IGN Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Historically-speaking, licensed movie to videogame translations haven't fared well. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is no different.
Following the rough storyline of the Michael Bay sequel, the game is a third-person shooter where you can play as either the Autobots or Decepticons as you work to find out what The Fallen is and deal with it according to your alignment. While that setup, and the fact that it's based on both a great '80s license and a Michael Bay film (which means there's going to be a ton of action), meant that there was a good bit of potential, it falls flat on pretty much every level. The Fallen indeed.
Let's start with the gameplay. As I mentioned, Revenge of the Fallen is a third-person action game where you can transform between your vehicle and robot forms. Your first sign that something is a little screwy comes when you're taught the controls. Instead of tapping a button to toggle between your two forms, you have to hold the right trigger, which also happens to be the same button that you fire with, and what you use to accelerate.
Once you transform into your vehicle mode, you have to keep holding down the right trigger. In order to let up off the accelerator, you need to let up off the trigger a bit. This is fine except that you can't not accelerate while in your vehicle form. Also, your firing button changes to a face button, which while in robot form is instead used for melee attacks.
There are a number of moves you can do while shape-changing. If you hold the right trigger to transform, and then hold the jump button, and then release the transformation button, you'll jump as you transform. If you hold the melee attack button instead, you'll do a ground stomp. Why couldn't you just press and hold the attack button while in the air to do this? As it is, you can't do these things unless you're coming out of a transformation. I suppose this sort of thing doesn't break the game, but in the scheme of things, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
While you can perform melee attacks, they're essentially worthless because as soon as you start wailing on something, it'll transform and drive away, which means you'll be lucky if you get two weak hits in before you have to revert back to your weapons anyway.
Speaking of the AI, it'll do some pretty stupid things. If there's a large building nearby, it may choose to climb up the side of it. This is fine except that it can't attack or defend while climbing, so you can just take cheap shots at its back while it scales the building, regardless of how long it takes to get to the top. The AI never, in the entire time with the game, dislodged from a building in order to protect itself. It would just keep climbing, and often either be dead or extremely wounded by the time it would get to the top.
The AI also has a tendency to just stand still on top of a building while it's trying to fight you from a distance. You can just stand there and easily fire at its head or jump up and down while firing homing missiles to take it down. Fun.
Now, all of this isn't to mean that the game is entirely full of problems in terms of combat. It can, at times, be fun to roll into an opening and have to deal with an assortment of enemy troops coming your way, and as each of the Transformers has different weapons and abilities, the way that you use them from mission-to-mission does change a little bit.
However, what fun there was that could be had with relation to these things is lost as the missions themselves can get pretty repetitive. Most of them just has you enter an area and kill everyone. Perhaps at some point you'll have to pick up a character and take them to a drop-off spot or defend a building they're in, but the bulk of the game boils down to little more than killing everything on your RADAR. Folks who just want to blow stuff up may find this to be acceptable to a small degree, but in this day and age, there should be more to the whole thing.
And that brings me to the game's biggest problem, which is the presentation. Or should I say, complete and utter lack thereof. Outside of the intro movie and some very poor and unhelpful blueprint-esque mission flyovers, you'll never really see any cutscenes that show you what's going on or give any weight to the situations (as they were) at hand. After each mission, you just go back to your side's hangout and someone will explain what's going on. With the, ahem, robotic animations of the Transformers, there's hardly any support to the rather lame dialog to help tell you what's going on.
There's not even a significant ending movie. You finish the last mission, someone describes what's happening while standing around, you see one of those stupid 3D blueprint fly-bys and then it's over. Given that this game carries the Transformers license, it'll probably sell more than a few copies, so was it too much to ask for some decent cinematics? Again, whatever influence Michael Bay could have ever had on this game was completely lost. Even if we just got scenes from the movie that would be something. But nope, we just get to see the Transformers stand around, wave their arms while they talk and that's it.
I ran into a handful of bugs while working my way through the game. In one escort mission, I was supposed to help a convoy of three cargo trucks get to where they were going. Near the end of the level I realized that only one truck was with me. A second was way, way behind, and the third was only about half-way through the level and was just sitting there, not trying to drive around or anything. I just left it there, ran ahead and it magically caught up at some point.
In another mission playing as the Autobots, I was supposed to kill a few waves of Decepticons, go talk to Sam and then fight a boss. After failing the mission once (this was one of only two missions that I died on the entire game), I chose to replay it. After beating the first wave of Decepticons, the next location I was supposed to go to never popped up on the screen. I ran around the level for five minutes while trying to trigger the next set before finally giving up and restarting again.
Thirdly, I was in the middle of a multiplayer session at one point and the game froze on me, forcing me to turn off the system.
Now, speaking of multiplayer, this is easily the most redeeming thing about the game. It's not amazing, but it's much more fun to fight actual people than the computer and the handful of included modes are all generally pretty fun. You'll get straight-up Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch options, along with a variant of Capture the Flag where you need to capture all five pieces of the All-Spark. There's a mode called One Shall Stand where your goal is to take out the other team's leader, and a Control Points mode that's something along the lines of what you'll find in Unreal Tournament.
Again, while it's not amazing, the multiplayer actually has some redeeming qualities to it, especially when you and your teammates work together to take down the other side's leader and makes use of each of their special abilities correctly.
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