Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Written by Nathan Murray on 7/30/2009 for 360  
More On: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
This may surprise you, given that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is rated T for teen, that this is a video game geared toward a younger audience. Now I’m not saying you should go out and buy a copy for a 6 year old (they’re probably busy playing Halo 3 anyway) but for a young man or woman in their early teens this might be a game they could get into. Both the game and the movie are a reboot so this isn’t a game for nostalgic 20 or 30 somethings as much as it's  another cog in Hasbro's massive toy marketing machine. It is because of nostalgia there can never be a video game that trumps everyone's memories of their imaginary adventures with their Transformers toys but Transformers Revenge of the Fallen tries pretty damn hard.

The story of the game is shackled to the script of the movie and while the game kicks, screams, and fights to throw in some variety, in the end it is one long, slow drag to a unsatisfying climax. The Autobots and the Decepticons are still at war (who would have guessed?) and they're chasing each other around the globe, trying to gain an upper hand in their never-ending feud. The campaign mode can be played from the perspective of both sides, which leads to some interesting revelations as the plot unfolds later on as the reason for the Decepticon's attacks are made apparent. If you choose to play as an Autobot your goal is to stop the Decpticons from reaching their goal, whatever it may be, and bring peace to earth. The same events are experienced from the perspective of both sides, so the effects of a victory for Autobots will be seen when playing as the Decpticons. Missions where you're having to save a fallen comrade to the Decepticons have very little context until you play as the Decepticon that decimated that Autobot. The mission types are only loosely tied to the plot of the movie throughout most of the game, but while it is fun to see how everything comes together if you’ve already seen the movie don’t expect too many revelations with what went on behind the scenes.

The structure of the campaign missions will only appeal to a limited audience. Remember those pre-teens I mentioned? They'll really get into the completion-oriented style of play that will have them glued to the screen for hour, playing the same missions over and over for the best times and scores. Unlimited lives means there is minimal difficulty, unlimited time means there is almost no difficulty, and there is a free-roam option for some maps that eliminates any difficulty, effectively making those stages giant robot simulators. The game doesn’t encourage that style of play; medals are given out for fast completion times after missions, which earn campaign points, which allow the player to progress through the campaign. Faster times, bonus objectives, and a set of collectibles all encourage replays to achieve the highest score. It isn’t necessary to complete missions flawlessly to progress, there are side missions that aren’t directly related to the story which offer another way to progress, if the player happens to be less skilled than most. Anyone who played the Star Wars Rogue Squadron games will be very familiar with this structure (sans side missions).

Gameplay isn’t just limited to the timers and high scores. You want to know how it feels to blow stuff up, right? There are older games like the MechWarrior series or the Armored Core games that give you more bang for your buck, but the personality of the characters and the relatively simple controls make the Transformers experience enjoyable. The standby mode is giant robot which seems like an odd choice but it makes sense because that is the state that is optimal for combat; melee attacks, two weapon modes, and a special ability unique to each Transformer. The transformed vehicle mode has you navigating the streets or the air as a car, tank, truck, jet, or helicopter with their own weapons, special attacks, and a super jump that can be activated when transforming into giant robot mode. Think of it as a mix between a third person shooter, free-roaming super hero game (Spider-man, Incredible Hulk), and Twisted Metal's vehicle combat. The number of options make eliminating enemies fun at first, but in the end I always try to keep a distance utilizing the weapons as it was the safest and most effective way of dispatching enemies. I just wish that they developers had embraced more of a Rampage mindset rather than a super hero mindset. Transformers Revenge of the Fallen would have been more fun to play if players could blow up everything they see.

The voice acting is terrific, and the script manages to capture the feel of the original cartoons but is still a pale shadow of the cornball jokes and cheesy dialog that made the generation one cartoons entertaining. Mission briefings give the Autobots and Decpticons the chance to show off their personalities. The analysis during the post-mission briefings of goals you meet and your overall time might have seemed like a good idea when the developers thought of it, and they can be entertaining, however most of the time I felt like I was being berated for not playing well enough. It isn’t very difficult to get through missions; it is incredibly difficult to complete them 100%, so expect to have one flaw or another pointed out to you after you’ve completed one. The generic weapon sounds and explosions are tame as kittens mixed in with the generic rock music that is, oddly enough, a good fit for the Transformers series. One of theglaring flaws in this game is the graphics. Don’t be fooled by the box art or the trailers. The Xbox 360 version of Revenge of the Fallen looks the same as if it were the PlayStation 2 or Wii version, and even on my 40” HDTV none of the character models or environments looked particularly appealing. Cars, buildings, people, and objects in the environment are all the right shape and roughly the right proportion, but there isn't enough detail for anything to be distinctive. It's not as bad as everything resembling building blocks, but I wish the designers had used more than a handful of different models for the environmental objects and invested a little more polish on the skins for  the transformers themselves. The graphics don't hinder the game to the point of unplayability,  but I would like to see a Transformers video game that didn’t have me checking the box for the word Lego.

If you're big into achievements this is definitely a game worth picking up. I just took a quick jaunt through both campaigns and some multiplayer and was able to rack up a serious amount of gamer points, and with a full week of playing (3-4 hours a day) someone could easily get most of the 1000 points. I have mixed feelings about the online multiplayer; it isn’t too friendly to newbies. Being competitive in the multiplayer is a lot like playing fighting games online where you have to know the character you're playing very well in order to avoid utter decimation every single time you play. The ability for people to drop out at any time means that even if you're willing to take the loss and keep fighting, your allies in team combat can drop at any time, and you might find yourself fighting the good fight alone. I found this problem happen often enough that I completed gave up playing any multiplayer matches. One will stand, alone, while other team will shred them a new one.

No cursing or sexually explicit material make the cartoon-like violence of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a good title for the teen and pre-teen audiences. If you didn’t have any problem taking your son or daughter to see the movie, you probably won’t have a problem with them playing this game, and when they unlock the old-school Transformer cartoons tucked away on the game disc you can sit and enjoy them with your child. Older gamers might pick this up for the nostalgia, but really if you’re a fan you’re better off buying a DVD or VHS tape of the old cartoons, or going to your local thrift store or second-hand shop to hunt for some of the old action figures. The gameplay is fun, but not a challenge, and the only thing that keeps it from falling flat on its face are all the unlockables it has. The game soundtrack is uninspiring and the graphics are not impressive. In the end, this is what you might expect a movie tie-in game to be; not great but not terrible. Setting a new bar for gameplay, graphics, or storytelling wasn't the goal for the designers, but to satisfy the wishes of the franchise holder. I would love to play a Transformers built from the ground up with love and care and plenty of time for the vision required for an awesome game bear fruit. The curse of movie tie-in gameshas its own revenge on Transformers Revenge of the Fallen.
Transformers Revenge of the fallen is a game that harkens back to old school games that were all about speed runs and getting high scores. This is a great game for the target audience, young teens, but will leave older fans of the Transformers disappointed.

Rating: 8 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I'm 23 year old college student who is so into gaming he likes to write about it. Ever the conscientious gamer I only buy games based on personal experience, reviews, and price. I know how important sites like Gaming Nexus are when trying to reach an informed decision. I was burned at an early age when I purchased Superman 64 the day it came out. Since then I've collected a growing stack of magazines and URLs and am now happy to give back to the media that has saved me from such awful titles like Aquaman and Turok: Evolution. Look for my wit (or lack there of) to grace your web browser in the form of news posts, reviews, and other interesting articles. I enjoy music rhythm games (guitar hero, rock band), FPS, RPG, racing games, Fighting , RTS, and just about any other genre or genre defying game. However sports titles do tend to bore me. Unless you count Skate. Skate is amazing.

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