Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen box art
System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Beenox 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Activision 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jun. 23, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1, 2-8 (Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Painful Revenge
by Matthew Walker

Summer blockbuster films always seem to find their way to video game consoles. In the past they have nearly always ruined the time and money we’ve spent playing those titles. Over the last few months we’ve had really good movie-based games, X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game to name a few. Does Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen continue this trend, or does it fall victim to old conventions?

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen screenshot

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer. While there are issues (I’ll get to those in a moment), it delivers on a level that surpasses the first title, while clinging to the roots of the first title. This isn’t a bad thing. For all its shortcomings, the first Transformers title had a lot of great elements to it that I really enjoyed and wanted more of.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen loosely follows the movie. When I say loosely, I don’t mean good loosely, as in this is an attachment to the story we didn’t see in the film. No, I mean the bad loosely where there are just enough spoilers to give you the gist of what happens in the movie without going any deeper whatsoever. The Autobots have aligned themselves with the U.S. military to further protect Earth and combat the remaining Decepticons on the planet. Sam Witwicky has gone off to college and life is somewhat normal for the planet, except for the irrational attacks Decepticons make and the Autobots confront them and do billions of dollars in property damage.

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To kick things off, you have your standard tutorial for controls. Even though some things are slightly different depending on the side you choose, Autobot or Deception, each story basically mirrors one another. The endgame is the same just with Autobot or Decepticon influences. This is probably where the lackluster story suffers the most. As I said earlier, the story picks the meat off the proverbial bones of the movie. Add to this the non-descript changes between the good and evil sides of the story, and you’ll be hard-pressed to play through a second time to see the outcome of the other side. Contributing factors to this are the “cutscenes” if you can call them that. Consisting of merely a war room setting with the Transformers standing around talking about what is happening. Not only did it feel boring, it actually made me care less about what was going on; I just wanted to do missions to destroy robots.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen screenshot

Structured as a strict mission-based game, it allows for short gameplay sessions, but it also creates a problem for exploration in the game because of the timer. I thought we had moved passed level timers in games, apparently not. These timers are not just for level completion but instead are for medals. The medals can help you acquire more Energon to spend on upgrades for your team, while you do still receive Energon by other means than the medals you earn. Earning the medals is the only way to obtain campaign points. The points are used to unlock zones and missions in the games. This bothers me a little because it basically forces you to play through levels several times just to progress through the story. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if those missions were varied from ‘destroy this set of enemies,’ ‘repair these devices,’ ‘escort this group to safety,’ etc.

Even though those sound varied, that’s not exactly the problem. The repetition is the problem. Even the missions where you have to repair devices are reduced to ‘look at an enemy, kill it.’ This is my biggest problem with the game. While the first title allowed for a little free-roam, this title confines the Transformers to battle royal status. Literally, when the missions start, your selected robot comes into the mission in a fashion that, at times, I wondered if I was playing a fighting game based on Transformers. The single-player experience felt more like multiplayer sessions than actual single-player campaigns.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen screenshot

Speaking of the multiplayer, Revenge of the Fallen actually surprised me with its online functionality. While there’s nothing revolutionary in the online modes, it felt really satisfying combating every robot that moved on the screen. My particular favorite mode was One Shall Stand. In this mode, one player is selected as Optimus Prime on the Autobots’ side and another Megatron on the Decepticons’ stage. It’s similar to VIP modes in other online games. It’s just sort of satisfying to have the option to face off against your longtime enemy reminiscent to the 80’s cartoon feature film. Except I think both Optimus and Megatron probably had a better control on where they were shooting.

Screenshots / Images
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