Transformers in VR sounds like excellent idea, placing you in the centre of the action whilst massive chonky robots stomp around you – eight year old Tuffcub would have sold his mother for such thing. Sadly in 2022 the rather older Tuffcub has found that Transformers Beyond Reality is a serviceable game rather than a must have experience.
You play as an unnamed human who, for some reason, has an exoskeleton that allows them to battle Transformers. All the art shows a Daniel-esque cyber-suit, but in the game you are firmly welded to a moving platform and cannot move in any direction – this is an on-the-rails shooter. There are three types of exo to choose, each with their own weapons and functions such as shields, swords, and mini-guns, and after a quick tutorial (which can be summed up as ‘just shoot everything’) it’s on to the game.
There are six levels, each lasting around ten to fifteen minutes with a boss battle at the end. Power ups that recharge your weapons and shields can be picked up, and there’s also an auto-fire power up that changes your main gun from a single shot into an auto rifle. It doesn’t last very long so your trigger finger is going to get a good work out from the majority of the game. There are also a few objects that can be shot as you trundle along the set path and these can also yield power ups. There’s not even the concept of a headshot, every hit on the an enemy does the same damage no matter where you shoot.
There’s a grand total of five enemy types that you’ll do battle with. Yes, five. Three are Insecticon drones, a very generic generic laser pod, and finally, on levels five and six, Seeker drones. There’s no variation, so the Insecticon attack patterns are exactly the same on level one as they are on level six, and every enemy explodes using the exact same explosion animationThe boss battles all follow the same pattern as well, no matter who is attacking you. Red targets will appear around their weak points and you get a few seconds to shoot them before they fire back, then they either transform or go and hide for a bit before popping out and repeating the exact same attack pattern.
The first couple of levels are really badly design to the point that I’m not sure the developers know how VR works. Your platform is in the middle of a very wide road which means almost everything is sweeping past on the far left or right. For VR to work best, you need objects at all distances so your brain can work out the 3D image, but with with no scenery nearby the first couple of levels play almost like a non-VR game. They spring to life when one of the big name such as Optimus or Grimlock characters sprint past your head, but even then a lot of the these sequences take place quite some distances away, ruining the impact.
The characterisation of Starscream, Megatron and pals is spot on, but here we hit another issue. Every now and then a short vignette plays out with the characters talking and fighting nearby, but instead of letting you watch the action and hear the dialogue the game continues to throw enemies at you, often on the other side of the play area so you completely miss the epic robot battles.
The first couple of levels do feel like someone has slapped some Transformers into a generic on-the-rails shooter with very little thought, but the game does get better as you near the end. As the action moves to Cybertron there is a lot more depth and detail and the VR comes to life with fleets of Seeker jets swooping past. There’s also a stomach churning drop when Starscream destroys a lift you are on, only for Windblade to zoom in and get right in your face to save you. It’s a great moment, its just a shame there’s not more of them in the game.
Along with the Story mode, which has five levels of difficulty, there’s an endless arcade mode for racking up high scores. It’s.. fine, I guess, but again there’s no enemy variation and you end up shooting hundreds of the same enemies.