I really liked last year’s Transformers: War for Cybertron. High Moon Studios created the best Transformers game ever, so it makes sense for Activision to turn to them for the game adaptation of the third Transformers movie. How does it compare to their stellar Transformers debut? While you can see the seeds of that first game here with similar mechanics and gameplay, but the shorter time between the two games hurts it in some ways.
Like War for Cybertron, Dark of the Moon is a third-person shooter where you can quickly transform from robot form to vehicle form at any time. This time, you’re vehicle form defaults to a “Stealth Force” mode that gives you additional armor and weapons while holding one of the triggers will then turn your Stealth Force vehicle into a normal one to quickly traverse the levels.
If you played War for Cybertron, this one will feel similar. The difference is that the levels are set on Earth and it’s using the Bayformer designs. It’s really a cosmetic change, but the levels here just aren’t as interesting-looking or as detailed as the Cybertron levels from last year’s title. You do have to give High Moon props, however, for translating the jumbled mess of the Bayformer designs to some pretty decent character models. Ironhide, my favorite in appearance of the movie designs, translated very well over to the game.
The key issue with Dark of the Moon is that you know High Moon can produce a great Transformers game, but you get the feeling that less than a year wasn’t enough time to crank out another classic like War for Cybertron. But, with this being a movie tie-in game; they need to have it out in time for the movie’s release. The result is a game that could have been a fantastic follow-up to a great game, but lacks the polish that a few more months in the oven could have produced.
While there is competitive multi-player, the awesome three-player co-op and Escalation modes didn’t make it into this one. Texture detail in the worlds, despite also running on Unreal 3, isn’t close to Cybertron’s levels that at time had an eye-blistering level of detail. And the level designs just feel a bit rushed without the careful thought that you could see went into the levels in Cybertron.
Naturally you get Peter Cullen as Prime, as anyone else would be a crime. And I really need to praise High Moon’s composer of doing a great job at bringing in Steve Jablonsky’s themes into the soundtrack. I really hate movie-based games that ignore the movie’s score and themes for something generic, so having Jablonsky’s feel to the soundtrack really helped.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn’t a bad game, just a tad disappointing. Even with all its flaws, it’s still one of the stronger Transformers games out there thanks to its pedigree of following War for Cybertron and being from the same developer. If you’re a Transformers fan not completely turned off the from Bayformer look, Dark of the Moon is a decent way to spend a weekend day prior to seeing the movie.
Review was written with a retail PS3 copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon provided by Activision.