During our developer walkthrough for Transformers: Dark of the Moon we saw a good bit of the style of gameplay and how it compared and contrasted to previous games featuring the Robots in Disguise. This week, at an Activision Press Event held in San Francisco, we got to grab the controller and see what it really held.
Jumping in with Megatron in his still-hurt-from-the-end-of-last-film form, the game controls functionally identically to last year's excellent War for Cybertron. In fact, the developer was amazed by how quickly I got into the game, until he asked if I'd played Cybertron. Megatron had a fun draining ability, but overall, it was "plod around slowly, fire slow-firing shot at slow-moving target." Slow. Slow. Slow.
So, I moved over to a more open level, rather than this small closed area, now I have room to drive and really rock with the autobot Ironhide. Except driving is slow too. The new Stealth mode, which is actually the opposite of Stealth as you now have big weaponry in that vehicular form, is nice; you feel like you're still a powerful alien robot instead of just a car; however it just plain moves too slowly. Gone is the fun driving transform-and-leap, but that's not the only thing missing here.
As this one is a movie game (well, a movie prequel; the story takes place between movies 2 and 3), it has a much more linear story. In each level you control one particular Autobot or Decepticon; and you're all alone. One of the coolest features in last year's Transformers game (which is getting a proper sequel next year, by the way) was the 3 player co-op. This is single player only in campaign, and it definitely is a loss for this game.
The competitive multiplayer is all name characters, in the same general mayhem of the last couple of years. The maps were larger, which was nice; it felt good to both be feeling the size of your giant robots, but not feel super closed in.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with this game (aside from the speed of movement just feeling so damn slow at times), it just feels like such a step back from Cybertron. For fans of the franchise, and those who are excited about the next movie, this should do the trick for a fix. Overall, though, based on what we played, it doesn't look like Transformers: Dark of the Moon the game will offer much to the average gamer. This one is for hardcore fans only.