I’m reminded of the stunningly poor execution of Activision’s Spider-Man 3 after playing the movie and game sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Given the numerous complaints the first Transformers game received, one would think Luxoflux would not only put those problems to bed, but create a dynamic, fun, and interesting game this time around. While Spider-Man 3’s terribly executed Quick-Time Events and bosses that mysteriously seep through ceilings don’t cause the annoyances, the coarse, control-unfriendly sequel provides Transformer kiddies with a slew of new issues that drag the fun out of it.
Based on the second Transformers movie directed by action-blowhard Michael Bay, Revenge of the Fallen, the game, guts the admittedly slim movie narrative and gives you a robot puppet show instead. If you dig idle robots standing around gesticulating in their headquarters (like robots!), you’re in like sin. But for those of you who like, at the very least, a thin veneer of story to tickle our brains, you’re shit out of luck.
All of this isn’t a surprise, as movie-based games are notoriously crappy. But one always has hope, as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and GoldenEye 007 have shown us IT CAN BE DONE. And in my preview, I thought I witnessed snazzy, unique game mechanics and character variety. But alas, I might have been caught up in the optimistic current of hope that movies games can be good.
Revenge of the Fallen isn’t a terrible game, but it fails to deliver the mechanical power and atypical strengths of the Hasbro-based line of toys turned Saturday morning cartoon phenom 20-plus years ago. As they continue their ongoing battle on Earth for the remaining Allspark chip, the game smartly offers you to the chance to play as Autobots or Decepticons in entirely different campaign paths. On the Autobot side, you can play as Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Breakaway, Bumblebee, Ratchet, and two multiplayer exclusive Transformers, Aerialbot and Protectobot. The playable Decepticons are Starscream, Sideways, Grindor, Long Haul, Megatron, and the multiplayer exclusive character, Seeker. But you rarely get the chance to select robot you want; more often than not you’re restrained to one or two picks, even though you can cycle through the entire list at the menu screen. The missions lack variety and ultimately slow your brain down to a numbingly low sputter as they become repetitive. But they’re not lacking In punch, as you can essentially blow up everything on screen.
The game’s most pressing quandary is its controls; they get in the way. Driving an Autobot is stiff and awkward at best and transforming is an invitation to repetitive strain injury. It is possible to get over these issues if you’re just dying to play a Transformers game at whatever cost. You can adjust and deal with them. But nobody can rightly admit they’re smooth, intuitive, or smart. So, if you’re on the borderline, or only partially interested, you’ll be trading this in quickly. Coupled with Twinkies cream filling for missions, and a false sense of choice in picking your robots, Revenge of the Fallen earns a new sense of irony about it.
The multiplayer mode is the game’s strange surprise. The first game lacked a multiplayer mode, do Luxoflux attacked that issue by offering five modes of play and somehow, I’m really not sure how exactly, making the game more fun. Playing against other humans gives this a needed shot of fun and diversity, and adds a little to what could be a quick trade-in.
For what it’s worth, I also played the PS2 version. Because the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions superficially appear superior with their millions of dials, moving parts, and radar load screens, and their beautiful re-creations of the movie robots, the stripped down, base-level PS2 version, with its budget graphics and narrow, linear levels, is actually a more honest–and ultimately more fun–game.