IGN Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hits theaters nationwide today, and it's no surprise that the film has gotten a videogame adaptation. Or, should I say multiple videogame adaptations, as the Wii and PS2 versions of the game are nothing like their PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC counterparts.
Now let me start off by saying that I haven't seen the film yet, though a number of folks in the office have, and after going over what happens in the game with them, it seems that this version of Revenge of the Fallen only very roughly follows the story of the movie. There are still the same "boss" Transformers that show up (like Devastator) and the story reaches roughly the same climax, though the in-between stuff seems like it's very much different. So, if you're looking for something that gives you the movie experience point-for-point on your console of choice, this won't do it for you. On a positive note, Shia Labeouf isn't in the game at all, save a couple sentences that he says at the end of the game (though you don't even see him), so there's that.
The game is a third-person action title where you work straight through its story and switch between playing as Autobots and Decepticons as the story dictates. In other words, there's no exploring to do (aside from looking around a corner for a hidden pickup) and you can't choose which side you want to play as, like in the PS3 and Xbox 360 games. While this straight-forward style should theoretically make room for some big action sequences and perhaps a tighter experience, that's not really the case at all.
A big part of this is that it's incredibly repetitive. What basically happens is that you walk into an area, have to kill a handful of dudes to unlock a closed door, and then move on. While this is true in a number of games (even some very good ones), you don't see very much variety in the enemies, and the combat is so awkward and, at times, frustrating that you will very quickly get sick of fighting anything.
For the Wii version of the game, you move with the analog stick on the Nunchuck and use the Wii Remote to aim a reticule on the screen at what you want to shoot at. The camera is static, so you don't have to worry about manipulating it (for better or worse).
Why am I mentioning the Wii controls in a PS2 review? Because the PS2 version was a direct port of the Wii game and the separated movement and reticule controls remain intact. Yep, instead of having your crosshairs stay in the middle of the screen and giving you full camera control, you instead move with the left analog stick and move the reticule around with the right. At the start, this seems incredibly awkward, and it can be, but fortunately the reticule automatically locks onto enemies for you, which makes the setup at least somewhat bearable.
The problem though is that you're supposed to be able to tap the right analog stick in a direction to change targets, but this is temperamental at best. The game will often ignore what you want to do, and instead does something different. If there are two enemies near the top of the screen and one in the middle, if you are locked onto one of the top-most enemies and press down on the analog stick, it should choose the enemy closer to you. Instead, it'll often just switch between these two upper enemies, leaving the guy nearest you to start meleeing your robotic body. Not fun.
The controls aren't nearly the end of the game's problems, however. You'll get through the first 75% of the content in about two hours, but then the game pulls a Halo and copies-and-pastes corridor after corridor after corridor to extend the playtime. There's a section where you play as Bumblebee and run through the same three or four rooms over and over again until your brain begins melting. And then when you finally finish it, you take over as Megatron and go through these same sections for a while longer.
And then, during one of the final sections of the game, the setup of having to kill a handful of enemies to open a door becomes having to kill 20+ enemies to open a door, repeated a good dozen or so times. I must have spent at least 30 minutes straight fighting through a path that would have taken about 30 seconds to walk if there weren't enemies around. Absolutely annoying.
Once you finally get to the end, the bulk of the last boss' fight is simple standing there, waiting for him to stomp the ground and send out a shockwave, jumping over it and hitting him once or twice. Over and over and over again. You can't hit him more than twice as he'll then hit you, but you cause so little damage that this takes forever. Were the fight actually exciting or maybe even challenging then its length would be fine, but it's so mundane that you're just doing this stupid tactic over and over until you either pass out from boredom or finally kill him.
Did I mention that death doesn't matter? When you die, you simply respawn at the nearest checkpoint, which is probably at most 100 feet from where you were, and everyone that you had already killed stays dead. So it's really only a matter of time before you pass a section. The only exceptions to this are the boss fights, all of which can be annoying and frustrating for various reasons.
The problems continue. You can't transform at will, but rather only when the game needs you to. Some Transformers' melee moves are so slow that if an enemy is close enough to use it on, they'll perform a quick swing and throw you off before you can land it. You can unlock three episodes of the original Transformers cartoon (parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Ultimate Doom trilogy), but the screen where you choose to play these videos has neither a representative image nor title for any of them. Before you play them, you have no idea what you're about to watch as there's just a picture of a play button.
I don't think I need to go on.
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