Optimus Prime is not small. That's how huge Devastator is.The first Transformers movie gave fans a live, bigscreen version of giant robots fighting in a manner that pleased most fans. It wasn’t the best reviewed or most money making movie of all time, but it was highly successful. The game that accompanied it? Well, not so much. It was marked by fans and critics alike as another example of a movie game gone wrong. Activision and developer Luxoflux look to change that with the game sequel, and showed their progress to a group of journalists at an event last week.
The two biggest things the developers are focused on bringing to the new game seemed obvious to the fans, who told them exactly what they wanted. First is transforming that actually makes sense, and second is all out multiplayer action where groups of Autobots and Decepticons can find out which faction is strongest. In addition, they of course want a solid single player campaign that gives fans a nice variety of action while playing through the story from the movie. Well, as of right now, I’ll say two out of three ain’t bad.
Ironhide throws down in multiplayerThe transformations in this game are both fun to look at and extremely functional. At any time, your ‘bot can move into vehicle mode and back in a smooth motion that doesn’t stop the action at all. In fact, it is an integral part of the action. Gamers will have to master special moves that involve jumping or attacking directly out of vehicle mode. The vehicles and robots handle equally as well, with tight controls in both modes, making it a real thrill to transform and roll (or fly) out.
The multiplayer is put at a frenetic pace. Both maps we played were somewhat small, though we were told they were the two smallest of the selection. The map size is affected by the fact that your characters are half the size of some of the buildings. The small maps did help keep the pace of the battles up, so it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The other main aspect of multiplayer is how well it encourages teamwork. Each character has a style of fighting and a special ability. It amounts to a basic class system and works extremely well. The majority of special abilities are support based, with healing or debuffing powers, and they automatically regenerate at a rate that was just fast enough to use effectively and not fast enough to make characters nigh-invincible. I found it was actually fun to play as a more supportive character. Support is also encouraged by the point system. Points are gained for assists and for goal completion, as well as for kills. In one battle, I had the most points, even though I had 8 less kills than the leader in that stat. The bots are well balanced and varied enough to offer several different styles of play. While there are 13 characters to start, Luxoflux has DLC planned to bring in more of the robots in disguise. There is also the ability to play standard deathmatch battles, or to turn off the team matching and allow mixed teams of Autobots and Decepticons, but the standard team battles will likely be the ones most played.
In Multiplayer, you'll frequently have attacks coming from all angles.In short, they clearly put a lot of thought, time, and effort into multiplayer and it paid off. Several people went back to the multiplayer stations even after their initial set time with the game, just to try out other characters and other strategies. It is definitely the top selling point for the game at this point, without a doubt.
The pacing, and the fun of working together with a team of Autobots or Decepticons, unfortunately does not carry over into the single player campaign. Instead, the campaign offered a very linear (the missions can be completed in almost any order, but each individual one is linear) run/drive to point A, defeat enemies, rinse, repeat. The boss battles we played were fun and offered some variety from the standard. Overdrive mode is important for these, as it allows unlimited use of weapons without overheating, helping the ultimate victory be reached much faster. For replayability, once you successfully complete a mission, you can then go back and play that as any character. If you defeat Demolisher with Optimus Prime, you can then see how fast you can beat him with Bumblebee or Ironside. As each character truly plays differently, your strategies will change, and this does offer some neat variety. Still, overall, the single player felt like filler, something to kill some time with in between multiplayer sessions. It’s not great, but not terrible, and the sheer variety of locations, missions, and strategies will offer something fun for Transformers fans.
I’m still interested in getting my hands on the finished product here. The multiplayer alone, provided a decent mp community can be built, should provide hours of fun. I’m concerned about the limited amount of maps, (only 5 were planned at press time), but that, along with characters, could be remedied using DLC. If they can take a page from Valve’s book and offer some or all of that DLC for free, they could have a game on their hands that will have some real staying power. Either way, there have been real improvements made to the franchise with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and it gives me high hopes for the future of the series.
Bumblebee in the Wii EditionThe Wii Difference
The Wii version of the game is being developed concurrently, but by Krome Studios. The game follows the same basic storyline of the movie, but the gameplay is completely different. Most of the levels are done in a on-rails shooter style, similar to House of the Dead. There is a twist, however, as you still control when your bot transforms while going down the path. You also have an assistant that can jump in and out on the fly at any time via a second controller. The assistant flies around a small drone that can shoot or help recharge the player one character. It’s a small role for a second player, but the co-op is easy to get in and out of and good for a few minutes of play here and there, exactly as it is designed. There are also a few platforming levels, and while the controls on these were still solid and easy to handle, the camera angles suffered at times more than in the on-rails levels. The difficulty level is defaulted at low to make this version of the game more all-ages accessible; if you die, you start back up from the exact same point, so there is never any real danger. The Wii edition looks to offer a fun family-oriented experience, with intuitive motion controls, solid aiming, and a lot of fun during the rails shooter portions. Hopefully those wind up being the vast majority, as the platforming just slowed things down and played a bit too generic for most gamers.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is set to ship on all major platforms the last week of June, 2009 along with the movie of the same name