- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: High Moon Studios
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
- Genre: Third-Person-Action
- Pros: Fun combat; Shockwave
- Cons: Turrible driving sections; frustrating; very short campaign; throwaway multi; no unlockable goodies
The Dark of the Moon videogame serves as a prequel to the movie of the same name. Basically, after Revenge of the Fallen the Decepticons disappeared for three years. Without warning, they suddenly reappear and start destroying cities. All of the chaos is just a distraction, however, as their real plan is to find Shockwave (who apparently crash landed on Earth just like Megatron but was found by the Russians instead of S7) and free him, which leads in to what happens in the movie.
The campaign is really, really short. It is only 7 chapters long - each starring a different character (4 Autobots and 3 Decepticons) - and takes less than 5 hours to beat. If not for being frustratingly difficult, it would be even shorter. On top of the short campaign, the game doesn't have any unlockables or bonus materials like the last couple of TF games had. No G1 episodes. No artwork. No real value. You also can't re-play chapters with different characters.
There is a multiplayer deathmatch mode, but it is pretty shallow. It features perks and an experience system, like most shooters these days, but you level up crazy fast and see everything the game has to offer in just a few hours. It is fun while it lasts, but there isn't enough content to keep you interested for long.
The game plays like this: You transform from robot to vehicle by clicking the left stick. In vehicle mode, you have stealth force with a ton of weapons to use, but you can also switch to normal vehicle mode with no weapons to drive around faster. Robot mode has a ton of different weapons you can switch between and each character has unique special abilities. In robot mode, it plays like pretty much any typical third-person-shooter. You have a melee attack, grenades, tons of weapons, and the special abilities you can use. In vehicle mode, the game is basically Twisted Metal.
Switching between the modes is important because your robot mode is incredibly weak. You really can't take much damage. In vehicle mode, though, you're built like a tank. You aren't unstoppable, though, so you regularly have to hide behind cover out of the line of fire to recharge your health.
Another issue has to do with the driving sections. The stealth force mode in combat works fine, since you are basically just locking onto enemies and strafing around on hover pads. The problem I'm talking about is the normal vehicle modes with wheels. There are a handful of areas where you switch to vehicle form and are supposed to drive as fast as possible. These sections suck. The controls are really, really terrible and the physics are all kinds of messed up. You'll dread these sections even though they only last a couple minutes each.
On the other hand, the combat is actually kind of fun. It is fast paced and has an arcadey high score element to it that rewards you multipliers and extra points for using different weapons and tactics. The game is mostly empty corridors leading to larger rooms you fight waves of enemies in, but it is fun. It does get repetitive, though, and since you can't re-play levels with different characters, it is only really fun to play through once.
Visually, the game is only okay. The robot modes look good and are fairly detailed, but the environments are pretty bland. Indoor levels look particularly bad. Outdoor levels occasionally have nice lighting, though.
Nothing really special here. The guns and explosions sound decent, and the music is okay. The voice acting, other than Peter Cullen who does a solid job (like always) as Optimus Prime, is pretty flat.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a disappointingly typical movie tie-in game that actually manages to be worse than the two previous Transformers movie games. Not that it plays dramatically worse, but more because there is hardly any content here. Seven short levels that you can't re-play as different characters means you'll only play through them once. And no unlockable items means that once you finish the campaign once, and maybe play the throwaway multiplayer for an hour or two, you'll never touch the game again. It really feels like half a game that was rushed out to meet a deadline. I would say it is worth a rental for Transformers fans looking forward to the third movie, but absolutely not worth a full MSRP purchase.