Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review (PS3/360)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a third-person action game based on the third Transformers film and developed by High Moon Studios (Transformers: War for Cybertron).  The game is a prequel to the Transformers: Dark of the Moon film and is available for both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Story: 2/5

Transformers: Dark of the Moon takes place three years after the events of Revenge of the Fallen. The humans believe that the Decepticons have fled Earth, yet Optimus feels differently and the Autobots continue the search for Megatron and his Decepticons. Unlike the previous two movie games, the story is played through a single player campaign rather than separate Autobot and Decepticon campaigns. You’ll begin the game as Bumblebee who is sent to upload a virus into Soundwave’s network system to track all remaining Decepticons on Earth. From there, you take control of Ironhide who is ordered to rescue Ratchet from the Decepticon known as Mixmaster. Mirage then takes center stage as he races to aid Sideswipe and also discovers that the Mayans built their temples above Decepticon technology. After this point in the game, you take control of the Decepticons, with Soundwave landing on Earth after disconnecting himself from a US satellite. He discovers that NEST has a secret facility hidden in a volcano and begins to attack the base. During this time, the Decepticons learn that the Autobots are about to transport their new mechtech weapons system to Optimus aboard Stratosphere. Starscream begins the attack on Stratosphere to retrieve the mechtech but gets ambushed by the Aerialbots. Starscream manages to evade the Aerialbots and obtains the mechtech for Megatron. However, Megatron is angered when Starscream returns the mechtech to their layer, revealing that the mechtech contains a tracking device. It’s at that moment that the Autobots attack, leaving Megatron to defend himself against the Autobot warriors. As the Autobots swarm the base, Megatron makes his way to the cryochamber that holds Soundwave (captured by the Russians in the same manner that Megatron was captured by the Americans). Yet before Megatron can release Shockwave, Optimus Prime arrives to stop Megatron. After defeating Optimus, Megatron escapes, leaving Optimus in a cryochamber leading to Shockwave. This final level has you controlling Optimus Prime as you fight a Driller and Shockwave together. Even though the premise is pretty basic, the story guides the player through the games objective. In the end, the game takes place through seven chapters, filling in some gaps and leading directly to the Dark of the Moon film.

Gameplay: 4/5

The game is a huge improvement over the two previous Transformers movie games, and is very similar to Transformers: War for Cybertron (In my opinion, the best Transformers game thus far). As you control both Autobots and Decepticons throughout the game, you’ll notice that the games controls are just like WFC, with some minor differences. The ability to pick up new weapons is gone, as well as the need to pick up ammunition. Instead, each character possesses special abilities and weapons that are used specifically for the stage that they are a part of. For instance, Soundwave can utilize laserbeak to access areas out of his reach, while Mirage can camoflauge himself to sneak undetected past Decepticon patrols. What the game does well is change the pace of the game from simply shooting robots across seven levels. There is a good degree of variety in the gameplay. Your tasks include objectives such as stealth, race, flight, item retrieval, and obviously gunplay. This game even uses the vehicle modes in a more creative fashion than WFC did, letting you use the vehicles more frequently and with purpose. This time around, the Transformers also turn into a third form called Stealth Mode form, which turns your vehicle into an arsenal of destruction. These vehicles “hover” and add extra armor to your vehicle mode. Controls for the vehicle modes are sluggish in Stealth Mode form, and too loose in vehicle mode. The boost for your vehicle doesn’t help as it makes movement a lot more difficult to control, leaving you bumping into areas needlessly. The game is playable, but controls in vehicle form could have been more refined to match the robot forms. The game is a bit on the short side, with the game taking about 5 hours to complete. While some might find that short, the game was enjoyable enough to warrant a second playthrough, as well as the addition of Multiplayer to lengthen the game. One thing that I wish they included was the option to choose any Transformer for any level after the game has been completed, but each level is set directly to a specific character, leaving you to play through the same levels with the same characters.

Graphics: 3/5

Graphics are a step down from War for Cyberton. The levels are mostly bland, ranging from forests, to hidden bases and even a volcano. While the set locations are interesting, the graphics don’t do enough to make anything stand out. The Transformers themselves are pretty boring to look at for the most part because of their movie versions, which means a lot of dark gray colors. In one level, it was tough to determine who was a Decepticon, and who was an Autobot during a firefight. Cutscenes were pretty basic as well, which worked fine but does nothing to impress you.

Sound: 5/5

The game does a good job with weapon and transformation effects, as well as providing the voices of the actors behind the film (especially Peter Cullen as Optimus).  The music of the game is very reminiscent of the Transformers movie score, and provides a good soundtrack while playing.

Overall: 14/20 = 7/10

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an improvement over the previous two movie games, but a step down from War for Cybertron. It’s a fun game for fans of the Transformers franchise and a decent movie tie-in game.

PROS:

+Gameplay similar to War for Cybertron, with a variety of levels

+Cameo appearances from movie versions of Transformer characters

+Good sound effects and music

CONS:

-Short campaign that lasts about 5 hours

-Basic story line

-Graphics are a step down from WFC

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