Transformers! More than meets the eye. Transformers! Robots in Disguise. Folks that were kids throughout the 1980's remember that jingle to this day and its send chills of nostalgia up their spines. The Transformers were an icon in American Pop Culture and many of us were thrilled to see them brought to life in the first movie and game. The movie was great and so was the game, but the game had some flaws and major elements missing that just didn't make it top notch. Don't get me wrong, it was still a fun game to blow crap up and fight as your favorite Transformer from childhood.
So fast forward to 2009. We have a new movie and a new game to coincide with the movie's release. Both have huge expectations to live up to. Well, this isn't a movie review site so, I won't get into the movie aspect of things but rather of course focus on the game. Enter in game #2, Transformers: Rise of the Fallen. I am not going to go into the meaning of the title to much as it directly relates to the movie and game plot. Some things that were lacking in the first game was online multiplayer, ability to transform on the fly from robot to vehicle and back with a simple button press, and the game camera needed a lot of adjustments. There were other minor things that avid Transformers fans found wrong with the game, but lets chalk those up to more cosmetic than game hindering.
Graphically the game is great. The Transformer detail of each and every character is perfect and displayed beautifully on screen. The environments can be a little dull at times and repetitive in the city landscapes but with all the explosions and battles taking place you'll be quick to overlook this. The hud overlay for the game is done well and does not detract from gameplay at all. You'll have radar on screen as well as your health and special ability bar. These are tucked away in the corner of the screen and do not interfere as I said. Some of the cinematic cut scenes seemed almost movie like and I found myself watching all of them, not only for the storyline but because they were well done. The menu system is easy to navigate and you'll actually be located in a ?War Room? where you will be briefed on each mission and have the ability to make upgrades, see unlockables, view leader boards, etc. All the conversations that take place in this war room are directly related to your performance in each mission.
The sounds are mostly the original cast from the movie and the voice over work is well done. You'll notice even Bumble Bee has a voice in the game which made me quite happy. The transformation noise is distinctive and right on the money as well. Some of the weapon sounds or vehicle sounds can be a bit on the generic side of things at times, but then again most of these are sounds are coming from mindless drones anyhow.
Overall the control system is not terrible, but it could be better yet. The ability to transform from robot to vehicle and back with the simple pull and release of the right trigger is great. Nothing like jumping off a building as Starscream and transforming into a jet in mid air. Or maybe running down the road as Iron Hide and leaping right into truck form without losing a step. So simple! The aiming system seems to have been tweaked quite a bit as well and for the most part works well throughout the game. There are still times that the control system and the camera system do not quite work hand in hand, but its less prevalent than it was in the first game. Overall the whole control scheme seems to be simplified yet complicated at the same time. There are many multiple button combinations to perform special abilities such as hover, ground pounds, etc. But all of which can be mastered by even the most novice gamer. While a lot of the control system seems overwhelming I had found with some time put into the game that it actually wasn't a bad system at all. One thing that did seem difficult was the driving aspect of things. You could seem to get lost very easily with the speed of the game whether in the air or on the ground and I would have liked to seen a better system in place with that regards.
So first things first. Our new game brings us online multiplayer. Thats right, you'll be headed on to Xbox Live and play as either a Decepticon or an Autobot. You can play as a Decepticon on the Autobot side and vice versa, but the host of the match can set the Faction option to on meaning you can only play as the same faction of the team you are assigned to be on. There are 15 playable characters online across 5 game modes. I was informed at E3 by one of the games producers that downloadable content was planned and while he would not give specifics, he did say it could come in the form of game modes, more Transformers and maps. So lets hope for all 3!
Let's just give a quick brief rundown of the online game modes. First off we have your typical death match modes. You'll have a singles Deathmatch that is pretty much all for themselves. Here you can choose to be any Transformer you want, from the available choices of course. Secondly, we have Team Deathmatch which pits the 2 teams against each other. As mentioned before, there is an option to turn factions on or off. With the Faction option off, you can play as any Transformer you like, but with it on you'll be relegated to your team faction (Autobot or Decepticon). Our third game mode is Control Point which is basically a territories style game where you must capture and hold points across the map. To win you must control and defend the most control points. Battle of the Shard if our 4th mode and is in essence as capture the flag mode. Finally, One Shall Stand is a team leader style game that pits 2 teams, each with a leader whom they must protect. As long as the leader is alive, players can respawn on the leaders position. But once the leader is dead than the match becomes a battle to eliminate all of the remaining players. Those remaining players can still kill the other leader and put the other team in the same situation.
All of the game modes are playable across 5 maps initially. The maps, while not small, are not really large either and makes some of the game modes a complete firefight at times. I truly believe the maps should be much larger as you have quite a mixture of flying machines as well as ground travle machines that can move quickly across the map. I definitely hope DLC maps come in a much large scale. You'll also have the ability to play in ranked or player matches. As usual, the player matches do not count for any stats and are meant for more casual players or setting up private rooms with you friends. Of course, you will have leader boards to view and full stats of your online performance in ranked matches. One more thing to keep in mind is that some Transformers are only available on some maps from what I have seen. But you can select a team of all the same Transformer it appears and I am not sure if I like that. I would hate to go into a room full of Megatron or Optimus Prime.
So now that you have a taste for what available on the multiplayer side of things lets get into the single player campaign. The campaign at first glance looks rather small but there is a lot to do and the whole leader board system is based on speed as well as points. You'll receive medals for completing levels in certain amounts of time. The quicker you complete it the better the medal ranging from bronze to platinum. You'll also be awarded points which translates into Energon cubes that can be used to upgrade your character abilities and weaponry.
The whole single player campaign is divided into an Autobot Campaign and a Decepticon campaign. To complete the entire campaign mode you will need to play as both the Autobots and the Decepticons. There are unlockables throughout the single player and are achieved by performing tasks, collecting Energon, using special attacks related to specific Transformers, etc. What is really cool is that some of the unlockables include full length G1 Cartoons including the creation of the Dinobots. I found myself watching these immediately when I had them unlocked.
So single player takes you through a series of locations scattered across the world. All locations are directly related to the movie, but the game allows for creativity in the missions at hand and do not directly relate to the movie. While the game does loosely follow the movie storyline with its cut scenes and general storytelling the developers have added much more with their own ideas and missions. I had actually started playing the game before seeing the movie just a few days ago and I have to say I was so excited that Bumble Bee talked in the game. I was sadly disappointed when he did not in the movie. I swear I waited that entire movie for the moment he got his voice back and it never happened. So boo to Michael Bay and yeah to the Luxoflux!
You'll have your basic storyline missions with side missions to be completed as well. Basically each area has 3 main storyline missions which must be completed to proceed further in the campaign. You'll also be earning Campaign tokens, and each level requires you to have a certain amount of the tokens to become playable. From what I could see, this truly never really comes into play because you'll be well above each levels minimum requirement fairly early in the game.
The single player will most definitely give you quite a few hours of gameplay and the medal and leader board system will have folks going back to try and beat their previous time to increase their online ranking. The split campaign is a great idea and deepens the single player experience all the more. Even though I enjoy being the good guy, there is always a moment when being the bad guy is so much more fun. And Transformers: ROTF delivers that feeling.
This game is fast and furious. There is constant action similar to the movie and there is rarely every a dull moment. While the control scheme does seem to take some flak from all of us, it really is a improved from the first game. A third game should be getting pretty close to perfect. The game is action packed, with online multiplayer as Transformers. Who could ask for more? If you are a fan of Transformers than you need to do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Even if you are just a casual fan or not even a fan, you should check this one out at least in the rental store. You'll definitely have some fun at the very least with the title.
Suggestions: Please add more Transformers via DLC as well as more maps for online gameplay. Some more unlockable content would be a great addition with some more single player missions as well. Overall though, I enjoyed the game and will for some time to come yet. I guess my most important suggestion would be for you to run with the license and create even more Transformer games whether there is a movie to back it up or not.