Transformers: Dark of the Moon First Hands-On Preview

There's certainly more than meets the eye in our hands-on look at the new gameplay from Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

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There are few franchises as iconic and popular as the Transformers, but with great support comes great expectation. Michael Bay's movies have enjoyed success at the box office, but a similar level has yet to be achieved in video games. We were lucky enough to attend an event in London where Activision was hoping to rectify this situation by offering us a hands-on with its latest reincarnation of the series, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. We watched some exclusive gameplay and even had the opportunity to play as Bumblebee and Ironhide in two of the game's playable chapters.

The presentation started with Sean Miller, the game's director, showing off the nearly finished product. Miller began by emphasizing that DOTM's campaign will act as a prologue to the upcoming movie, so fans who want the gaps filled in between the films should benefit from playing the game before seeing the film. Miller also elaborated on the importance of centering the storyline on individual characters in the series, allowing gamers to emotionally bond with their favorite Autobots and Decepticons. Finally, he also mentioned the importance of the new stealth force combat mechanic, a new system that allows much smoother integration between robot and vehicle gameplay.

Without revealing any spoilers, the story is set three years after the events in the second film, where humans believe that the Decepticons have disappeared. However, after a quick turn of events, we found ourselves on the first level as Bumblebee, scouting a rogue Decepticon signal in a city. We were pleasantly surprised with the look of DOTM's combat, in particular the new stealth force mechanic; an ability that transforms your robot into vehicle form with weapons deployed and ready for use. The demo showed what seemed like smooth and flowing combat as Bumblebee easily locked onto enemies and blew them to smithereens. The first segment of footage concluded with Optimus Prime and Sideswipe jumping into the action and helping Bumblebee eliminate the Decepticon threat.

The next level saw Ironhide as the main protagonist--the weapons expert on the Autobot team. We were expecting Ironhide to feel different from Bumblebee but were quite disappointed that gameplay seemed almost identical. The urban Detroit environment set the scene for mass destruction, and Miller emphasized the importance of the "robots in disguise" theme, where players would not know whether the cars on the streets were Decepticons or not. This was quickly overshadowed by the bright red auto lock-on system that clearly made all your enemies visible, however.

The demo moved swiftly on to another segment of the game with Soundwave taking center stage. As a fan favorite, Soundwave will be heavily involved in the game's story. Soundwave's level was set in a jungle and his unique ability to use sound as a weapon was emphasized, although the regular bullets and the energy beams he was firing seemed to do the exact same amount of damage. A neat tag-team feature was revealed with Soundwave's new partner Laserbeak getting in on the action. This little robot vulture was used to stun enemies and open a gateway for Soundwave.

Starscream's level showed off the new flying mechanics in a heated battle in the sky. A huge C130 bomber jet Transformer called Stratosphere was also introduced, and it was up to Starscream to chase him down. The air combat added another exciting dimension to the gameplay, with fast-paced action and plenty of explosions. It appeared as if Miller's assistant had a lot of trouble landing on the giant bomber plane, taking several attempts, but finally he landed and proceeded to rip off its control panel and take the plane down.

Arguably the coolest addition to the Transformers cast was demoed next. Mirage, a ninja Autobot, gave us a little introduction to the stealth gameplay elements of DOTM. Using his cloak ability, Mirage was able to sneak past enemies in another jungle map and even perform swift melee executions if he managed to get behind the enemy. After finding and eliminating two Decepticons, Mirage entered a Decepticon crypt and the presentation ended.

We were only given two levels to play, the first of which allowed us to try out Bumblebee, who handled well. Stealth force, which is activated by pressing the left stick, transformed our robot into its vehicle form with all weapons deployed to cause massive destruction. In this form, we could strafe and auto-lock onto enemies with relative ease. By holding the left trigger, we were able to put our weapons away and transform into a normal vehicle, although the constant need to hold down the left trigger to stay in this mode was frustrating. The combat heavily depended on stealth force, as there really was no need to transform back into a robot. The other playable section featured Ironhide causing havoc in Detroit. It was another straightforward shooting level and aside from the environmental change, there was little difference between the two Transformers.

Activision's product specialist Noah Kircher-Allen promises that DOTM will offer a, "consistent fan service to both hardcore and contemporary Transformer fans throughout the game." With new multiplayer details being revealed in the upcoming weeks, stay tuned for more news and previews about Transformers: Dark of the Moon on GameSpot.

Discussion

95 comments
JSusie
JSusie

Yeah I was pleasantly surprised by War for Cybertron. It was much, much better than I was expecting. The only thing I really didnt like was the "stand behind cover and stick your arm out and blast stuff" method that made much of the singleplayer content extremely easy. I dont really have high hopes for this game, but hey maybe they'll surprise me again.

mykeday
mykeday

I really want to like this game, but games off of movies never great cause they don't get the same level of testing. I liked WFC, but the only critisim was not really needing to transform, and this sounds similar with the whole stealth force thing. That being as a car i can still move as easily as a robot. I liked in ROTF how you could pull off attacks from car to vehicle, making the need to transform very apparent. I'll be buying this as a huge Transformers fan, but i know i'm gonna feel let down.

Rodimus_Prime
Rodimus_Prime

@system_xn, This game is being developed by High Moon Studios. I'm not sure why you think otherwise. Now to those who aren't sure if this will be good. The multi for ROTF was lots of fun until the character dlc came out with a couple of game breaking characters. I'm sure this game will be even better since High Moon is at the helm.

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

I have my doubts on if this game will be any good, it might be, but the majority of games made from the back of a movie more often than not tend to be disappointing, to put it kindly. The few that aren't have been good, but they're few and far between compared to the terrible ones. I would have preferred a character creation feature, where you make your character and play as that character throughout the game, improving their stats and more, while the known characters are NPC's who guide, assist and so on through the game. Much like the DS versions tried.

system_xn
system_xn

@ DrJoeystein I agree about War for Cybertron. Unfortunately this is not being developed by High Moon Studios.

dwd_27
dwd_27

I like online on transformers 2

Dragonsingh3000
Dragonsingh3000

@MrJoltz, your 100% right. the game was hard but bloody good. no stupid human characters to get in your way. the game was ace

Excetera-ZEN
Excetera-ZEN

Strange, I thought this game would be using the same game engine as the one in Transformers: War for Cybertron? If it did, perhaps it wouldn't half bad. I'll say this much though, I can't stand Micheal Bay or his movies. The first TF was reasonably good, the second was trash, let's hope he redeems himself in the 3rd.

MrJoltz
MrJoltz

I still believe the best Transformers game that came out is Transformers (For the PS2 only)

KoganStyle
KoganStyle

God this sounds awful already! Disguised robots driving round the city, who automatically show up on your radar.... fail.

cyberjedi21
cyberjedi21

Go Cybertronians! One more shot for the game.

Jtm371
Jtm371

@Nergil War for Cybertron wasn't at all based on any movie, so it was easier for it to be good, but with games like this, they don't put as much time and effort into them as non movie based games. Its a real shame too, because games like this have the potential to be really fun, but from the sound of it from the preview, it probably won't be.

lazerbeak0000
lazerbeak0000

Rotf was absoulutley fantastic online.WFC was not as good but still,escalation was addicting.As long as DOTM has esalation,i will buy it.

TheHalomaster5
TheHalomaster5

one general rule of buying movie video games: Don't buy them in the first place.

Nergil
Nergil

I rented War for Cybertron and it was much better than I expected...I hope this one is at least that good...didn't care about it after I beat the campaign once though.

Refeer
Refeer

best transformers game was the first 1 for ps2

FamousCalibur
FamousCalibur

If only I was already a Game Designer, I could make amazing games.

Muvilici
Muvilici

@superdude100 I agree. All of them, actually... Except the Star Wars games.

superdude100
superdude100

could be good but will probably be a load of crap

DrJoeystein
DrJoeystein

War for Cybertron was epic. Even though this is a movie game, I think High Moon Studios can make it really awesome if they stick to their guns.

dawnofhero
dawnofhero

The movie should be entertaining at least.

ReaverGod666
ReaverGod666

Bah! Looks like crap. After the way the last Transformer game failed, I'm not looking forward to this one.

wny716
wny716

it should be free roam,,,,take saint row or gta4,,replace the humans with transformers,,,picture this,,driving down the streets of cybertron seeing different transformers living life,,able to go any where,it would be so dam sweet,,,best game ever,,like [woc]this game is going to suck,,whats the point of playing transformer if you can't go any where or do what you want,,

Sablicious
Sablicious

The second I read something to the effect of "caters to both casual and a hardcore fans" I immediately relegate the game they're referring to the 'casualware' list. This hackneyed lie has become more overused than the Requiem For A Dream theme! Do devs really think gamers so damn stupid as to think a game can be both 'hardcore' and 'casual' at the same time, when we all know games today are 95% casual no matter which way you look at it...?! Next they'll be saying we can screw a still remain virgins too...! >_>

icebox98
icebox98

just like War For Cybertron, i think this might work if they try to ignore the movie ......but unfortunately they never take their time to read what the people who care about gaming think of this crap. good thing its not coming on pc

deathwish026
deathwish026

think i will be picking this up when its around £20.

deathwish026
deathwish026

actualy haterz the second transformers game was actualy good for its multiplayer. quite enjoyable

Rikudo-Pein
Rikudo-Pein

@GAMERALL Logical reasons? no... just no... But I do admit, these Transformer games (movie games in general actual) are all pretty much bull crap... War for Cybertron was the best TF game!!

Marasca2
Marasca2

@teveyhom Except for War for Cybertron. That game is great.

GAMERALL
GAMERALL

@teveyhom I agree with you, yet people buy games mostly for emotional reasons, not for logical reasons.

teveyhom
teveyhom

With all the quality games coming out in the second half of this year, how could any sane person waste their hard earned money on garbage like this! The Transformers games are a complete disgrace to any gaming systemI Shame shame Activision!

Janpieterzun
Janpieterzun

The first two games sucked horribly, the war for cybertron was bearable...why would anyone buy this?

skeleme
skeleme

Transformers games suck. They should just give up.

smoman5000
smoman5000

Im not a fan of the movie transformers look, the faces just look like hunks of random moving metal pieces, as opposed to the smooth look of all the cartoons that came before. Anyway, War for Cybertron felt like a step in the right direction, lets see where this one takes us

gunslayer5
gunslayer5

I kinda agree with strikezone311 though... A good example would be War for Cybertron. Wasn't a movie and it was great, probably the best transformer game of the past decade

Drakkengoth
Drakkengoth

looks to b not even half as good as War for cybertron looked a year ago

dsgfbvdgshvbd
dsgfbvdgshvbd

@strikezone311 but game based movies can be great

brain56
brain56

@strikezone311 Not all of 'em. The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King was good.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

If it isn't an original sequel to War for Cybertron showing the epic battles the rest of the Autobots and Decepticons fought whilst Optimus Prime and Megatron lay dormant on Earth. Then I'm not interested. Pull your fingers out guys, theres a wealth of material and space for you to work with and create original stories within that timeline.

ratchet200
ratchet200

Don't know why they don't just improve on War for Cybertron. That game had some flaws but it was still heaps of fun!

Scorchstar
Scorchstar

Judging by its last two movie games, this will suck.

Cobra5
Cobra5

I love how they do the movie tie-ins with a perfectly straight face.

organbank
organbank

I feel sorry for the poor sod that has to try and talk this game up. Oh well at least they will get a pay check for doing it...

jamerncc1701
jamerncc1701

BAYSPLOSIONS! Will try out at least, just like the second movie.