Release Date: June 23, 2009
Movie games are seldom better than their respective source material. They're often seen as interactive DVDs for the movie on which they're based and usually aren't very good. I'm not a hardcore Transformers fan, but I loved the first movie. The second movie, "Revenge of the Fallen," had its moments but didn't quite live up to its predecessor. The sole redeeming factor of the recent movie was the epic battles between giant robots, but the skirmishes were very few and far between. The video game adaptation of "Revenge of the Fallen" features nothing but robots fighting one another, and that alone makes it better than the movie.
Now, I might be spoiling some of the story, but if you haven't seen the movie in the theaters by now, you're going to wait for the DVD release anyway and will have hopefully forgotten this review by then. Besides, the story is so convoluted that it won't matter anyway. Revenge of the Fallen takes place two years after the original movie. The Autobots, a benevolent race of robots that transform into vehicles, has joined forces with the military and formed a special unit called NEST. This group seeks out remnants of the destructive race of robots called the Decepticons, who were defeated in the last movie. The Decepticons seek to revive their leader, Megatron, and to harness Energon, the lifeblood of the Transformers and a power source that is strong enough to create an entire army of Decepticons. The location of this device is hidden deep within the mind of Shia LaBeouf … err, Sam Witwicky, and it's up to the Autobots to prevent the Decepticons from achieving their goal.
As you start the game, you have the choice to play as either the Autobots or Decepticons. Each campaign revolves around the major action scenes from the movie. Generally speaking, you're doing the opposite of what the enemy faction is doing in its campaign. As the Autobots, you're trying to prevent the Decepticons from destroying the city, and as the Decepticons, you're trying to destroy the Autobots so that you can continue destroying the city. Each campaign has 27 missions that take place in Shanghai, the naval base that guards Megatron's body, the East and West Coasts, and the pyramids of Egypt.
Before each mission, you'll choose the Autobot or Decepticon as whom you wish to play. Some missions are character-specific, while others give you a choice of a few characters, and a few missions are locked until you complete certain requirements. Each character has its share of strengths and weaknesses, but more often than not, you'll play as your favorite character when it's available. With me, I always had to go with the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime!
The missions vary from destroying all enemy units, escorting someone, to repairing a number of devices. Every mission is timed, and the faster you complete the mission, the better of a medal you'll be awarded. The medals provide campaign point values that are needed to unlock more missions in the game. Platinum medals are worth five points, gold are worth four, silver are worth three, bronze are worth two, and finishing the mission beyond the qualifying time will simply net you one point. I found that the qualifying times for a platinum medal are just about impossible unless you've already played through the mission and you happen to do everything flawlessly. Unfortunately, the missions tend to drag on way too long. After defeating two or three waves of enemies, I feel as if I'm done, but then the game decides to throw in a few more, and it becomes repetitive.
One of the biggest factors in Revenge of the Fallen is how it controls. The mandatory tutorial teaches you the controls, but it's so mind-numbingly dull that you'll probably forget what you've learned because you're so eager to start blowing stuff up. The controls feel a bit clunky at first, but once you get the hang of them, they work fine. All robots appear in their default robot form, but holding down the R2 transforms them into their vehicle form. This also forces them to automatically accelerate, so you have to be prepared to haul ass if use that form. Letting go of R2 returns you to the robot form. Essentially, the vehicle is either meant for traveling great distances or as a defensive measure to briefly leave combat to allow your health to regenerate. While in vehicle form, you can fire your guns with the Square button, but it's a little awkward to control because you're constantly moving too.
You'll mostly be in your default form; you use your weapons by holding down the L2 button and fire with R2, like a traditional shooter. The R1 button switches between your primary and secondary weapons. Primary weapons are typically small machine guns or peashooters, while the secondary weapons are rockets and charged shots. You don't have to worry about ammunition, but extended use of a weapon will cause it to overheat, and you'll have to wait a while before it cools down. Whenever that happens, you'll switch to your other weapon until it overheats, then switch back, and so forth until you get the hang of that rhythm. Additionally, each character has a unique special move that may or may not be combat-oriented. For example, Bumblebee can emit an EMP pulse that stuns nearby enemies, while Ratchet can heal nearby allies who are being escorted.
You also have melee attacks for close encounters. These attacks aren't quite as powerful as the guns, but they can help in a pinch. There are more powerful melee attacks that can be performed by holding down the Square button as you let go of R2 when transitioning from your vehicle form to your robot form. My favorite thing to do with this gameplay mechanic is to hold down the X button as I switch back so that I can perform a super jump. This grants much more distance than a normal jump because of the momentum, and it's just more fun hopping across levels than driving across them.
As you defeat enemies, you'll take their Energon and add it to your total reserve. Depending on the objectives you complete and how fast you finish the mission, you'll gain even more Energon. Between missions, you can spend your Energon to improve various attributes such, as your maximum health, melee attack power, vehicle weapon power, the amount of time it takes for your weapons to overheat and to cool down, and a few others. These upgrades apply to all members of your team and not just individual characters.
Playing through both campaigns will take about 12 hours or so, but I'd say that 12 hours of robots fighting each other is better than the movie's two hours of teen drama and 30 minutes of robot fights. There is an online multiplayer mode that features typical shooter game types: deathmatch, team deathmatch, control points and a capture the flag game called Battle for the Shards. The combat in the game translates very smoothly into the multiplayer mode.
Graphically, Revenge of the Fallen isn't terribly impressive, nor is it bad. The CGI doesn't look as good as the movie, and the character models for the humans aren't that great. The environments for the game's five areas are vast and almost feel too big at times. The different sections of each area look very similar, almost as if the developers copied and pasted the same level three times and placed you at a different starting location for each mission. I encountered a glitch when I passed by a building while dodging enemy fire, and I somehow managed to get stuck inside the building and couldn't move. In this spot, the whole level disappeared and all that I could see was the sky — which also appeared on the ground. Since I couldn't move out of this spot, I failed to protect the building in the mission. I like to think that I stumbled across the "robot heaven" scene from the movie.
On the audio side of things, the music sounds like it was taken from the film. You get the sense of an epic battle unfolding as you face off against your adversaries. (Thankfully, there isn't a Linkin Park tune on the soundtrack.) Many of the actors from the movie reprise their roles in the video game adaptation, including LaBeouf (Sam), Megan Fox (Mikaela) and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime). One odd substitution was John DiMaggio covering for Josh Duhamel as Major Lennox, but it's not a big deal. The voices tend to repeat the same lines over and over again, which gets annoying.
Overall, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a mindless and fun third-person action game that should suit the needs of Transformers fans. If you only care about robot action sequences, the game is much better than the movie. Admittedly, the game gets repetitive with its small selection of mission types, but it's still a decent title.Score: 7.0/10
More articles about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen