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.

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