While I've been a fan of the Transformers since I was a young child, I haven't always been an enthusiast about the possibility of a game that exalts their exploits. I've always been afraid that the developers will leave us older fans behind in favor of recruiting an audience of children.
Pursuing the Decepticon invasion of Earth, Optimus Prime has to recover the Mini-cons, a race of transformers that aside from having been lost for a million years, also happens to be the key to winning the Autobot-Decepticon war. Mini-cons, gotta catch em all! Part of the Transformers: Armada (now Transformers: Energon) storyline, that, while childish, provides a plot to work with.
Gameplay, you've got a traditional shooter that can switch between a slow, careful, and zoom capable first person perspective, to a fast and loose third person play style. Each of the main characters can transform and equip mini-cons to give them different abilities and weaponry, and in essence, each level turns into a giant snipe hunt, traveling from place to place trying to find and free mini-cons. Thanks to waves of Decepticlones, you'll have plenty of enemies to fight. Although it was easy to destroy the Decepticlones, I found the game somewhat slow paced and methodical, and strongly promoting a careful approach, much to my surprise. Additionally, while not amazing, many of the graphics in the game do give your eye something to look at, so at least they haven't dropped the ball there.
From an aural perspective, my ears were sadly lacking in input. This game features an appealing score, but very poor foley work, and next to no actually voice work. In the whole of the intro, I believe there's only like three spoken lines total, the only merit to which being that the voices of Megatron and Optimus Prime are played by the same actors featured as Megatron and Optimus Primal on Transformers: Beast Wars. So sue me, I'm an aficionado.
All in all, this game follows a very traditional gameplay formula, and even though it features it as a gimmick, transforming doesn't give you much in the way of strategy, but it does deliver on action blastey goodness. I'd skip it if you're interested in a title aimed at the old fans of Transformers who have long since grown up, but if you're looking for a quick dip into what the Transformers have recently turned into, this game is for you.
First things first: Yes, this game's robo-heroes do make that "er-ah-ee
Credit goes to the Mini-Cons, little-buddy 'bots strewn across the sprawling levels. You snap them to your Autobot hero four at a time to gain new weapons and abilities (shielding, invisibility, yadda, yadda). And since later-level enemies and bosses--especially a maddeningly frustrating aircraft carrier that morphs into a robot bigger than the Mall of Amprica---require experimentation to topple, you'll need to revisit earlier stages to find as many Mini-Cons as you can to improve your combat skills. It's not as tedious as it sounds, especially once you find glider wings that let you reach previously inaccessible areas. Unfortunately, you only get three Autobot heroes to choose from, and they all handle awkwardly as robots. But if you're a Transformers fan, I had you at the er-ah-ee part anyway."]
Fun toys--like machines that transform into trucks, meeting your robot and Tonka needs with one purchase--don't guarantee a good game, but Transformers taps the franchise without feeling forced Granted, I still don't know what business a big rig has in the Amazon basin or any of the other gigantic, way-too-good-looking-for-a-licensed-game levels, but who's complaining when you can roll out and roll over other robots? (Never mind Crispin's fuss about the controls; a little clunkiness is excusable when you're a walking car.) Plus, the collectible Mini-Cons are actually cooler here than the cheap-so-poor-kids-can-play-too Transformers are in real life.
Kinda like last year's Metal Arms, this over-the-shoulder robo-shooter totally ambushed me with how unexpectedly awesome it is. Though I wish more Autobots were playable--Optimus, Red Alert, and Hot Shot are so vanilla, robot-wise--the Mini-Con collecting and upgrade system encourages exploration and keeps combat interesting. The unlockable '80s public service announcements are gold, too. Fans of transformable robots, your ship (which also turns into a robot) has come in.