Release Date: June 23, 2009
While 2007's "Transformers" movie received a mixed reaction, the game accompanying the film was universally panned. Clumsy controls, boring missions and a general sense of mediocrity plagued all facets of the game, and it fell into the category of "crappy movie games." Therefore it is understandable if you approach Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with hesitation and trepidation, but if you put your preconceived notions aside, you might just be pleased with what you find.
The game follows the story line of the movie pretty closely, and in our time with the title, we got play through levels with fan favorites like Ironhide, StarScream and, of course, Optimus Prime. All of the major players from the movie will make an appearance in the game, so it's a pretty safe bet that all your favorites are here.
Since player levels are pretty straightforward action affairs, with players moving from one objective to the next while destroying any opposition that may get in your path. Both factions have their own separate campaign, and the levels we played seemed to reflect their natural tendencies quite accurately. For instance, in the Autobot stage, players take control of Ratchet and are tasked with tracking down a wounded Ironhide and escorting him to safety. Since Ratchet has the ability to heal any allies within range, most of the mission boils down to fighting through hordes of enemies and then patching up yourself and your giant metal buddy during the respites.
Conversely, the Decepticon missions are all about destruction and mayhem, and our test level with Long Haul showcased it quite well. The bad guys are capturing engineers, and Long Haul figures the best way to flush out the eggheads is to destroy the buildings they're working in. After dishing out enough damage and crumbling their labs, the evildoer can simply snatch up each of the helpless scientists and drag them off to the capture points, dooming them forever.
We also got to check out a couple of boss fights against some pretty gargantuan foes, but spoiling what you're in for in these bouts would ruin all the fun. Ultimately, the single-player experience feels competent yet not particularly outstanding, as none of the missions we saw really made much of a lasting impression.
What some players might discover is that the single-player portion of Revenge of the Fallen is merely a distraction when you need some time away from the promising multiplayer mode. Finally, players can pick a side and go online to battle it out in matches that support up to 16 giant transforming robots. All of the main storyline characters are playable (Breakaway, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Optimus Prime and Ratchet for the Autobots; Grinder, Long Haul, Megatron, Sideways and StarScream for the Decepticons), as well as the Aerialbot, Protectobot and Seeker, conglomerations of some of the sub-factions present in the Transformers universe. Each of the characters has been extensively tested for balancing, so you don't have to worry about a team of Megatrons teaming up to pound on you round after round.
If that's not enough, the team at Luxoflux is already hard at work on more characters, so if you still can't find someone you enjoy playing as, just be patient. We don't yet know how many characters there are going to be or when they'll be announced, but the developers we talked to seemed genuinely excited about getting the new meat (or new circuits, as it may be) into players' hands as quickly as possible.
Multiplayer will feature five different modes (Capture the Allspark, Control Points, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and One Shall Stand) spread across five maps. We asked if more maps would be coming as DLC and were told that they "weren't announcing anything yet," which we believe is the official unofficial way of saying yes. The maps we played were perfectly acceptable, with plenty of buildings of various heights for cover and sniping, as well as lots of stuff to destroy.
The single-player portion may feel a little flat, but there seems to be plenty of mileage in the title's multiplayer modes, and Transformers fans are likely to find plenty to love about blasting their buddies repeatedly. Even better, the transformation from vehicle to robot and back is much more fully integrated this time around, so it's easy to zoom in as a car, truck or jet, transform and blast away and then morph back into a vehicle and speed off, all without every losing a step of momentum. While we all may have originally written off Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it may just be one of the surprises of the summer.
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