Friday, July 31, 2009

Video Game Review: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen PS360

REVIEW: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360by: TriPredRavage
Let’s face it; movie games have a bad rep. It’s true! They not only have to capture the experience of the film, but they have to expand upon it in order to make a completely fulfilling game. And very rarely, has this formula worked out. Now Revenge of the Fallen steps up to the plate.

The game follows the basic plot of the movie… sort of. Normally when a game enters into this realm of playing for both sides, it is to be able to tell a complete story. However, the Autobot and Decepticon campaigns actually have nothing to do with one another. This somewhat makes for having two distinct narratives, but the result is more like two incomplete stories.

Both stories start off in Shanghai where they encounter enemy forces. They then quickly move to other parts of the world such as the West and East Coasts of the States, the middle of the Ocean, and then Egypt.

And that’s about it. The story isn’t very deep and short of the opening cinematic and the story ending cinematics, there are virtually no cinematics to speak of. Before each mission you will see the team members standing around talking about the mission at hand. After each mission, they are all shown again discussing what has happened, and then several more little conversations ensue based upon how well you did in the mission.

Like I’ve said, both storylines are rather choppy. For example (spoiler alert!): in the Decepticon campaign, Megatron and Optimus set to fight in a crowded city. The result: Megatron kills Optimus. However, in the climactic battle between Megatron Flight Mode and the Fallen, Optimus is communicating with Megatron via his comm-link without any explanation as to how Optimus was revived. I thought this issue would be covered in the Autobot campaign, but as it turns out Optimus doesn’t even die in the Autobot storyline. So, his revival remains a mystery.

Playable Autobots: Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Breakaway, and Powered-Up Optimus Prime (last level only)
Playable Decepticons: Starscream, Long Haul, Sideways, Grindor, Megatron, and Megatron Flight Mode (last level only)
Several other characters make appearances, but are, sadly, unplayable.

Each Autobot and Decepticon has their own unique play style, while each retains a role to fill. Ironhide and Grindor are weapons specialists who can plant gun-turrets to do their dirty work. Breakaway and Sideways are snipers. Ratchet and Long Haul are healers, etc… Now, despite these common roles, each character is their own due to certain abilities, such as flight, or their individual weapons. There really is a character for every type of play style in this game, and everyone should find at least one character they are comfortable playing as.

One of the problems with the game is the ability to play as characters in specific levels. Starting off each mission, you can only play as a select few characters per zone. By performing certain tasks, the other members of the teams become unlocked to be played in these zones. These tasks are easy enough to accomplish, but I would have preferred just being able to choose my character from the start, as some of the game’s decisions on who is appropriate are completely off, such as Bumblebee versing Devastator.

However, the level Deep Six, which takes place over the ocean on military ships, only allows characters with the ability of flight to participate. While this is understandable, they only permit Starscream, Grindor, and Breakaway to participate. It would have been nice if after completing the stories to have Optimus’ and Megatron’s flight modes be added to the roster of previous levels, but this was an oversight.

Also, I take issue with the character Breakaway. Flight characters naturally have a “hit and run” appeal to them, but Breakaway is the Autobot sniper. Getting him to a secure place to snipe is difficult and he isn’t very strong in any other form of combat. Because of this mix-and-match of flight and snipe, he feels like a character with an identity crisis.

There are a handful of unlockable bonus content in Revenge of the Fallen, including G1 and alternate color palettes for characters as well as classic G1 episodes to view. These features are nice and I couldn’t help but play in the alternate colors of characters every chance I had.

This game also marks the first time that a Transformers game has true online multiplayer. That said, the online isn’t really all that spectacular. Matches pretty much result in what fights from the old cartoons were, where it’s merely two forces duking it out, and there really isn’t much to offer. Decepticons seem to have a substantial advantage considering most of their ranks can fly, and this made all of the matches I played rather one-sided.

Let’s talk graphics. The graphics are nice, but I can’t help but feel that they aren’t up to stuff. I played the PlayStation 3 version of the game, and I must admit that while in gameplay the graphics look fine, they really aren’t anything to write home about. The locals feature the dark and gritty browns and grays that have become synonymous with games of today. Ultimately I feel that the Transformers game for the PlayStation 2 still has the best graphics of all TF games.

The voice acting is strong considering that a majority of the voices are provided by the movie actors. The exceptions include Megatron, Soundwave, the Fallen, and Jetfire. Megatron I can understand as he was once again played by Frank Welker, but I can’t figure out why he didn’t play Soundwave as he did in the film. Likewise, Mark Ryan played Bumblebee like he did in the first film, but did not play Jetfire’s game counterpart as he did in the film. Nevertheless, the game features great voice talent. Along with the majority of the film actors, the game also features Neil Kaplan, Fred Tatasciore, and John DiMaggio.

Truly, my only complaint with the voices of this game is that the Decepticon voices are very synthesized. Starscream’s voice, in fact, is so synthesized that he sounds exactly like Sky-Byte from Transformers: Robots in Disguise, despite that they are played by two completely different actors.

Finally, the controls. The game features a very unique control scheme with the face buttons being dedicated to different attacks and abilities, and the shoulder buttons being set to Transforming and firing weapons. This gets confusing as in order to access weapon mode, you must first hold down the L2 button to enter weapons mode, and then fire with the R2 button. However, the R2 button is also the Transform trigger, and when in the heat of combat, trying to enter weapons mode quickly can result in accidentally Transforming. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but in the end, the controls work out.

I know this review doesn’t make the best of the game, but it’s hard to ignore all of its shortcomings. Despite these, the game actually is quite fun and enjoyable. It’s just far too short and doesn’t offer as much as we would have hoped, or even as much as the developers had claimed. I probably would have been more forgiving if it wasn’t a fully priced game.

That said, is Revenge of the Fallen a complete game: no. Did it leave me wanting more: yes. Did I enjoy playing it: yes. Does it have a healthy dose of bonus content: yes. All in all, I recommend the game, but ONLY when the game’s price tag drops down to about $20. It’s the only way you will truly find the buried treasure in this sandbox.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Video Game Review: Transformers PS2

REVIEW: Transformers for PlayStation 2by: TriPredRavage
I think by now it’s safe to say that, while the Unicron Trilogy provided us with some great toys and a series to watch, the show plots weren’t all that spectacular. Which brings us to this game.

This game was delayed several times before its release, even being delayed for about a year after its original proposed release date. I can actually remember seeing a behind the scenes for the making of this game in a movie theater once. But I must say, it was worth the wait. This was the first Transformers game to do it right.

The game took only the essentials from Transformers: Armada and put them to work. This being Transformer designs, the Mini-Cons, and Unicron.

The game begins by showing the Mini-Cons escape from Cybertron and landing on Earth. We then move to Cybertron where a battle is raging and Optimus is getting whooped. This is also where we get our first classic Transformers quote spoken by David Kaye’s Armada Megatron “I would have waited an eternity for this.” A beacon then arrives from the Mini-Cons that Megatron tracks the origin of back to Earth. The Autobots and Decepticons then take their leave to Earth in order to retrieve them.

Each Mini-Con obtained can be equipped as a different weapon for your Autobot, as well as having their signature Mini-Con partner from the Armada cartoon that can Powerlinx to add power to attacks, but at the cost of draining the Autobot’s health.

Once all drop zones are completed, the Autobots return to Cybertron to defeat Unicron. The Mini-Cons Powerlinx together to form a flight-pack and cannon for the played Autobot to stand a chance against Unicron.

The game features three playable Autobots: Optimus Prime, Hotshot, and Red Alert. Several Decepticons make appearances as bosses, including: Megatron, Starscream, Cyclonus, Tidal Wave, and of course, Unicron himself.

The level designs are huge and a player can easily get lost along the way. Each level has several Space Bridge ports that act as checkpoints and ways back to the Autobot hanger to change Mini-Cons and played Autobot. Overall, the levels feature a “point A to point B” feel, with a starting point and destination to be reached.

All that said, we now get to the nitty-gritty.

This game is beautiful and features what I think are some of the best graphics the PS2 had/has to offer. The cinematic graphics are so clean and clear, the locations and robots look real, which is quite the feat for the time. The gameplay graphics are just a step below them with the reduction in quality being rather negligible.

The game also features the best rag-doll physics I have ever seen in a videogame. I know that sounds like a rather irrelevant thing to say, but it actually provides some strange entertainment to the game.

Everything is vivid and vibrant in this game. The colors are bright, the locations are expansive and detailed, and at no point is there any location that has the dark brown and grey of today’s games. Even the inside of a Decepticon aircraft carrier, which is later revealed to be Tidal Wave, is vibrant and exciting.

The voice acting in this game is great. Some veterans return, such as Garry Chalk and David Kaye reprising their roles of Optimus and Megatron respectively, as well as Daran Norris (voice of RiD Heavy Load) returning to Transformers as Red Alert, while others feature new voices to the Transformes franchise. Nonetheless, the acting is strong and the characters are played well.

There are also several scenes of homage to other Transformers titles within the game. Several characters speak classic lines, while Megatron’s death in the game is very familiar to Galvatron’s demise in Armada.

Sadly, the game does feature its incredibly small roster and only features Autobot gameplay. I personally would have at least liked to have seen Armada Jetfire enter the fray, but I understand that it would have taken away from when the Mini-Con who gives the glide ability is introduced. Of course, they could have introduced Jetfire instead of this Mini-Con, but I digress. I can excuse not being able to play as the Decepticons, but it would have been nice to have a little more variety on the Autobots’ side.

Finally, the game has an incredible amount of bonus content. From video players, to music players, to production models and concept art, it has it all. It even features classic G1 public service announcements that I found to be some of the best bonus content in the game. It’s a very fulfilling experience.

I wholeheartedly believe that this is the best Transformers game to date. Transformers games of today should be building off of this game, rather than experimenting with other things. Yes it has its FEW shortcomings, but the game itself is a great experience. You got a lot of bang for your buck and nowadays it’s even cheaper. If you passed on this game and ever thought about purchasing it, do so. Especially with its reduced price due to its five years of age, you will not be disappointed.

Next time, we move to the sandbox…

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video Game Review: Beast Wars Transmetals N64

REVIEW: Transformers: Beast Wars; Transmetals for Nintendo 64by: TriPredRavage
Seeing as this game’s story is the same as the PS1 version, let’s get straight to the specifics.

Once again, we have eight playable characters, four per team.

Playable Maximals include: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, and Airazor.
Playable Predacons include: Megatron, Tarantulus, Waspinator, and Terrorsaur.

You can play through the story mode as any individual character rather than character selecting before each match, similar to a typical Arcade fighter. Provided you defeat arcade mode without any continues, you will face the ultimate boss, Megatron X, who is essentially just Transmetal Megatron with some wings tacked on. But don’t let the appearance fool you. He’s a beast coming in with twice as much health as you or any of the previous challengers, and easily has the strongest moves in the game.

This game is set to be in replacement of season two of the show, so Megatron’s ending ends with him successfully destroying Optimus Prime and the Maximals no longer existing. Interestingly enough, the game poses an unforeseen circumstance of Megatron’s plan which basically said: with Optimus Prime dead, no one took the Matrix, so in 2005 when Unicron arrived, who stood up to him?” Good question! Guess Megatron didn’t really think that one out…

This game is also a fighter, but it isn’t an over-the-head fighter like its PS1 counterpart. Instead, it plays in a “fighting cobras” sideview format, but the characters can freely roam amongst a 3D plane. This pretty much results in characters running in circles trying to shoot one another. It’s not exactly the best design.

This game also includes secret characters that are unlocked through holding certain buttons while selecting a character. These characters include: Tigatron, Ravage, Blackarachnia, and Starscream. The thing about these characters, however, is that while in the PS1 version the secret characters were at least designed to look like their show/figure counterparts, the N64 versions are merely different colors. For example, Ravage looks just like Cheetor, only in black and grey with a Decepticon symbol on his chest and Ravage’s voice.

An interesting note is how many alternate color schemes the characters have in this game. The majority of them have four alternate colors, of which several seem to be dedicated to G1 and other characters:

Cheetor features a Transmetal Tigatron skin predating Tigatron’s Botcon Transmetal figure in addition to the secret characters Tigatron and Ravage.
Rattrap again features his blue Wal-Mart exclusive colors that were later dubbed Transmetal Packrat, but he also features a pallet that makes him look like his non-Transmetal form.
Airazor features a largely pink and white color scheme reminiscent of Arcee, and then also features a primarily black scheme that, if the imagination is stretched, could pass as a reference to Nightbird.
Megatron features a color scheme that may or may not have later inspired that of Armada Predacon.
Waspinator, in addition to his non-Transmetal appearance for Starscream, also features his Fox Kids yellow and black color scheme.
Terrorsaur also features a color scheme that may have inspired a later figure’s appearance as Beast Machines Dinobot Terranotron.

This is interesting because while the game was on the Nintendo 64, which was capable of having four players at once, the game does not feature four player multi-play. This means that these colors are virtually just under glorified swag, but are appreciated nonetheless.

This brings me to the graphics. The PlayStation One version’s graphics were pretty much on par with a lot of other PS1 titles. They were blocky and kind of awkward, but they looked like the characters. The Nintendo 64 version, on the other had, uses more round and natural seeming graphics, but again, past the original cast of characters, they didn’t put any design into the secret characters other than changing their colors and voices. So it’s hard to say which version has better graphics, as such obviously different focuses were taken in each version.

This version of the game features less bonus content than that of the PS1 version. They have a “toy mode” which I assume is to be similar to the toy gallery of the PS1 version, but rather than have a gallery of toy images, they let you look at the 3D models of the game characters in 360 degrees. This version also hosts a handful of mini-games, but they aren’t anything that will keep you playing for hours on end.

It does, however, feature a “Kid Mode” that is entertaining to say the least. The characters all appear as super-deformed, meaning they have tiny bodies and big heads, and the voices have been tweaked to be high pitched. It can offer a few laughs, but the gameplay is ultimately the same as the standard arcade and versus modes.

Overall, the game is okay, but I think the PlayStation One version was a stronger game. This one, however, was originally a Blockbuster exclusive title, so it wasn’t actually purchasable at the time of its release. However, nowadays you can find it on eBay and in collector shops for around seven to ten dollars. So, if you want a classic Transformers title, or a cheap exclusive that once was not purchasable, then it’s not an expensive endeavor, but it certainly won’t be the best game you’ve ever played.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Video Game Review: Beast Wars Transmetals PS1

REVIEW: Transformers: Beast Wars; Transmetals for PlayStation One
by: TriPredRavage
The story goes that in season three of the television show, When Megatron is captured, he sends a message back in time to himself just before the season finale events of season one. As a result, events happen differently with Rhinox, Waspinator, and Airazor all becoming Transmetal, and Terrorsaur also surviving to become Transmetal as well. And with that, the Beast Wars rage on.

This brings us to the game. Once again, the player may choose which faction to play as, and each team once again has their own storyline. Each team has four playable characters for the story mode.

Playable Maximals include: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, and Silverbolt.
Playalbe Predacons include: Megatron, Tarantulus, Rampage, and Quickstrike.

The Maximal storyline begins with the Maximal base being attacked by the Predacons. Optimus decides that this is a good opportunity to reclaim the Golden Disc, and the Maximals then dispatch to fight against the waves of Predacons. Once the Maximals push the Predacons back to their base, a battle against Megatron ensues. Once defeated, Megatron reveals that the Predacons have successfully infiltrated the Maximal base in their absence. Megatron then escapes and the Maximals realize they need to get back to the Axalon.

The Predacon storyline begins with the Predacons discussing their latest plans to conquer the Maximals. After some bickering, they dispatch. Once the Predacons have defeated the waves of Maximals and have successfully defeated the final opponent, Optimus Primal, the Predacons are shown standing around him demanding he surrenders. Rhinox then activates Sentinel’s Auto-Guns and the Predacons flee defeated.

Not exactly ground-breaking storytelling, but enjoyable enough in its own right.

This game seemed to take everything that was wrong with the last one and then decided to do it right. The game featured a majority of the show voice actors to play their characters, with the only voice actors not returning as far as the story was concerned being Rhinox, Quickstrike, and Blackarachnia.

This game featured four secret characters to be unlocked in versus mode.

Secret Maximals include: Non-Transmetal Tigatron and Botcon Exclusive Windrazor
Secret Predacons include: Transmetal II Blackarachnia and Ravage.

While these characters are merely simple clones of Cheetor (Tigatron and Ravage), Silverbolt (Windrazor), and Tarantulus (Blackaracnia), it was still nice to see them join the fray. I would have liked to have seen Rhinox, Waspinator, Terrorsaur, and Airazor in this game, seeing as Tigatron, Silverbolt, Quickstrike, and Windrazor aren’t even Transmetals, but like I said, it was still nice to see their inclusion.

Gameplay-wise, the game is your basic fighter. You have two characters duke it out in a 3D field with certain natural hazards to add a little chaos to the mix. All characters play the same way with the only variations occurring in the characters ultimate techniques. The only other true variety is that Quickstrike and Rattrap have the unique ability to burrow underground.

The game also made interesting use of the “second player” color schemes giving Cheetor his red Fox Kids exclusive figure colors, and Rattrap his blue Wal-Mart exclusive colors that later became known as Transmetal Packrat. Megatron also features a primarily purple second color scheme that seems to be inspired by his non-Transmetal appearance.

The game features a ton of bonus material: from picture and cinematic viewers, to music track players. There are pictures of the cinematic versions of the characters that let you get good looks at all the little details of the characters. There is also a gallery of toy images included that strangely enough includes the Japanese exclusive Transmetal Ravage figure (X-9 Jaguar), which was how I first found out about the figure’s existence.

Like I said, this game seemed to take everything that was wrong with the first Beast Wars game and fix them. It then went ahead and turned the game into a fighter rather than a platformer. While it's certainly not the best game I’ve ever played, I still thoroughly enjoyed this game. If you are considering looking into it on eBay, I’d recommend it as it is just a fun game to play.

If you are looking for a declaration like last time where I admit something about Transformers: Animated’s game being better than this, you’re in the wrong place. Not because it isn’t necessarily true, but because the games are completely different genres, I can’t really say which is better. I could admit TFA’s greatness over the first Beast Wars game because they are both platformers, but in this case, I say they both do their series justice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Transformers: Beast Wars PS1/PC Review

REVIEW: Transformers: Beast Warsby: TriPredRavage
In what is probably the worst adaptation of a show to videogame conversion I have ever seen, we have Transformers: Beast Wars for the PlayStation and PC. The game starts up with an opening cinematic featuring clips from season one of the Beast Wars TV show which does nothing to outline the events of anything other than “the robots fight.” No back-story, no explanations, nothing.

You begin the game and for what I believe is the first time in Transformers Videogame history, you could choose your faction to play as. Each team starts with four playable characters, with a fifth unlockable as you play through. A sixth character is also available, but only for flight missions to rescue a “captured” character.

Playable Maximals include: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rhinox, Dinobot, and Rattrap.
Flight Mission Maximals include: Optimus Primal and Airazor.

Playable Predacons include; Megatron, Scorponok, Tarantulus, Inferno, and Blackarachnia.
Flight Mission Predacons include: Inferno and Terrorsaur.

The story mode consists of several zones with three parts to each zone. The third part features a boss fight against a show character. A chunk of back-story is provided before each zone part and that’s about the most of it. Throughout the individual parts, you fight random creatures (such as slugs, raptors, and monsters), as well as drones deployed by the other faction.

The final zone features a boss fight with the other faction’s team leader and once defeated, the game is completed. Another bout of show clips ensues where the team leader speaks over them, Optimus thanks his crew for assisting him in defeating the Predacons, Megatron talks about how he’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Now that the summary is out of the way, here comes the review.

Controlling the characters is pretty good with some minor flaws. Jumping from platform to platform is tricky and for the most part suicidal, but it has to be done to continue the game. Each character has different stats and it’s easy to find one that adjusts well to your play style. And that’s pretty much all there is good about the game. So here comes the bad…

To start things off, the TV show voice cast has been replaced in this game by some of the worst voice actors I have ever heard. I’d almost be willing to go so far as to bet that the voice actors were actually just people who worked around the office who made the game and decided to do the voices themselves. They did us the courtesy of attempting to imitate how the TV show characters’ voices were performed, but the end result is just painful.

The PlayStation version is incredibly fast paced, and I’m not talking the good kind of fast paced. The game is so fast that you can hear a shot go off and in the same instant you are hit by it. Then you are left scrambling to find what is shooting at you. The game features a lock‑on feature that is touchy to say the least. You must be facing directly at the opponent to be locked‑on; otherwise you are going to be plastered by enemy fire.

Level designs are complicated and confusing. They are also dark and gritty in what appears to be a precursor to videogames of today with everything being brown and grey. It’s easy to get lost amongst the ridiculous level designs.

In order to start a flight mission to rescue a captured character, you have to beat a level after collecting three macguffins. Problem is, you can’t die as you’ll have to start all over again. Also, when a character dies, they become captured as well, so get ready for a long haul.

The game also tried to incorporate the Energon fields of the show, but it did more than create an inconvenience. Refilling the Energon resistance bar is slow going and nearly impossible, so if you don’t just trek the levels in Beast Modes, you are pretty much screwed by the time you get to the boss fights.

The PC version of the game featured online multiplayer play, but I never got to try it as my computer was so slow that taking two steps forward could take the better part of ten minutes.

All in all, it’s a terrible game. My parents got me the PC version when I was about seven and I later purchased my PlayStation version for seven dollars on eBay. If you were considering on picking it up because you missed it, pass. It’s really not worth it unless you are absolutely diehard… like me…

People have been wanting me to admit that Transformers: Animated is better than Beast Wars was for a long time now. And while as far as the shows go, I still think Beast Wars is superior, I will wholeheartedly admit that the Transformers: Animated game for the Nintendo DS is far superior to this Beast Wars game.