Developer: Traveller's Tales
Release Date: June 26, 2007
Cars and robots: they're the perfect formula for the popular '80s cartoon, "Transformers," and honestly, what more do you need? Kids loved the idea of everyday vehicles converting into giant powerful robots. Recently, that formula was brought to the big screen with Michael Bay's interpretation of the franchise, and gamers can now get in on the robot action with Transformers: The Game for the Wii.
In the "Transformers" movie, an artifact called the All-Spark has landed on Earth with the power to destroy all of human civilization. The Decepticons want this relic to make Earth into an all-robot world, so the Autobots must find it in order to protect humankind.
First of all, you must pick whether you want to play as the Autobots or the Decepticons. Throughout the Autobots adventure, you play as Bumblebee, Jazz, Ironhide and Optimus Prime as they attempt to protect the All-Spark, while in the Decepticons adventure, you control Blackout, Scorponok, Barricade, Starscream and Megatron, who need to defeat the Autobots and find the All-Spark for their evil, world-dominating plan.
The game is set up mission-style, similar to the Spider-Man titles. You find the beacon in the city, go to it, and complete a mission; later, rinse and repeat. Many of your missions involve fighting generic robots from the opposing side, with rival robots joining in on the battles on certain stages.
All of the robots have a weapon with primary and secondary fire, while moving the Wiimote from side to side performs a melee attack. Unfortunately, the horrible controls cripple an otherwise promising premise. To move the camera, you have to aim the Wiimote at the screen and treat it like a first-person shooter, but this doesn't jive well when you're shaking the controller to attack. You'll suddenly find your character looking at the ground because you were too overzealous in shaking the controller.
Of course, one would like to believe that transforming into each respective vehicle would the coolest aspect of Transformers. Not so much. After pressing up on the control pad, you'll find that managing this converted robot they call a car is much more difficult than it should be. Pressing the Z button to accelerate is easy enough, and it's even fun when you press down on the control pad for nitro. You can still use your primary and secondary firing weapons, which is pretty cool, but try making that sharp turn. You'll find that if you're one of the semis like Optimus Prime, it is extremely hard to make anything but wide turns, and if you're controlling a sports car like Bumblebee, make a slight movement and you're jerking quickly in that direction. It takes a lot of careful movement to steer these vehicles, and even then, the controls are so faulted that I'd rather take the time to walk than transform into a car.
While you're driving or walking, you'll find that almost nothing stands in your way. Walk down the sidewalk, and all trees and lampposts fall before you. If you see a barricade of police cars, just barrel right though them, and they'll go flying. When you play as the Decepticons, destruction like this is encouraged: demolish buildings, annihilate police cars, and generally obliterate anything in your path.
In addition to this, many of the objects found in the levels can be used as weapons: Find a strong tree, and there's your new mace. Most of these items will be used for throwing at enemies, so feel free to pick up poles, signs, cars, and more to work your way to victory. However, this can become frustrating when you want pick up something, and you have to position yourself directly in front of the object before you can even interact with it.
The enemies found in Transformers can range from easy to average. Some of the general minions can be easily wiped out by aimlessly waving your remote around, while others need to be stunned by throwing objects at them. However, it's when you get to the 'bots from the movie that you may have to do a little more than aimless waving — but not much more. With many life-force sparks around the levels to refill your health, boss battles can be a breeze.
During cut scenes in Transformers, the visuals are actually pretty impressive. Before each mission, there's usually a very short clip setting up the scene, and the animation is done in a cartoony way. The characters are bouncy and have lots of different expressive actions — unlike the serious tone of the movie — which I think adds a unique feel to the game's style. However, the in-game action really isn't better than average. The robots and vehicles look all right, but it's about the quality you'd expect to see in any other licensed movie game.
Fortunately, the developers were able to incorporate sound bites from some of the movie's actors. Peter Cullen graces us with his deep, robotic voice for Optimus Prime, while Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox return as Sam Witwicky and Mikaela, respectively. This definitely adds continuity for people who saw the movie, and it makes the game more enjoyable.
The replay value is ramped somewhat by the challenge markers set up throughout the levels, which include races or massive battles. You can also unlock concept art, movie trailers, and new costumes by finding Transformers icons throughout the levels or by completing a Skill Tracker Chain. If you're a Deception, you could do this by causing destruction continuously and filling up the icons at the top of the screen. Once all of the icons are full, you unlock something. The problem, though, is whether you'll physically be able to overcome the horrendous controls to unlock all of these extras.
It's sad to say that the popular Transformers franchise couldn't have been better represented in a video game. Transformers: The Game for the Wii featured fine graphics, and the mission objectives weren't that bad, but the controls really killed the entire experience. Combat with the robot was constantly disorienting because the camera unnecessarily moved around too much, and steering any vehicle was simply too difficult. It felt like Transformers had a lot of potential, but ultimately fell flat.
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