Now that we've run through the various stages of grief that old-school Transformers fans have experienced since seeing the CG, lip-having, not-G1 robots in the upcoming movie, we're on to acceptance. The timing worked out nicely, as Activision stopped by to show off the upcoming Nintendo DS games based on the film. Yes, games. In a nice nod to the "east side/west side" split between Autobot and Decepticon fans, developer Vicarious Visions is cooking up two versions of the game, each featuring one of the two warring robot factions that wind up bringing the fight to Earth. We had the chance to get a demo of the games, and they're both looking like solid 3D action titles that serve as yet another feather in Vicarious' peacock-like hat of accomplishments on Nintendo's dual-screen system.
Both games take the standard movie-game route and draw the core of their action from the film's plot. However, a good dose of dramatic license is taken to ensure the games aren't over in two hours. The central story focuses on both factions as they reach Earth in search of the Allspark, a powerful object that could help tip the scales in favor of whichever group gets it first and end the war between them. Though this would probably work out fine if the Autobots got it, the Decepticons would really mess up people's days. When both games start, you'll take the role of a rookie soldier in one of the factions. In the Autobot game, you'll have the option to play as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee as you progress, while the Decepticon game will eventually let you hop into the steely shoes of Starscream and Barricade.
The core gameplay is third-person, mission-based action played out in a 3D city. You'll get missions via radio and make your way around dealing with the Decepticon or Autobot menace, depending on which game you play. The games have some light RPG elements and let you level up once you've earned enough experience from defeating enemies. Besides making you a sturdier 'bot or 'con, you'll open up new abilities and attacks. One of the coolest aspects of the games is the ability to scan vehicles and add them into your repertoire of "stuff I can change into." Better still is the ability to customize your look by tweaking the color scheme.
Besides the single-player experience, both versions of the game will offer local wireless multiplayer modes for up to four players, which include staples such as team deathmatch. Probably the coolest feature of the game is a Nintendo Wi-Fi connection-powered feature dubbed AllSpark Wars, which will let you download daily challenge missions into either game that, once completed, the information is sent to a global server that tracks the performance of both factions. The main goal is to ensure your side has the advantage. Control in the games is solid and relies on the touch screen for various actions, such as scanning, transforming, and reviewing your objectives, which are all easily accessible with the tap of one of your thumbs.
The visuals in the game are solid and have a good look to them. Vicarious' experience with the DS ensures some snappy tech under the hood of the game, which results in solid visuals and good performance, even in a work-in-progress state. The game's audio follows suit and offers a good complement to the graphics.
Based on what we played, Transformers is shaping up to offer a pretty cool experience on the DS. The two-robot-flavor offering is pretty smart and should appeal to fans. The Wi-Fi mode is very cool and has the potential to keep players coming back long after they've finished the main game. As a bonus, the game will contain unlockables that offer some cool surprises. Transformers in both Autobot and Decepticon varieties will be out this June.