|System: DS, PSP, X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 19, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
July 5, 2007 - Suit up Decepticon! It's time you learned to serve Starscream and get rid of those nasty Autobots! And don't forget to destroy everything in your path! Your first trial by fire? Locate the Allspark. And don't forget to kill any humans that cross your path and cause as much property damage as possible. Such is the adventure that awaits you in the Nintendo DS exclusive, Transformers: Decepticons.
The game starts you off by having you choose a name. You don't quite know what it's for, but you soon find out that your chosen moniker will be the name of your on-screen character. You'll be able to download missions, as well as communicate with other Decepticons, including your master, Lord Starscream. None of the other Decepticons seem annoyed that they have to deal with such a naïve newbie Decepticon.
The game is structured in such a way that it's like an open world system, but you'll eventually have no choice but to select missions in a linear fashion. Once you accept your mission, you'll receive some pretty specific instructions. As a Decepticon it is your duty to get rid of the Autobot nuisance as quickly as possible, whilst looking into the possible reappearance of Megatron and looking for the Allspark. Any humans get in your way? No problem. That's what weapons are for!
One really cool facet of this game is that, although you are locked into playing as your own character, you're not limited in what you can transform into. Virtually any vehicle you see on the street you can "scan" and transform into. And it's not just limited to cars, as you can also transform into jets, helicopters, and basically anything you see around you. My personal favorite is the tiny little red sports car. That thing really zooms, trust me!
As far as the different locations go, Transformers: Decepticons will have you going all the way from the sleepy little town of Tranquility to the barren wasteland of the desert. All environments are 100% interactive, and you can pick up and use virtually anything around you as a weapon to thwart the Autobots. You can also take out a couple of people if you want.
In addition to the one-player mode, Transformers: Decepticons offers a good amount of material in the form of multiplayer modes. The first multiplayer mode comes in the form of a multi-cart DS connection that allows you to test your transformers skills against those of your friends. You'll participate in several competition type missions to see which Decepticon really has it! Now this one is also compatible with the Autobot version of the game, so you could conceivably have a battle royale on your hands.
Though this multiplayer mode is pretty cool, I have to say that the Nintendo Wi-Fi supported "Battle for the Allspark" is the most unique, (and dare I say revolutionary?) use of the Nintendo DS' Wi-Fi capabilities. I can honestly say I've never played an online game quite like this, and became thoroughly addicted to the concept. Here's how it works: You begin by connecting to the Decepticon command center through Nintendo's Wi-Fi. Then you'll receive a daily mission. Once you receive this mission, you disconnect, and play through the mission as many times as you need to get the best possible score. Then once you're confident that you've done the best you can do, you upload your score to the network. Your score is then compared to other Decepticons, and added to the total Decepticon score, which is then compared with the Autobots score (the score of the people with the Transformers: Autobots game who completed the day's Allspark mission). You can check back the next day to see which team won. And if the Decepticons win, you get a special Transformers token that allows you to access special content and unlockable vehicles. Plus it feels so good to further the cause of evil!
Graphics are surprisingly good for a DS game and feature remarkably detailed characters and environments. The opening cutscene is worth mentioning as well because it really tries to create an almost PlayStation 2 quality scene. Sure the frame rate is kinda sluggish, but I appreciate the attempt to do something graphically complex on the DS. Other than that, the levels look very clean, and the Decepticons look very sinister in all their mechanical glory. The only complaint that I have (and it's a minor one) was that I expected more color on the Autobots. I always associate them with bright colors.
As far as controls are concerned, Transformers: Decepticons is near-perfect. The face buttons are used for weaponry and jumping, whilst the d-pad is used for pointing your transformer in the right direction. The camera is controlled by the L and R buttons, and you'll use the touch screen to transform and to scan vehicles. The only problem I have with the controls is using the touch screen. Because you're using the face buttons for fighting, having to hit the touch pad with a stylus just in the nick of time to catch that pesky Autobot is just impractical and creates that awkward button-to-stylus fumble that all too many of us are familiar with. But other than that, the controls are relatively straightforward and easy to pick up.
Sound quality is excellent and features wonderfully executed voiceovers by original actors from the film. Music is also very good and the game features its own original Decepticon score that is completely unique to this version of the game. This is definitely one game that you want to have the sound turned up for! Plus Starscream sounds awesome. Just thought I'd throw that in there.
Overall, I have to say that I am very pleased with Transformers: Decepticons. For a licensed game, I think the developers have done a very good job of creating a unique game experience that lets you experience the source material in two completely different ways. With an innovative multiplayer function, unique story mode, and good technical specs, Transformers: Decepticons looks like it may be so good it's evil.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer