Beast Wars: Transformers
The Transformers have survived the cancellation of their original show and now they are back badder than ever on the PlayStation. If you haven't seen the new show, we're talking Beast Wars with the Transformers. It's all new action, but it's still led by a couple of your old favorites: Megatron, leader of the Predacons and Optimus Primal, leader of the Maximals. Like the new show, the game starts out with the Predacons and Maximals each having crash landed on a strange planet that has extremely high levels of Energon. Energon, while incredibly powerful, is also very harmful to the transformers, who cannot exist in their robotic forms without taking damage. To protect themselves, the transformers scan the planets nature inhabitants and take on these beast forms that allow them to tolerate the high levels of Energon.
Now that they have found a way to survive on this planet, despite the toxic levels of Energon, they can concentrate on repairing their ships and getting back home, right? Wrong. The two groups of Transformers see these high levels of Energon on the planet in fundamentally different ways.
The Predacons, under the leadership of Megatron, see this vast resource of Energon as a way to repair their damaged ship and if they can figure out how to harvest it, they could use it to ultimately rule the universe. Their primary goal is to find a way to harvest this power. Optimus Primal and the Maximals fear for the fate of the galaxy if ever Megatron should accomplish his goals. Therefore, Optimus Primal vows to stop any attempt by the Predacons to harvest the Energon.
In Beast Wars Transformers you get to assume the role of the Maximals or Predacons and your goal is to destroy the other group and to find a way off of this planet. Along the way, you are confronted with several missions that will call upon all of your skills to complete. For better or worse, your success will determine the fate of all Transformers.
The games starts out with letting you choose which team of Transformers you would like to control. Your overall goal will be decided by the team that you have selected. Once you have chosen a team, you get to select the mission that you will embark upon. Based on whatever that mission may be, you get to select which of your team members is best suited for that mission. On some missions, it is to your advantage to be quick; therefore, the fastest unit would be the best. Other missions call for some serious action, so a unit with a little more fire power and armor would be better suited. This is a nice feature, and adds an extra level of strategy to each of the missions.
Beast Wars is a third-person 3D polygonal shooter. You control your Transformer by looking over his shoulder, much the same as MDK. There are several actions that each Transformer can take: shooting, strafing, rolling right and left, and of course, transforming to and from beast mode. While in beast mode you may be more vulnerable to enemy attacks, you do recover damage caused by exposure to Energon and are able to jump higher than in your robotic form. It becomes sort of a roller-coaster ride of fighting in robotic form and then recovering in beast mode. It would have been nice if they had placed a couple more health power ups along the way.
Enemies come at you from all angles so it is critical that you master the controls, especially the panning up and down. More often than not, the blast that kills you, comes from the skies above you.
The difficulty of each mission is fairly high. Even on the easier levels, I found myself getting a little frustrated, especially because you cannot save your position in the middle of a mission. This was particularly frustrating. You could fight your way through a level, killing everyone in sight and then at the last moment slip into a pool of radiated water and it's all over. You don't get to start where you left off, or even close to it. You start back at the beginning minus the Transformer that you were using. Each time you die, you lose that character and when you are out of Transformers, the game is over.
The intro of the game was an awesome, a nicely rendered job of the series opener. The music and flashing video was great and got my anticipation going about what type of game lay in store for me. Unfortunately, the rest of the game is not so nicely done. While the environment was adequately portrayed, in world where we are routinely blown away by games that are painstakingly rendered it was a bit of a letdown. Perhaps a couple of years ago, this game would have been awesome, like Battle Arena Toshinden was for its day. Nowadays, with games like Tekken 3 and Resident Evil 2 setting high standards, we've become a bit spoiled.
While each of the transformers is nicely rendered and the transformation scenes are nicely done, there just wasn't thing else that stood out in this game graphically, especially when you consider how well done the show is. The movements in robotic form and beast mode are generally good, although I occasionally found myself getting stuck on the sides of buildings and walls.
Beast Wars Transformers is a decent game, but I must admit that I was disappointed. When you have the kind of characters that are as well established as the Transformers are, you find yourself hoping for a really killer game. In the end, it fell short of my rather high expectations. Beast Wars was pretty tough, and even the easy levels are fairly unforgiving. I like the Transformers and was excited about this game when I got it, but in the end, I found myself getting a bit frustrated with the gameplay. Not being able to save a game in the middle of a level was something that I didn't like, and I found myself starting each mission over and over again. It was extremely frustrating. However, if you are a fan of the show -- and like a game that will challenge you -- you might want to give Beast Wars Transformers a try.