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Transformers Prime

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: NowProduction
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

Save for some smooth edges where jaggies would have been, Transformers Prime looks like a Wii game. Nearly everything you see seems to advertise how little the game engine can take. There's an awful lot of wide open space nearly everywhere, and for a license that's as mayhem-dependent as Transformers, that just doesn't cut it. Sure, the Autobots and Decepticons are colorful as they should be, but the visual attractiveness ends there. Animations fail to impress, especially if you've played High Moon's Cybertron games.

Transformers Prime sounds just fine. I expected to be annoyed throughout, as most of the acting in anything Transformers-related is pure camp. Peter Cullen's deep, heroic baritone is unmistakable, though his one-liners are eye-rollers. Frank Welker doesn't reprise his role as Megatron, and it's obvious. Instead, the voice actor offers his own interpretation, and it's mostly forgettable. I expected the Autobots' human friends to annoy me to no end, and to my surprise, they didn't. Of course, the game isn't really long enough for them to really get irritating, so maybe that's a plus. The music is inoffensive and unremarkable; if you close your eyes and listen, it could fit just about anything that involves heroes.


Gameplay:

Transformers Prime runs through the Transformers checklist for storytelling. Autobots? Check. Decepticons? Check. Insecticons? Check. Energon? Check. Mash them together and you get pissed-off robots who are chomping at the bit to reduce their foes to scrap metal. There's not much to speak of when it comes to narrative, but come on, there never really was in this series. You just want to see robots smash each other into junk heaps.

If that's what you're in for, Transformers Prime will leave you with mixed feelings. I appreciate what the developers attempted with this game, as it's the direct opposite of what the developers of War for and Fall of Cybertron did. This game does more than one thing; it tries to mix it up. In my opinion, it fails to get any particular facet right, but the effort is easy to appreciate. I'll get into more detail in the mechanics section.

Structurally, Prime is split into a series of missions featuring different Autobots. Some of these missions might have you simply progressing from area to area, beating up Decepticons and Insecticons and completing some extremely simple platforming. Others will have you utilizing an Autobot's vehicle form in a mad dash to safety. My favorite occurs midway through the game, as Bumblebee navigates his way through a labyrinthine dungeon.


Difficulty:

Transformers Prime is a simple game. Some simple games aren't in the least bit easy to play, but this one is. Each of your hero bots has its own set of similar melee and projectile moves. Once you master one, you'll be able to play with the rest of them with no problems whatsoever.

The hardest parts of Transformers Prime are the ones in which you must steer using the Wii U GamePad. Response time is delayed, and in some cases, this can mean the difference between driving on solid ground and straight into a chasm. It's frustrating, but not unworkable.


Game Mechanics:

Transformers Prime has a standard control scheme that works fairly well with the Wii U GamePad, save for the aforementioned finicky motion controls. Unlike in War for and Fall of Cybertron, the melee combat actually has impact. Unfortunately, the shooting really doesn't. Whenever your enemies transform into modes that allow greater mobility, all you really need to do is strafe and hold that trigger down. Another thing that needs to be taken into account is a special meter that fills as you fight. Once it's filled, you can flip out and do extra damage for a limited amount of time.

It wouldn't be a Transformers game if you couldn't transform. Switching to vehicle form is simple, and there are some great melee attacks that can be chained to transformations. The shield breaker attack is one such ability. Of course, you've got projectile weapons and your own bulk to swing around. That's right, crashing into your foes is a viable strategy!

Transformers Prime has some good ideas, but they are all buried rather deep in a game that is neither terribly fun nor long enough to be properly invested in. It's extremely short and doesn't really have any staying power. It's worth a rental at the very least, and at the very most.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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