One day, just one day...someone will come along and get a movie game right. The Riddick game was close, proving that it's possible. Transformers, was not, it was a pretty bad game and now we're faced with the sequel. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
The Decepticons are back again and the game follows the plot of the movie, taking certain liberties where it must for the sake of gameplay and the obligatory shoe-horning of movie stuff into the game. The chances are though; you're not playing this game for an Oscar winning performance or brilliant story.
It's a third person action game which has you battling on either the side of the Autobots or the Decepticons. There are two stories to play and the controls are pretty solid, they're not great but once you get used to them you'll find that you can shoot, drive, fly and climb all whilst transforming into your favourite Transformer. There are certain combos to be learned and spamming the right kind of attack will bring you to victory more often than not. You'll have various objectives along the way but most of the game can be broken down into, smash Decepticons or Autobots in a repetitive style of gameplay that is indicative of such games.
The good news is that the game plays well; it's just shallow in terms of mission objectives and types. It suffers from the typical movie game tie in development and has a few annoying missions.
The Transformers look the part and they are well designed, the actual humanoid characters aren't as well done and it just feels as though the game is a little rushed in certain areas, no doubt to speed up release to tie in with the movie and so on. Just look at the mess that was Terminator Salvation for instance or the previous Iron Man movie game. I know we often beat a dead horse with those two, but they are stellar examples of what not to do when making a game based on a film. They both suffer from a lack of polish in the graphics department.
Bland cityscapes, uninspiring design and poorly thought out battle arenas are a couple of the things wrong with the game's level design. The open city is large enough but whilst there's some amount of fun to be had climbing and battling around and through the city, it never really shines.
Fortunately the game gets this right, on the Transformers. The various transformation sequences are well implemented and you can pull them off at any time, they look and feel good. The rest of the animation is fairly decent and there's nothing apart from the transformation sequences that stands out here.
There's a sense of weight and mass to the objects and to the hits you can perform. The physics could have been better implemented with a wider level of destructive effects and to add an epic feel to the battles.
The AI isn't too bad, it can sometimes get stuck for a few moments and then work out where it wants to go. The enemy Transformers are capable of using special attacks and transformations in combat; they make for some fun boss fights.
The game has some good music and the score fits in nicely with it, it's suitably dramatic and epic at the right moments.
The sound design in the game is good, the sound effects and so on are well implemented and there's nothing that seems to be out of place. We caught a couple of audio glitches with some of the explosions but nothing game breaking.
Voice and Dialogue
The voice work in the game varies from downright terrible to decent. Peter Cullen provides a suitable voice for Optimus since that has always been his role. The recording for his voice drowns out a lot of the others though and someone in the recording studio didn't quite normalize that particular recording, it causes you to constantly adjust the sound on your TV. The Autobots and Decepticons play their parts well. The human cast don't. For two professional Hollywood actors, both human protagonists are utterly rubbish. They sound like they come from the Costner school of acting. The script is just as bad.
This is oddly enough where the game shines, in 4v4 (8 player) Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch or the take on the team leader gametype seen in games like Rainbow Six Vegas 2 or Gears 2. Both teams have a team leader and can respawn indefinitely, until their leader dies...then they won't respawn once killed. It's a simple but fun style of gameplay.
That's the best way to describe Revenge of the Fallen in multiplayer too, simple but fun. It won't knock the market leaders off the top but it might provide a few hours of distraction whilst waiting for the next Call of Duty game or something else with a solid multiplayer component to come along.
One day we'll see a good movie tie in that ties in directly with the film, this isn't it however. It lacks the longevity and polish of many games and basically appears as a 'seen it all before' game that will appeal to fans but other gamers will play it, finish it and then probably trade it in.
Perhaps renting is a better option.