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Reviewed: Transformers Dark of the Moon
Author:Michael Ahlf
So I've finally had the chance to sit down and try out Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Let me tell you, wrapping my head round this one isn't easy.

For starters, the movie was... better than either of the first two had given it hope to be. But at the end of the day, it was yet another Michael Bay flick, and that meant way too much focus on humans and way too little focus on the real characters of the story: the Autobots and Decepticons. And it is also still way, way too difficult to tell the damn Decepticons apart from each other.

When you can't tell your primary antagonists apart, and are constantly confused as to whether that's Shockwave, or Starscream, or Megatron... bad.

As for the game, the control system's definitely a step up from previous ones. Robot form, Vehicle, and the "third form" of a "stealth mode" (basically, vehicle with sideslip capabilities and bristling with weapons). It's not a bad thing, and definitely not harmful to the game's interests, but... this one just can't hold up to what it needs to do.

Most of the time, you're stuck with blasting guns at range. Want a melee attack? That'll burn your character's "special attack" and needs a recharge meter before it's available again, or if you're Mirage, then you'll just cloak out and have no melee options at all, except for the section where that's all they will give him. The rest of the time, you can run up to enemy Decepticons and blast them with one of two selectable weapons, but god forbid you just want to punch them. In full vehicle mode, no combat abilities at all. In hybrid "stealth mode", you've got your most powerful punch... which pretty much made me wonder after a while why anyone would even use the robot mode, given that "stealth mode" was just as maneuverable and packed a bigger punch and better armor.

In terms of level design, you're basically looking at a corridor simulator, with the occasional set of roof jumps to navigate. Jump into vehicle mode, run down the "street", pause to shift into stealth mode to blast faceless enemy mooks, run down the "street" to the next waypoint... let's face it, these levels are just downright BORING.

To make things worse, Dark of the Moon offers up the same problem War for Cybertron had, shifting the movie-prologue storyline back and forth between Autobots and Decepticons. As Autobots, you spend a lot of time blasting faceless Decepticon mooks. As Decepticons, you spend a lot of time blasting faceless Autobot mooks. The same goes for the online campaign, which is basically a re-tread of the Call-Of-Duty-With-Robots nonsense that was The War For Cybertron: barely good for a few hours before most players will probably give up on it.

With Dark of the Moon, Activision had a real chance here. They had an actual story that could have spanned a number of different eras of Transformers lore. They had a movie storyline that could have been really turned into something unique. Instead, what they shipped out for unwary consumers was yet another entry in the same barely-action game genre that's been eating away at the Transformers license for years.

The verdict: leave this one on the shelves, unless it's going into your never-been-opened-but-100%-complete Transformers merchandise collection right next to the Unicron halloween mask.

Added:  Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf


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