Controlling a virtual Shia LeBeouf as he goes to college and hangs out with his hot girlfriend sounds like a pretty terrible game -- and thankfully -- High Moon Studios thinks so too. Their newest game based on the ’80s toy brand-turned Michael Bay movie franchise, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is LeBeouf-free. It instead focuses on the actions of the shape shifting mega-robots themselves.
Prequel To The Movie
Dark of the Moon actually acts as a prequel to the events of the third in the movie series that sets the stage for many of the characters and plot points that will appear, but you aren’t required to see any of the movies to understand what is happening in the game or vice-versa.
Just know that there are lots of Autobots and Decepticons duking it out.
“War for Cybertron,” the previous Transformers video game, was set on a huge alien world, but Earth is the battlefield in Dark of the Moon, which means plenty of scenes of Transformers blasting through familiar towns and landscapes. In one stage, you might be traversing your way through burned out urban blocks of Detroit and in the next you could be leaping over cliffs in South America.
More Than Meets The Eye
In addition to all the variety of environments and stages, there’s also a lot of gameplay variety packed in. Sure, there’s plenty of running-and-gunning, but there’s also some driving stages, flight, and even stealth elements mixed in.
Each chapter features different main playable characters like Bumblebee, Starscream and Mirage, and each have their own set of weapons, powers and strategies. Ironhide is slow, but packs a powerful arsenal of weapons, while Mirage uses an activated cloaking system to sneak around his enemies. It’s also a plus that the game contains voice acting from the movie, including Peter Cullen (who voices Optimus Prime).
The graphics are superb, especially the presentation of the robots themselves and their complex transformations. High Moon has also added a new transforming mode (misnamed “Stealth Force” because it’s not really stealthy at all) that brings a new element to gameplay. Stealth Force is basically a mode where the transformer becomes a hybrid between car and robot, with guns bursting out of the semi-vehicle form. The only problem: it’s almost too powerful because you can strafe and shoot enemies while having the extra armor of vehicle mode.
At times, it’s tempting to play through much of the game in stealth mode instead of going into pure robot form.
Dark of the Moon also contains an amusing multiplayer mode that you’ll want to dig into after finishing the campaign. The ability to transform during gameplay gives Transformers a unique edge over other multiplayer games. Overall, the multiplayer very similar to the mode in War for Cybertron, with upgradeable character classes, customizable appearances and a number of maps, even if there’s a bit of a disappointing amount of game modes past traditional deathmatches and free-for-alls.
If you liked “War for Cybertron” or are a big Transformers fan, “Dark of the Moon” is a must-have. Others might want to rent it or try it out first to see if these rather large rock’em, sock’em robots are your cup of tea.
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