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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Luxoflux
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was a very schizophrenic experience for me. As a massive Transformers fan, any time I get the chance to play as a shape-shifting robot is a good one. As a gamer, however, the gameplay left me wanting something more.

Visually, Fallen manages to look great and not so great at the same time. The Transformers look fantastic and are full of tiny details, right down to individual parts moving when they switch modes. Everything else looks a bit bland in comparison. Arenas are flat and not that interesting to look at. There's a lot to blow up and destroy, but even collapsing buildings look at bit stiff.

Peter Cullen and Frank Welker return as the voices for Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively, but the game is also saddled with voicework from Shia LaBeouf. I have nothing against Shia, and his voice adds some authenticity to the game, but his dialogue is outright annoying. The last thing I want to hear while taking on a boss is color commentary like,"See those damage levels? Those are the damage levels of a loser." Megan Fox also lends some vocals, but her screen time is limited to a few uninspired cries for help.

Between missions, your teammates will discuss your progress. I noticed a lot of technical problems during the briefings that hurt the game. Voices will overlap and other will suddenly drop in volume. The story is already hard to follow and the technical issues will likely force you to not care about the story. Subtitles would have helped.

The music is great, but most of the time it is drowned out by battle sounds.


The single-player side of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen loosely follows the plot of the movie. Playing as either the Autobots or Decepticons, you go along with a plot involving a shard of the Allspark and emergence of the Fallen, who is sort of the "true leader" of the Decepticons. The plot is obviously kept as vague a possible to not ruin the plot for people who haven't seen the movie yet, but it's a little too vague.

With the exception of an intro movie and some odd, static-filled map images, it is hard to get a sense of what is going on. Even the mission briefings offer little clarification. The only cool part about the briefings is hearing members discuss your progress. If you're taking too long to complete missions or skipping secondary objectives, they'll comment on it.

The mission structure is much different than the last Transformers game. Its understandable considering the new development team, but the semi-open world structure was one of the things I really liked about the first game. With Fallen, you're given a 5 -6 level set in four geographic regions. Beyond sharing a region, there's little continuity between missions, leading most of them to feel like random arena-style missions similar to the Unreal series. Mission goals usually sound much grander than they really are. Sometimes you'll need to protect and ferry people around the map, but most of the time you're blowing up enemies. It's not a bad thing, but wears thin.

Every mission also includes a set of two secondary missions. When the secondary missions fit within the context of the main mission, they're great. Most of the time, however, they make little sense. Still, secondary missions are a great source of extra Energon, which is used to increase your character's stats.

Missions are also wrapped with a series of challenges. Some involve using a special ability "X" number of times, while others involve pulling off other in-game feats. Completing challenges unlocks a number of extras, ranging from concept art to full-length episodes of the original Generation One series. You can also unlock special character variations for multiplayer.

Multiplayer is easily the best part of the game and more than likely the one aspect that will keep me coming back. The concept behind the mode is brilliant - Counter-Strike with Transformers. Every character has their own role (tank, healer, sniper...) and you'll need to mix-and-match these abilities to win. In addition to Team and solo Deathmatch, there's a variant of Capture the Flag where teams compete for pieces of the Allspark. There's also a control points map, which provided some of the more exciting matches online. Finally there's "One Shall Stand," a protect the leader/ escort variant. The catch is that only the leader can see the opposing team's leader, so he needs to direct his team. If your leader dies, you not only lose sight of the enemy leader, but your ability to respawn. This is a challenging, but incredibly fun mode provided your team works as a team. I was lucky enough to get into an extremely good playgroup, but we'll see if that carries over after launch.


Enemy A.I. is very awkward during combat. You have both melee and ranged combat options, and the A.I. has very different reactions to each. When you attempt to melee an enemy, it will do the smart thing - it transforms and gets out of the way. It's frustrating, but effective. When attacked with ranged attacks, however, enemies have a tendency to stand by, take the damage and go toe-to-toe in a battle of attrition. With most characters, the battle is an easy win. If you can heal or use shields, you have an easy advantage. Snipers have a sizeable advantage once you line up a headshot. On a side note, hearing Optimus Prime yell, "Headshot" is one of the coolest things ever.

Enemies do, however, have a tendency to gang up on you. Even if you get into a one-on-one shooting battle with an enemy, another will inevitably show up and punk you from behind. You do have the advantage of a refilling energy bar, but you'll need to retreat from combat before it refills (unless you have a healing ability). Late in the game, the number of enemies in battle makes retreat difficult.

With the exception of two challenges, you'll likely clear out most of them in one run through. The difficult ones involve lining up two special shots with Megatron's special ability. It's manageable, but for some reason, I can't seem to get the game to recognize that I was able to do it.

Earning medals in missions is the greater than any other challenge you'll face in the game. It's nearly impossible to not snag at least a bronze or silver, but gold and platinum times are tough. Even with a fully upgraded character, I had a hard time meeting the tighter (between 1 - 2 minutes) mission times.

Game Mechanics:

One of the first major hurdles you'll need to clear are the controls - particularly transforming. Instead of pressing a button to switch between modes, you'll need to press and hold the Right Trigger button. From a mechanics standpoint, the setup makes a lot of sense. For one, it doubles as your accelerator and there's rarely a time where you're in vehicle mode and not moving. It also plays into a sort of "quick attack" mechanic.

Pressing one of the face buttons and releasing the Right Trigger performs a special move. Releasing (X) pulls off a melee attack; (B) a ground pound; and (A) a super jump. These are cool and useful, but I found them tricky to pull off. My natural tendency was to release the face button, so I usually ended up clumsily running into a target rather than pulling off a stylish move. I understand the theory behind the mechanic, but wouldn't holding then releasing a face button work better and still be as cool?

I'm also not a big fan of changing buttons mid-mechanic. Normally the Right Trigger is your main attack, but in vehicle form attacks switch to (X). It's not a major deal, but still jarring. Placing transformation and acceleration on the same button also brings up problems during the few times you are trying to slow down and avoid collision. Slightly releasing the button causes you to slow down, but can also cause you to unwillingly switch forms. Pulling the Left Trigger applies brakes, but years of racing games have taught me that brakes are only for hard stops, not slowing down.

The scheme is obviously workable and something you'll adapt to about halfway through one of the two campaigns, but it also seems that some more playability R & D wouldn't have hurt.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a decent game as far as movie tie-ins go. There's a clear direction and I'm sure if it wasn't so tied to the movie's release window, most of the bigger issues could have been worked out. If you're a Transformers fan that is looking for a single-player only experience, Fallen is a rental at best. If you're down for multiplayer, pick it up.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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