Transformers Update

It's more than meets the eye--and it's looking even better than it did before.

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Transformers (2004)
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The last time we took a look at Transformers on the PS2, we were genuinely impressed by the direction in which Atari and developer Melbourne House have taken the game. Licensed games are always a dicey proposition, so you never know if the publisher is rushing a halfhearted effort out the door in hopes that the game's name recognition alone will cover up potentially glaring flaws in the product. Thankfully, the fine lads at Melbourne House have created an intense action game around the Transformers license that should definitely please diehard fans of the "robots in disguise."

A couple of months ago, Transformers was already quite playable, but we got to try a new build of the game this week that was even more polished than the build we saw in February. The frame rate seems to have been noticeably improved in some areas, and though it was never egregiously low to begin with, things are running even more smoothly now. The game employs an interesting blur technique that softens the blow when the frame rate does dip, which doesn't really happen very often (nor does it look very bad). The game still plays as well as it did before, and the graphical enhancements only aid the experience.

We also got to delve a little deeper into the missions presented by the game and were pretty shocked at some of the outlandish situations we found ourselves in. (We mean that in a good way.) Since you're fighting against Megatron's "Decepticlone" army, you'll be up against a whole bunch of identical automatons whose sole aim is to destroy you. In some areas, the point is driven home when you stumble upon, literally, dozens of these minor enemies in the same room (who are all ready to destroy you). We were also pretty floored when we fought the boss of the mid-Atlantic level, Tidal Wave. Series fans will know that Tidal Wave is one of the biggest Transformers, clocking in at something like 900 feet tall. (He does turn into an aircraft carrier, after all.) You'll spend the better part of a level inside Tidal Wave in his carrier form while fighting lesser enemies and working to sabotage the boat. After he transforms, though, all bets are off, so you'll actually have to fight him from the ground like an ant. This is easily one of the biggest and most impressive boss encounters we've seen in a game, and it's one good reason--among many--to check Transformers out.

In our previous look, we described the way you'll collect Minicons throughout the game to bolster your weapons and defensive systems. After playing the game a bit more, we've discovered that there's even more depth to the Minicon system than we first realized. The Minicons are grouped into different categories, and depending on the relationships between the Minicons that you have equipped, you'll get various statistical bonuses, such as extra energy. This ought to provide even more strategic value to the system for those players who want to return to previous levels to collect every last Minicon. By the end of the game, with enough Minicons and a little careful planning, your Autobot could be a serious powerhouse.

From what we've played of this latest build of Transformers, we're still quite looking forward to the final version of the game. It's pretty tough so far--even on the easiest setting--so even though Melbourne House may still be tweaking and balancing the game's difficulty, it looks like Transformers won't be a cakewalk when action fans get to take it home in early May. Keep an eye out for more coverage on the game soon.

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