I am really not a fan of movie tie-ins for games. They end up being constrained by the source material, and that ultimately leads to subpar video games. In the recent past, there have been a few exceptions, but more times than not, these games end up being major disappoints. I’m sad to say that Transformers: Dark of the Moon does nothing to dispel this trend. The sad part about it is that the previous game, Transformers: War For Cybertron, was pretty well received, but it was an original story that was not associated with a movie.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the kind of game that makes you disappointed to be a fan of the franchise – it is just not fun. You get to play as several different Autobots throughout the game, but no matter which one you play with, the gameplay always feels clunky. Even the coolest thing about the Transformers, which is their ability to transform, is done in a manner that is just annoying. The game is set up as a series of objective based missions where you have to navigate through the environment, dispatching any Decepticon threats that pop up in your way. In an attempt to find a happy balance between the maneuverability and enjoyment of being in Robot mode, and the power and freedom of being in vehicle mode, they introduced a brand new form called Stealth Force. Stealth Force is a hybrid form somewhere between Robot and Vehicle, and while the idea was great, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. While in Stealth Force mode you are in a semi-vehicle, which is permanently in strafe mode causing you to kind of slide around and all over the place. As a gameplay mechanic I could see how they could have thought this was a nice addition, but to be honest it just confuses the player and takes away from the authenticity of the title by adding in a form that is not true to the franchise.
The game does have a decent story, but that is to be expected from a franchise that has such rich source material to draw from. The voice work is also excellent; in fact it may be the best thing about the game. While the game retains some of the components that made the last game really good, it is too dramatic of a shift in the gameplay for even those features to save it. Then there is the way that the game looks. The Transformers themselves are still cool to look at, but the graphical detail just isn’t there at all. Honestly, this game could be mistaken for a late generation PS2 game. The team at High Noon really had some good momentum going with WFC, but it pretty much loses all that with this game.
The game’s multiplayer is not as good as it was the last time around, but may be the most enjoyable and redeeming part of the game. From the games I played, I can say that I definitely enjoyed the multiplayer much more than the single player campaign. Even with a less than stellar single player campaign, the game’s multiplayer was still well populated and I never had difficulty finding a game so some folks definitely enjoy it.
The final call on Transformers: Dark of the Moon is that if you are a hardcore Transformers fan you “might” be able to forgive all the deficiencies this game has, but I will leave that up to you. To the folks out there who’s first introduction to this video game franchise was War For Cybertron, I will say that you will be sadly disappointed as Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a mere shell of what that game was. On the brightside, the success of the first War For Cybertron almost guarantees a sequel, and without the pressure of a movie tie-in, hopefully High Noon can deliver the kind of Transformers game that we all can get excited about. In any case, Transformsers: Dark of the Moon is a game that I would be hard pressed to recommend you buy. However, if you were a fan of the last game it might be worth a rental from Redbox –it only cost $2.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon simply fails to deliver on the promise of Transformers: War For Cybertron and instead gives us something that is an utter disappointment on multiple levels. We still believe that if High Noon gets the chance to make Transformers: War For Cybertron 2, it will be just as good as the first one. Unfortunately, this isn’t that game and we give Transformers: Dark of the Moon 4 out of 10.