Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen First Hands-On

We get our hands on Activision's upcoming movie game to see how it handles in single-player and multiplayer.

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Activision's upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen aims to drop you in the combat boots of either the heroes or the villains of the upcoming action flick. While this was basically the goal of the first Transformers movie game, we all know how that turned out (in other words, not so good). Thankfully, Revenge of the Fallen is headed in a positive direction. The game is being developed by Luxoflux, which has been quietly turning out some solid movie games over the past few years, and takes a slightly different approach than the first game did. We had the chance to try out the game's single-player and multiplayer modes, which are shaping up to be solid complements to the film.

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For those who haven't been keeping up on current robot events, the strory in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen picks up a few years after the defeat of Megatron. Unfortunately, the defeat of the evil Decepticons' leader didn't curb the villainous robots' urge to stomp humans and fight the noble Autobots. The ensuing years have found Decepticons actually gaining a foothold in scattered places around the globe. To add insult to injury, something has arrived on Earth that seems likely to shift the tide of the battle in their favor.

The game will let you play through a single-player campaign and bounce between the Autobot and Decepticon perspectives, blending both movie-based missions and original missions into a lengthy, challenging experience. Each faction will have its own set of playable characters for single-player and multiplayer modes. Autobot fans will be able to play as Optimus Prime, Iron Hide, Breakaway, Bumblebee, and Ratchet. In addition, Autobots based on the aerialbot and protectobot designs will be available in multiplayer. On the Decepticon side you'll be able to play as Starscream, Sideways (a new character), Grindor, Long Haul, and Megatron (come on, did you really think he was dead?). The multiplayer addition to the roster is based on the Seeker bots you cross paths with.

The single-player mission we tried was named Autobot Down and cast us as Ratchet, who is sent to Shanghai to look for Ironhide, who has gone missing after engaging Decepticon forces. One thing to note is that as you complete missions and certain objectives, you'll unlock other characters to play as. The mission plays out in two parts, finding Ironhide then escorting him to safety, which is easier said than done thanks to Shanghai's surprisingly robust Decepticon population. Fortunately, once you're on the second part of the mission, Ironhide helps out by shooting enemies. You'll also have the benefit of Ratchet's special ability, which is an area healing effect that mends both bots. At the end of the mission we were rated on our performance and earned a bronze rating. Completing missions will earn you points you can spend on upgrades for your faction, which will yield improved performance.

The single-player level also let us get our first feel for the game's controls, which are smartly laid out, once you get used to one minor quirk. You'll move with the left analog stick and use the face buttons to jump, melee attack, climb, and trigger your special ability. The top sets of triggers will let you switch between your primary and secondary weapons and activate your character's overdrive mode once you've charged it. The lower triggers let you aim with the left trigger and shoot with the right. The right trigger also serves as your transformation button, which you'll have to hold down in order to remain in vehicle mode. While this may sound a bit odd, and initially you might find yourself releasing it without thinking as you play, the mechanic actually lets you perform the high-speed moves and acrobatic moves seen in the films. Once we got used to it, we were bouncing between robot and vehicle forms with ease.

Bumblebee prepares to kick some fender.
Bumblebee prepares to kick some fender.

Our knowledge of the game's control scheme was sorely tested during our multiplayer matches, which gave us the chance to try out the different game types in the online multiplayer mode. All told, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will feature five match types: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, One Shall Stand, Control Points, and Battle for the Shards. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are exactly what you'd expect: solo or team-based robot battling across stages set around the world.

One Shall Stand tasks you with taking out your opposing team's leader--Optimus if you play as Decepticons, and Megatron if you're an Autobot. If you're not playing as the leader, you'll automatically respawn if you're taken out during a fight. However, if your leader is taken out, you'll have 60 seconds to knock off the opposing team's leader before losing the match. If you're the lucky assassin, your hard work will be rewarded and you'll be cast as your team's leader in the next round.

Control Points has teams fighting for control over specific points on a map. There's a slightly tricky wrinkle to it in that you'll have to capture them in a specific order. You'll start in the center of a level, which is a neutral control point. Capturing a point nets you a bit of breathing room because recently captured points can't be retaken by your enemy for 10 seconds. Gaining or losing a point affects what you can take control of next, which adds a decent layer of challenge to the action. You'll get visual prompts as to where to go next and what points need defending.

Finally, Battle for the Shards is a capture-the-flag-style game that has you working with a team to collect shards of the Allspark, the techno-mystical artifact that got blown up in the last film. The goal is to gather the shards spread around the level and take them back to your base. Unfortunately, you'll be limited to walking back while holding a shard, which is painfully slow and dangerous. However, this obstacle aside, holding the shard lets you fire off a powerful defensive pulse, which helps take out some enemies.

After playing all the modes, we can say that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's multiplayer is shaping up well. The game's action is fast, and the mode types offer a good amount of fun. To help keep the action competitive, Luxoflux is adding in detailed stat tracking to give you a better idea of your performance. While there isn't anything new in terms of what you'd expect from traditional multiplayer, the game is fun and has giant robots that transform, which is pretty much what you'd want out of a Transformers game. We definitely approve of the ability to do all the crazy stunts and use the different bots and their special abilities to try for some coordinated teamwork.

Expect all of the robot-on-robot action from the film, if not all the
Expect all of the robot-on-robot action from the film, if not all the "Megan Fox on a bike" action.

Even if you got burned by the last Transformers game and are a little gun-shy about this entry, you might want to give Revenge of the Fallen a chance. Luxoflux appears to be addressing some of the main sore spots from the first game. The control feels tighter, and the camera doesn't appear to be as big of a problem. More importantly, there's more freedom in how you progress in the single-player game, which is much appreciated. In addition, the multiplayer mode offers plenty of fun. The final bit of good news is that there are some cool unlockables that will most certainly please fans. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is slated to ship this June in time with the movie.

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