Transformers: The Game is very much the archetypal movie-licensed game. It's got all the hallmark problems of the genre, including short length, overly simplistic mechanics, a barely-there story, and a bit of a sloppy feel. It is simply an excuse for fans of the upcoming live action film (and maybe even some fans of the old cartoons who, admittedly, will take pretty much anything they can get at this point) to run around, awkwardly beating up Autobots or Decepticons in various semidestructible environments. If that's all you want out of the game, then Transformers might provide you a few mild hours of entertainment. If you were hoping for something more, Transformers will probably just disappoint you.
The basic premise of the game is the same as the film's. The classic Transformers battle between good robots and evil robots has spilled over to planet Earth as the two warring sides search frantically for an artifact known as the AllSpark. The AllSpark is essentially the life force for all Transformers, which explains why they'd want to get it back. Sam Witwicky (voiced with appropriate "gee whiz!"-ness by Shia LaBeouf) is an average teenager who happens to hold the key to finding the AllSpark. From there, it's a race for both sides to find Sam and get the AllSpark. There might be more to the movie's plot than what is presented here, and you should really hope there is, because otherwise, we're all in for one exceedingly boring film. With the exception of a few bouts of basic dialogue between Sam and the various Transformers (including veteran TV series voice actors Peter Cullen and Frank Welker reprising their roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron with about as much enthusiasm as you could hope for), there's almost no story to drive the game forward. In some respects that's not surprising, simply because with this method, almost none of the film is spoiled for you.
The one potentially interesting thing about Transformers is that it splits the game into two campaigns, with one for each faction. In the Autobots campaign, you'll play as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, and others as you hunt for the AllSpark and try to protect Sam, and the rest of humanity, for that matter. On the flipside, the Decepticons campaign has you playing as Megatron, Starscream, Barricade, and company to track down the AllSpark and destroy the Autobots. While the opportunity to play as both the good and evil sides sounds enticing, you'll actually find that there's very little difference between the two campaigns.
Regardless of which side you pick, you'll be forced to slog through a copious number of missions that have you fighting easy-to-kill grunt Transformers using the same three-hit combo again and again, or racing around one of the game's few, somewhat open-ended environments trying to chase down one Autobot or Decepticon to fight a few times while using the same three-hit combo, as well as an occasional throw attack. These missions might have been more tolerable if the combat were a little more involved, but as it stands, you just need to mash on the melee attack button to blow through most enemies, and the few that aren't so easy just require a random object from the environment thrown at them to soften them up. As you are Transformers, you can also transform and roll out as one of several different vehicle types. However, driving is decidedly less fun than running around as a robot, as the cars handle very loosely and tend to get hung up on random environmental objects--which is odd, since when you hit other cars, they just go flying like they're made out of cardboard.
The lone bright spot comes from the Decepticons campaign. In certain missions, you're tasked with simply laying waste to one environment or another. Be it a big city or a sprawling military installation, these environments are fun to destroy. Your weapons fire does a lot of damage to buildings, cars, trees, and any other solid objects nearby. In the Autobots campaign, you can do the same types of damage, but it's all incidental, since you're ultimately trying to protect humanity--not lay waste to it. On the Decepticons side, your goal is to cause as much chaos as you can, and that can be a good bit of fun. What's neat is the way the destruction and battles are presented--explosions are frequent and large, the damage to buildings looks appropriately massive, and the combat moves you can pull off actually do look cool. Seeing Optimus running around, double-fisting pistols, and Blackout using his helicopter blades as a sword is pretty awesome. Part of that comes from some solid animation, but it also helps that the Transformer models are so highly detailed. Say what you want about the new robot designs from the movie--they're represented very well within the game, though the one issue is that sometimes you'll actually forget which Transformer you're playing as, since many of them look the same in robot form. That's really more the fault of the film's designs than anything else, though.
Adding to the mass-destruction effect is the camera, which violently shakes during battles, and even jerks around a bit as your big, clunky robots run around. Unfortunately, that shaky-cam effect tends to get in the way more than it helps. At times there are so many explosions and so much gunfire going off that the added chaos of the camera makes the whole scene indecipherable for several seconds. TThis is also one of those games where you can easily get boxed in by multiple enemies or trapped in some chunk of the environment, unable to move because the camera won't steer around to a good vantage point. By the same token, Transformers relies too heavily on contrived "action zones," which are just chunks of the open-world environments that you can't exit while in battle. If you go out, you've got to run back in or you fail the mission. Of course, it doesn't help when you're getting blasted out of the zone and are continually forced out again and again by enemies who follow you out and keep knocking away at you. That isn't a constant problem, but a few missions are made far too frustrating by the fact that you have to constantly try to stay within these stupid action zones.
At least you won't have to put up with issues like this for very long. Each of the game's campaigns is only a few hours in length, putting the game's total length right around five to six hours. If you're really looking to extend out the experience, there are a bunch of side missions in each game area (most of which are just simple, slightly dull "kill a bunch of this enemy type" missions), some unlockable content to mess with, including film clips and photo sets, and some unlockable skins for the Transformers that give them their original, G1 skins from the cartoon. Granted, you'll have to go do all the silly side missions to unlock a lot of those skins, and those just aren't fun enough to justify the effort.
There are some notable differences among the various console versions of Transformers. The Xbox 360 version has the usual smattering of achievements, many of which can be easily earned just playing through both campaigns, though several of the remaining ones require you to do all the various side missions. In terms of control, the 360, PS2, and PS3 versions are basically identical, though the PS3 version lets you use the Sixaxis tilt controls to steer Decepticons that can fly, like Megatron and Blackout. The Wii version obviously has its own array of motion controls, though unlike some other, recent movie-licensed titles, they aren't completely half-baked. Yes, you swipe the Wii Remote or the Nunchuk to attack, but these controls actually feel responsive enough that you don't feel like you're constantly struggling to hit something. The one downside is camera control, which is mapped to the remote. It's not unmanageable, but the camera will often move up or down too far if you just happen to hold the remote at a slight angle. In terms of graphics, the 360 and PS3 versions are both entirely comparable to each other, though the PS3 version is a bit lacking in the lighting department, looking overly dark in spots. The Wii version retains the basic look of the other versions, though it's obviously scaled down to fit with the system's hardware. The Transformers still look nicely detailed in the Wii version, but the environments have been scaled back significantly. The frame rate also tends to dip more often on the Wii version, but not to an unplayable degree. The PS2 version looks even a bit more scaled back than the Wii one does, though its frame rate also seems a tad more consistent.
Transformers: The Game ultimately delivers a passable, though also entirely unremarkable tie-in to the upcoming film. The one thing it nails is the size and feel of these gigantic robots, and their ability to cause massive destruction, but that one feature isn't enough to carry the entire game, especially with the burden of the periodic glitches, camera problems, and overly simplistic combat to carry as well. If all you want is to see some nice-looking robots beat each other and the world silly, then throwing down a rental fee on this game isn't a bad way to go. But regardless of your affinity for the film, the franchise at large, or giant robots in general, Transformers: The Game doesn't have enough going for it to make it worth a purchase.