Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Transformers (PC), Quick Review

Fantastic fun if you use a trainer to circumvent the ridiculously difficult gameplay and impossible mission timers.

Hidden underneath the impossible difficulty of Transformers is a free, open city (such as seen in the Grand Theft Auto [GTA] series) with fully destructible buildings, throw-able buses, police cars, billboard signs, and of course, climbing up buildings like a monster in Rampage (or a Transformer in the recent movie). It's wild fun to run amok or collect brightly colored cubes to unlock content. Like GTA, the missions suck donkey hair.

If I were to use metrics, this game flip flops between a solid "8" and a solid "5". Every mission where the trainer works (cancels out nigh-impossible timers or makes defeating 10 Decepticons in 2 minutes doable with 1 hit kills) is good, mindless fun. Every mission where the trainer doesn't affect the clock, or can't combat the task at hand (speed out of a tunnel before it blows up a-la Return of the Jedi's Deathstar death throes, do it 6 times in one mission), inspires me to yell unpleasant words at my 32" TV.

Unfortunately, by default (without a trainer), Transformers: The Game doesn't let you do enough of what you really want to do -

  1. run around, battling Decepticons
  2. saving the day
  3. possibly as a team with more than one Autobot.
The first two options are in the game, but hidden behind implausable time limits that are automatically set to "Expert." To get them right, you cannot make an error. Hit a barrier while you're racing in car form? Transform into a robot, move the stick left to turn your heading a bit, and transform again and hit the gas and the boost, because you don't have time to back up, turn, and go. That is stupidly difficult.

Still, the game has good graphics, shadows, effects, and the environment is highly reactive. In each "city" area, you can earn bonus content by making a super long drift, drive fast without being interrupted, throwing something high, high into the sky for maximum air time, etcetera (5 achievements total, I can't recall them all). Melee attacks and using heavy or light ranged weaponry are separate, blocking is easy - these things are fun.

Aside from the insane difficulty of the missions, there are only three things wrong with this game:
  1. The camera isn't smart, but doesn't get in your way. Controlling it yourself when you're in robot mode works fine, but it'd be nice if it auto-snapped better. There's a setting for sensitivity and I haven't tried "maximum," just "low" (default), and "medium."
  2. The automatic "lock on" is jumpy. You need to keep the target fairly close to your reticule, and that's difficult when you're not in a flight simulator, but a driving simulator. Robot mode isn't so much of an issue.
  3. The sound effects don't understand what should be loud and what should be - nearly inaudible or not played at all (that seems to be the range). I've had plenty of car crashes where I barely hear a thing beyond my own engine.
All in all, I am surprised at the quality of this game - Traveler's Tales really put some love into it. I'm having great fun with it, as are my brother and my kids.

No comments: