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Review

Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Not a Pink Floyd album.

Ultimately the most important thing that any consumer wants to take away from a review is: is it worth buying? In the case of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the answer is clear. No.

It’s not that Transformers is terrible exactly. It’s far from the greatest of titles but it’s not soul crushingly awful either. However, when you look at all the other options out there and the fact that free time is almost always going to be limited for many, there’s just so many better ways of spending your time and money.


Clunky controls are annoying
It would, however, be unfair to say that Transformers: Dark of the Moon doesn’t try. By offering a different Transformer to control in each level it keeps things feeling relatively fresh on the surface. Dive a little deeper though and players are doing practically the same thing every time; running from objective marker to objective marker while shooting anything that moves.

Perhaps the oddest aspect of the title is its attempt to be a cover shooter without any sign of cover mechanics. Instead, players find themselves standing behind a large pillar pretending they’re taking cover without actually having their back against the wall. There is always the promise of a different Transformer though which does help to get past the issues a bit, particularly with each Transformer having their own forms of attacks and special abilities, as well as a different vehicle form ranging from a car or a truck to a plane.

The various guns the game employs feel fairly meaty and appropriate for different situations. Often, players will find themselves with a rifle type weapon and a machine gun, thus covering long and short range combat just fine. Abilities are an interesting bag too. Whilst Bumblebee promises strong melee attacks in the early stages, later stages with Starscream promise rocket launchers and playing Soundwave offers a potent stun ability.

The problems, however, lie in the implementation. It’s all a tad unbalanced. Each of these characters can switch to vehicle form which in turn opens up the possibility of the Stealth Force mode. This mode offers more manoeuvrability and the ability to lock onto enemies. Basically this means that players can strafe at speed whilst never losing sight of their foe, which makes for some tremendously overpowered gameplay. The only practical reason why players would switch to robot form is to use melee attacks which benefit from a significant multiplier bonus. This score bonus then aids players in their quest for precious score related achievements and trophies.


Flying isn't as fun as it looks
It’s quite fun running/driving around shooting at enemies but it’s disjointed. Sluggish movement, even by the standards of giant robots, hampers the fun that can be had. Driving controls that rely on the right stick to steer prove increasingly frustrating. Stuttering loading screens that I feared I would never come out of also proved annoying.

Then there is the mix of levels. Rather than sticking solely to pseudo cover shooting, Dark of the Moon tries to break this up with stealth missions and drawn out boss based levels. The stealth missions are quite terribly implemented as Dark of the Moon just hasn’t been designed with sneaking in mind.

Other stages, such as the flying Laserbeak based level, ensure the risk of repetition is minimal but it feels undercooked like the rest of the game. Special note must go to a chase sequence at the end of Chapter IV however Рone that will invoke much swearing and leave you wondering who on earth enjoys such sequences. Instadeaths due to minor slipups are really not fun.

Ultimately though, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is just too patchy. It only takes around six hours at the absolute most to complete and switching from Autobots to Decepticons every other level is a lazy solution to offering separate campaigns for each side like in the previous, and superior, Transformers game: War for Cybertron. There is a multiplayer mode to extend longevity but I’d be wary of exactly how long it’ll have a thriving community. It just doesn’t offer anything above many other titles, with predictable modes of play on offer (deathmatch, team deathmatch and conquest style) and the now standard feeling upgradeable character class system.

Pros

  • Enjoyable to switch between different Transformers.
  • Mixture of different level types.
  • Avid fans might enjoy it more.

Cons

  • Weird control systems.
  • Too many ideas, not enough well developed ones.
  • Far too short.

Some fun can be had from Transformers: Dark of the Moon but it’s not enough. Instead it’s exactly what anyone would expect of a film tie in game. Functional but underwhelming. The smattering of effective ideas is eventually overwhelmed by mediocrity. Perhaps if the game had been in development for longer or had focused on doing one thing right rather than many, it could have been something special.

Score: 5/10

Reviewed using an Xbox 360 copy.

27 Comments
  1. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    And yet it sells well.
    People, it seems, never learn!

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:01.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      Just like films, which are sacrilege, at best and I won’t mention what they are at worst but its a shame they’ve gone down that route instead of making a film that fans would appreciate.

      Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:15.
      • 3shirts
        Member
        Since: Aug 2008

        To be fair, I think people get a bit precious about the films. Let’s not forget the original TV series was just made to sell toys.

        Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 22:10.
      • The_Iron_Man666
        Member
        Since: Jul 2011

        The movies were great! The best was DOTM 3D

        Comment posted on 22/07/2011 at 09:03.
  2. MrSpeedyGonzales
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    I heard Transformer games had improved over the last few years. It seems like this one just took them 2 steps back. Shame, I think if it was done well the transformer gaming franchise could be huge!

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:07.
    • R4U Eldave0
      andUandU
      Since: Aug 2008

      Last year’s “War for Cybertron” turned out to be a good game (albeit a little repetitive). This game unfortunately is a movie tie-in so it was destined to be shite ;)

      Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:12.
  3. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    … and after all the good work done with Transformers War For Cybertron, although that, it must be noted wasn’t hampered by being tied to a poor film.

    If anyone fancies some Transformers action and hasn’t played it, I’d highly recommend that instead.

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:11.
    • mrfodder
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      I agree. I really enjoyed that last one. When I heard High Moon were doing this one too, my expectations dived. Too short a development time and it shows.

      Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:38.
  4. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    In WFC you had limited ammo in both modes so you couldn’t stay in vehicle mode all the time, is that not the case here?

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:31.
    • Jen A
      Member
      Since: Jan 2011

      Robot form you have limited ammo but in Stealth Force mode as a vehicle, you don’t.

      Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 10:13.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        Oh well that’s silly.

        Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 12:41.
  5. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I loved War for Cybertron – it was brilliant and even enjoyed online aspect.
    Never did purchase this one as I know it would get better than Cybertron =(

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 09:35.
  6. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    isn’t the stealth mode a bit of an oxymoron?
    i mean, they’re in their vehicle modes, sure, but they have weapons sticking out all over the place.
    that doesn’t scream “stealth” to me.

    i got burned by the first two games, the sequel was better, but not by much, and i did get it in a sale so it didn’t cost me the full price.
    so i’ll be wary of spending money on this one.

    if i see it cheap enough later on, i might get it, but no rush.

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 11:09.
  7. Death_In_Flamez
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    I’m actually horrified by this review. I think it’s actually quite untrue. The controls are far from clunky in my opinion and I think the only complaint I really have is that it’s NOT War for Cybertron.

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 11:58.
    • Jen A
      Member
      Since: Jan 2011

      What do you find so horrifying about it?

      Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 12:38.
      • Death_In_Flamez
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Well it just tells me everything which I know is not true in a way :)I found the story a very good context when watching the actual Movie. I knew where everyone was coming from. War for Cybertron also didn’t have that great a community, but it still has populated servers to this day and the two most popular I know for a fact are Team Deathmatch and Conquest (Same as Battlefield or Call of Duty’s Domination), proving that even though there wasn’t any major original game modes, the most popular game modes were the bog standard.

        Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 13:14.
    • Jen A
      Member
      Since: Jan 2011

      As I only said to be wary of how long the community lasts, I think that’s a wise recommendation to make for any title that isn’t one of the big MP games.

      The rest (assuming there were other things you weren’t happy with) I suspect comes down to opinion as is always the way with these things :) (although I hate saying that as it sounds like such a cliche). However do bear in mind that 5/10 is average. It doesn’t mean awful!

      Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 13:27.
      • Death_In_Flamez
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Indeed I agree everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, I just don’t agree with you ;) I’d bump it up to 7 for good measure :P

        Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 16:33.
    • The_Iron_Man666
      Member
      Since: Jul 2011

      Hopefully they’ll make a bunch of Cybertron prequels for the TF movies…

      Comment posted on 22/07/2011 at 09:05.
  8. e8
    Member
    Since: Jul 2010

    A shame, unlike transformers for the spectrum48k, which was a blast. (at least in its time.)

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 14:35.
  9. yogdog
    Member
    Since: Feb 2010

    Nice review Jen :) Transformers barely interests me at all, but my autistic brother loves them and just goes through them faster than I play a Total War game. As long as theres actually a game, he’ll complete it as he can’t get enough. They’re his comfort games. Again, good review :)

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 14:36.
  10. DJ-Katy
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Having completed this over the weekend I pretty much agree with the review but haaving said that, it was still fun! It’s not worth full price but as a budget purchase it’s fine I think. As others have said, War for Cybertron is the better game. Dark of the Moon is not bad, it’s just shallow.

    Chapter 4 was easily the most annoying and repetitive part of Dark of The Moon and the volcano chase sequence at the end reminded me of the incredibly annoying time I had trying to chase through the mines in Enslaved with perfect precision in that game’s two exceptionally irritating chase sequences.

    Comment posted on 20/07/2011 at 14:50.

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