Fails to be awesome but remains enjoyable
Written by Super User
Published Wednesday, 22 June 2011 20:00
I’m a sucker for licensed games. Not because they’re the greatest thing the industry has to offer (quite frankly they generally disappoint) but because they’re a easy to play and quick to complete. Sometimes, they boost your Trophy/Achievement count in a matter of hours...Don’t act like you didn’t know!
In the case of the Transformers license, the first titles to come out in the current generation of consoles weren’t that great. Luckily, my thirst for an awesome Transformers adventure was quenched with last year’s hidden gem, War for Cybertron. Granted, that one wasn’t tied to a movie. Still, when Activision revealed that Dark of the Moon’s development duties for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions were given to High Moon Studios, I was anxious to see if they would be able to capitalize on the success of the last game to make this new one just as memorable and amazing to experience. The result? Not bad but far from being incredible...or should I say, less than meets the eye?
The story, which will take just less than eight hours to complete, begins three years after the events of Revenge of the Fallen and sets the board for the events of the upcoming movie. Humans believe the Decepticons are no longer on Earth but despite popular belief, the Autobots and their leader - Optimus Prime - are certain they’re still plotting. Once a transmission gets intercepted, our robots in disguise scour the planet to find and stop Megatron and his acolytes from doing wrong. As War for Cybertron set the standard, the campaign will let you play both sides of this conflict, with each level focusing on a certain character and his combat skills/abilities. Despite the third-person run and gun shooting emphasis, Dark of the Moon throws in an interesting amount of gameplay variation mixing more or less exciting driving and flight sequences. One of the game’s new features - Stealth Force - provides advanced weaponry (two weapons with unlimited ammo) and movement capabilities while in vehicle mode. Unfortunately, while the idea is great, execution and control did not pan out perfectly. Plus, since the game’s environments are much narrowed compared to its predecessor, Stealth Force becomes meaningless and utterly frustrating after a while. Things don’t get much smoother when in full robot or full vehicle mode either. As a robot, movement is rather sluggish and slow and aiming is a bit off, while driving in vehicle form suffers from slippery physics. We’re far from dealing with experience breaking issues but controls could have used some extra refinement and thought.
Visually, the game looks good but not great. This might be in correlation with the fact that we’re no longer beating the crap out of Decepticons (or Autobots depending on your personal allegiance) on the breathtaking and expansive world of Cybertron but on more “generic human” environments like Mayan temples, military bases and urban locations. Fortunately, character renderings, as well as their transformation animations, are well done. Audio wise however, the soundtrack accompanying the action is just as forgettable as the voice-over cast. Actually, the actors hired to lend their voices to the different characters - aside maybe from Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Fred Tatasciore) - are plain terrible compared to the music track. Weapons, explosions...audio effects in general sound great.
Another major complaint resides in the game’s multiplayer component, which took a serious hit compared to War for Cybertron. Both the three-player cooperative play and the Escalation survival modes are no where to be found, leaving Conquest, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch as the sole attractions. The option to choose from four different classes, well-designed maps (just five?) and a character creation feature keeps the online experience from being boring.
Although War for Cybertron fans were in the right to expect a similar epic adventure, its plausible to believe that High Moon Studios didn’t get enough development time to produce this movie tie-in. On the flipside, it seems like the Transformers license is finally in the hands of a competent development studio. Dark of the Moon isn’t a must-own but certainly a solid rental that gets you ready for Michael Bay’s “possible” last Transformer flick.
Release date : 2011-06-14
Publisher : Activision
Developer : High Moon Studios
Gameplay : Action
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