Transformers: The Game Review

Envision the dullest possible game about giant robots beating one another up, and then find a way to make it even duller. That's Transformers in a nutshell.

The new Transformers games haven't exactly been a picnic up to this point, but none of them can hold a candle to the level of sheer drudgery that Transformers: The Game for the PSP offers. It's not that the game is devoid of a winning formula or anything. You get to play as any number of the various Autobots or Decepticons, stomping through a bunch of different environments while shooting and punching opposing robots. You also get to shoot some tanks, helicopters, and whatnot. Giant robots blowing stuff up should and almost always is awesome. In Transformers, it's anything but.

Apparently giant robot battles make a good sleep aid. Who knew?

Blame it on the controls, the level designs, or the graphics--anything you want. There's plenty to be spread around. Ultimately, the controls probably are the biggest culprit. It makes sense that a giant robot would be a bit unwieldy to move, but here, they're not only clunky but also achingly slow. There's little to no ability to properly maneuver yourself around the game's cramped environments, and the slogging pace at which the robots run is enough to put you to sleep before you even get to your first boss fight.

If you do manage to get into a few battles before nodding off, you'll find the combat to be a total chore. Aiming is just as sluggish and imprecise as the robot movements. You use the triangle and X buttons to move the targeting reticle up or down. You also have to be pretty careful about where you aim to hit anything. The second an enemy robot moves slightly out of the way, you've got to readjust your aim because there's no targeting lock of any sort. That's pretty annoying when you're trying to run and shoot at the same time. It's a good thing enemies have an innate tendency to get hung up on walls, pillars, and other pieces of the environment because it makes killing them a heck of a lot easier.

At some point, it just becomes easier to run up to a bad guy and punch him a bunch of times instead of trying to line up your lasers, machine guns, rocket launchers, or whatever else. Melee combat is more effective, but it's also kind of pathetic. You just run up to an enemy robot and start punching away, but the enemy never, ever reacts. The enemy robot just stands there, sometimes punching back, and eventually, it explodes. That speaks to a larger problem with the game, which is an apparent lack of animation. Transforming into your vehicular form is a joke. You get about a third of a transformation animation then your robot pops directly into vehicle form and vice versa. Considering the overall lack of quality in the graphics, perhaps that's not overly surprising. Every environment is gray, brown, or a combination of the two. Thick fog covers everything a few feet above your head, and the frame rate still struggles in spots. It's not pretty.

There are a few very mild positives at least. Mission design is varied, if not overly so. You get a variety of goals to take care of, whether it's taking out one specific Transformer, an entire military convoy, or some manner of escort mission. It's still mindless, clunky shooting for the most part, but the game does try to dress up the missions. Plot wise, the game ties itself loosely to the film, though it also aims to expand a bit upon the film's plot. Unfortunately, its concept of expansion is to toss some rather dull cutscenes before and after each level of mindless shooting. The story goes a bit beyond the storyline found in the other game versions of Transformers, as well as the film, and it even includes some older Transformers from the franchise's past. While it's cool to see some old, familiar faces, there's still not much of a plot here--at least not one worth caring about.

In this environment, the developers have liberally mixed both brown and gray into something…brown-grayish...

Lastly, Transformers actually includes a multiplayer mode for up to four players via ad-hoc play. The standard multiplayer variants are all on hand, such as death match, capture the flag, and king of the hill. The game uses the same basic environments from the single-player for the multiplayer action, so you're still wandering around these ugly places, though now they're a lot more vacant. Combat and control are as awful in multiplayer as they are in single-player, so it's unlikely anyone's going to have much fun with this mode either.

If you are on the hunt for a playable companion piece to the Transformers film, you would do better to pick up literally any other version of this game. None of the other versions are exactly good, but at least they aren't as tediously boring as the PSP game.

The Good
A wide variety of playable Autobots and Decepticons
Solid voice work from Peter Cullen and Frank Welker
The Bad
Control issues and mind-numbing combat sequences wreck the gameplay
Level designs are cramped and ugly
A distinct lack of animation in a number of spots
Multiplayer is no fun
4
Poor
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Transformers: The Game More Info

  • First Released
    • DS
    • PC
    • + 5 more
    • PlayStation 2
    • PlayStation 3
    • PSP
    • Wii
    • Xbox 360
    Traveller's Tales is developing a Transformers game based on the upcoming movie.
    6.2
    Average User RatingOut of 7669 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Vicarious Visions, Traveller's Tales, Savage Entertainment
    Published by:
    Activision
    Genres:
    3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    PC PS2 PS3 X360 WII
    Fantasy Violence
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    PSP DS
    Violence