handled the responsibility well and have created a game that any fan of the transformers franchise can both relate to and enjoy.
The storyline in Transformers takes place on earth with battles raging in somewhat real world locations. The Decepticons have invaded earth and taken hostage the Autobots friends, the Minicons. This is your task in the game, eradicate the Decepticon forces and rescue the Minicons. Fairly cliche, but fits in with the franchise and universe of Transformers quite well.
Transformers is a third person action game where the main aim is to survive and rescue the minicons. To do this you have the choice of three Autobot transformers to use, each with different strengths and weaknesses. With the levels being quite large (and usually taking a great deal of time to complete) there is a possibility of getting lost, but the game aids with this in a few ways. The first is the save points shoot a beam of blue light into the air which is in most cases the point you have to reach next. Also if you're encountering enemies on a constant basis chances are that you are on the right track. Some levels have 'roads' which can show the way around a map, but these do not need to be followed and how you attack each objective is fairly open ended.
Transformers is not an easy game, but with that said it is highly unlikely you will get stuck for a great deal of time in any one area. The challenge definitely comes from the number of enemies you encounter rather than their individual brains or impact, although there are some units which have powerful weapons. One such enemy is a four legged, spider like robot which has a powerful beam. The damage doesn't necessarily come from the initial impact, but more the fact that this can throw your transformer of choice off a cliff or other environmental hazard.
At the end of each mission you will encounter a boss character who should be instantly recognizable to fans of the franchise. The boss fights can seem tough at first, primarily due to the fact the bosses will use their transforming ability to a major advantage such as turning into a helicopter with mounted missiles and machine guns. There are guides and cheats available if you do become really stuck though.
As you complete your task of rescuing the Minicons they will join you in battle and also offer upgrades for your transformer such as a shield or a rocket launcher. This is where one of the games problem surfaces. Whilst you can change your choice of transformer at any time in the game, the upgrades are character specific so in reality its basically impossible to use Optimus Prime for half the game, and then change to Hot Shot as he won't have the upgrades required to take on the higher level enemies. The game can also become repetitive, although this can be a harsh comment because most transformers fans won't notice this aspect and rather appreciate the authenticity of the title.
As you progress through the game it is possible to come across disc pickups. These discs unlock some of the extra features of the game including pictures of transformers memorabilia such as toys. These discs aren't easy to find which does add some replay value to the game. You can also replay any mission at any time after completing it by returning to the Autobot HQ and loading the level.
As mentioned before Transformers is set on earth and features some real world locations such as the Amazon and Antarctica. Some of the levels are huge which lends itself to more open ended gameplay and while the game does feature a point to point goal system, it is not as linear as it may sound.
The graphics of the game is one of the more interesting aspects because of the varied quality produced. Sometimes the game can be a very impressive PS2 game, while other times it can look like a very impressive PSone game. Also the game does have some frame rate issues and when it starts to fall, the graphics begin to blur to combat the loss. It never reaches an unplayable state so it is not a fatal flaw but it is noticeable. The CG featured in the game is nothing short of stunning, and it is no surprise given the guys behind the Soul Calibur CG produced this for Melbourne house.
The animations of the transformers however make up for the frame rate issues with a seamless transition between vehicle and robot form. You can be doing anything and transform with no graphical errors. The transformers themselves feel really bulky and move lethargically giving them a very realistic presence on the battlefield. Control of the transformers while in vehicle form is also one of the games strong points.
Voice acting is easy to understand but one area which this can be annoying is the communications between HQ and the chosen transformer, every time you skip a scene (if you've already seen it) it asks you to confirm you know what to do. Something that really hurts the game in terms of replay value is the lack of multiplayer which can lead to the game to subscribe to the 'once its done its done' theory.
With that said however, Melbourne House have still done a fantastic job and the problems the game does have are very much overshadowed by the authenticity and fantastic gameplay contained within the game. Transformers fans will be able to relate easily to this game, and even those who haven't been following or don't know about the franchise will find a very solid third person action game to play. It's just a shame no multiplayer has been included.
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