A review by Barnes
Transformers, those big robots in disguise are in the middle of a comeback at the moment, it appears that after recent new cartoon series a whole new generation of kids are finding the benefit to robots that convert (somewhat slower in your hands) to vehicles, insects, dinosaurs and useful, but stationary objects.
I remember transformers from my youth, I had the toys, wore the T shirt and went to see the movie at the cinema, so at word of a new computer game I was pretty chuffed, finally I could control a transformer as they should be, see them transform at lightning speed, move as robots should and fight like a 40 ton lorry!
Now Transformers Armada kicks off in a fairly similar way to the TV series.To borrow from the game page info:
"The year is 2010 and the war for supremacy between the Autobots and Decepticons continues. On Earth, a group of kids find a Transformer ship that crash landed long before the dawn of mankind. Accidentally, they activate the ship's long-dormant cargo of Mini-cons, not knowing that the Autobots and Decepticons once schemed to keep this ship and its payload from ever being found.
Mini-cons possess a unique ability to make ordinary Transformers extremely powerful - in fact, both Autobots and Decepticons tried to use them during the Great War. When the ferocity of the war grew out of control, a truce was called and a decision was made to rid the war of these dangerous devices: All Mini-cons were placed into a ship and sent drifting into space for millions of years. Now the Mini-cons have been awakened and are on Earth and the Transformers want them back!"
As good a place as any for a computer game to start! So the game starts with three characters to play as, Optimus Prime, Red Alert and Hot Shot, they are balanced fairly well, Optimus is the strong slow character, Red Alert is the all rounder and Hot Shot is the faster but slightly weaker character, the gameplay breaks down into a general third person shooter with strong melee fighting thrown into the mix as well, all in all a fairly good transfer from the very simple storylines that the cartoons used to have!
Level design is very well put together, vast expanses are contrasted by small enclosed structures to fight in and the emphasis shifts from close range melee fights with multiple opponents to long range rifle and missile fights with airborn targets, its fun to play and while the levels can get slightly confusing, (there's no real compass or directional guide as to your suitable path) its not too hard to get back on track and find where you are supposed to be going!
To help you out on the vast levels is the handy ability to transform into a vehicle and its often far quicker to drive rather than run to your required destination, whilst on the note of moving around, its worth noting the general running around of characters is not as responsive as you may be used to.There are no cat like reflexes here, perhaps to try and emphasise the fact that you are controlling a giant robot things are sluggish and it will react slightly slower than you would expect in a game of this type, this however does not deminish from the game, it just adjusts your style of playing.
The major flaw in gameplay is the inability to find cover in gunfights, you often find yourself being surrounded by up to ten enemies with no way to fight quicker or hide from gunfire, it can be very frustrating as you find yourself taking lots of damage that you would normally be used to avoiding! Whilst not the end of the world, it can be very annoying and ultimately can sully your gaming experience.
AI is also not the best, whilst they are not stupid they do seem limited in their actions, those being, run, shoot and punch. Ragdoll is nicely done however you can also be slapped around and it can get annoying when you have to wait for the ragdoll animation to finish before you can continue your fight, it can also mean that your opponents can carry on attacking you while you can do nothing at all about it. To help you in your battle you can equip the minicons you find you can equip only four mini-cons at a time (one assigned to each shoulder button), these add different skills, be it added melee bonus's or missiles, sniper rifles or shields.
Graphically the game is very rich and colourful, as I mentioned earlier, levels are vast and well constructed, framerate is high and during the driving sections the game has a noticable motion blur which cuts out any of the possible dips in performance,all in all, its a beautiful game to play and also to watch as a third party!
Sound is ok, the voice of Optimus is very similar to the voice from the old school cartoon and fits in nicely with the other voice talent, musically its nothing special and the lack of ingame statements is limited. Not its strongest area really!
Overall, Transformers is a good fast paced action game, much more like an arcade style game than a long term stratergy shooter, theres a high percentage of replay value to the game and is definately worth a look for all serious action fans and old 80's cartoon fans alike.