Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Having played both of the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen titles for the PS3 and X360 and now the two NDS variants, Autobots and Decepticons, I'd have to say that my preferred version is definitely the home console games, as opposed to these portable titles. It's not that the portable games are awful; there are a couple of things present in the Autobots and Decepticons DS titles that I thought were pretty interesting and were actually missing in the PS3/X360 iterations, but the action mechanics just don't seem to lend themselves that well to the limited capabilities of the NDS system.
Like its console brethren, the DS version of the game based on the "Transformers" movie sequel is action-based. You play the third-person shooter title, and there are a few driving/piloting elements tossed into the mix, but it's hardly necessary, aside from some of the optional challenges you'll get to play. For the most part, your Autobot or Decepticon is a bullet-firing beast, and you'll be stuck locking on to nameless enemies and the occasional boss and firing an endless stream of lasers, bullets and missiles to take their health down to zero. The game becomes very monotonous as a result of the straightforward action, and while a few of the boss fights opt to do some different mechanics instead of just blasting away at an enemy, there's not enough variation in the game to maintain your interest for long.
Also, for those of you wondering, the Autobot and Decepticon versions of the game are nearly identical, aside from the obvious fact that you'll be playing as one side for each game. The mission layout and overall plot are pretty much the same, except that they're told from a different point of view. The level layouts are identical, and if you're presented with a mission in the Autobot version that has you scanning or protecting a satellite uplink, you'll be destroying that same satellite in the Decepticon version. Even the placement of the objects is exactly the same, right down to something as basic as the tutorial levels in the beginning. I can't fathom why anyone would buy both versions of the game, unless you're really dying to play as Starscream instead of Optimus Prime, or vice versa. There's no real reason to get both games, and you won't be missing out on something by picking up just one of these two titles.
Autobots and Decepticons have some interesting concepts. While the PS3 and X360 versions used Energon gained to upgrade stats (which this version does as well) you can also scan special objects in each stage to collect equipment that you can use to upgrade yourself with. While you do play some missions as named Autobots or Decepticons, when you begin the game you're tasked with creating your own Transformer from a Prototype that crashes to Earth. You get three choices to choose from, which are just light, medium, and heavy variations. Obviously the lighter model is faster and less powerful, while the heavy is powerful but slower. Not quite rocket science, sure, but at least you have a few basic options there.
You'll come equipped with two basic weapons, which you can switch between using the DS' touch-screen. You'll transform into a vehicle by pressing the X button, which will be a ground-based vehicle for both versions of the game. For the upgrades, you'll come across things like nodes, weapons, armor and so on, which will be equipped with stats to add to your overall skills. The options contain some basic things, like health, marksmanship, regeneration and strength. You'll either want to build up the areas you're already strong in, or you can opt to fortify some weaknesses. You can switch out equipment anytime you're on the world map screen between missions, and since you can come across new gear pretty often, it's certainly worth toying around with.
All enemies will drop Energon, and you'll gain some for completing levels too. The Energon can be used for a few of your basic stats, which you can increase in level with batches of the Energon. This seems to be identical to what occurs in the home console versions of the game, only without the time trial and Achievement/Trophy aspects.
Each mission has a challenge stage attached to it, which you'll unlock after you finish the mission. The challenges are typically timed events, such as defeating a certain number of enemies within the limit, and some of them are pretty hard, especially when compared to the actual missions that don't provide much of a challenge. There's not enough of a variance between these and the run-and-gun missions that you'll do for the story to make them particularly noteworthy or interesting, but if you find yourself a little low on Energon, then they're worth completing.
Visually, Autobots and Decepticons aren't going to win any awards, with some ugly 3-D models that don't do the hardware justice and bland levels that are filled with nondescript buildings, streets and boring enemies. While the home versions are filled with no-name Transformer variants, most of the enemies you encounter in the DS versions are going to be stationary turrets, tanks and the occasional plane. Every so often, you'll face off against an Autobot or Decepticon, but it's a pretty rare thing to see. It's even rarer to face off against one that you actually know, and not every level seems to feature a remarkable boss fight. Even then, since the character models are so ugly, it's a little difficult to figure out what you're looking at, so maybe there's no real loss there.
I was surprised to find that the game featured a lot of fully voiced dialogue, using familiar voices cribbed from the movie and console titles. I'm not sure if everyone involved with the films was used for the game dubs, but the quality is pretty decent. Likewise, the soundtrack takes familiar riffs from the film, but I found that to be a little repetitive and annoying after a while. Equally annoying is the sound FX for weapons; the constant little "pew pew" noises forced me to switch off the sound on my DS after a while because I found them to be so utterly annoying.
Overall, I'm not sure that I'd suggest Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Autobots to anyone other than die-hard Transformer fans, even though it really doesn't do the franchise any justice. I certainly wouldn't suggest picking up both titles, since there's no real difference between the two other than the robot skins, and there's not enough fun to be had with the very basic shooting mechanics that the game employs 90 percent of the time. It's also very low on the frills and extras, which the console versions at least got right by tossing in videos of actual episodes and G1 character skins. Avoid these DS iterations and be sure to pick up one of the home console versions instead.
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