There defiantly is more than meets the eye to this game.
Okay I know, that was just awful, but honestly I wasn’t expecting much to this game. Not because the first game was horrible, but it just seems to be tradition for all movie based video games to be horrible. Rarely do we ever get an exception. This is a current Gamefly rental for me, and it was really the only worth while 360 game I could pick out that was currently holding me any interest (after watching a multiplayer video) other than Prototype. (Which I have yet to receive because it’s taking forever to restock. Lesson learned, treat Gamefly rentals like a pre-order.)
The case is usually that screenshots do not do the game justice. Well, it’s quite the opposoite for Trans 2. While the Transformers are highly detailed, the landscape, buildings, and humans are not. Buildings seem to be rather shallow, while human beings look rather lifeless, but the focus here any way is big giant fighting robots, not big giant asses.
In-game graphics. I promise.
I should mention near the end of this writing I have a very minor movie spolier, but I couldn’t resist the reference, so just a head’s up. First, the single player. Like the first game, you have a choice between two campaigns, Autobots, or Decepticons, and you can switch between them without losing progress in the other. Before each mission, you can review your stats, any unlockables you have acquired, and upgrades. Killing enemies gives you energon, or, basically money or experience points. You can spend the energon on upgrades. These upgrades can do various things such as increase your health, decrease the amount of heat your weapons produce, or increase your melee damage. The problem is other than the ones I’ve mentioned, the rest of the upgrades don’t really see much use, such as the damage or heat capacity of your vehicle mode weapons, which you will barely ever use since you can’t aim your vehicle’s weapons other than straight. The game is easy enough to beat without having to replay missions to get energon to spend on an upgrade that will give you that extra boost to finish a mission. In the game’s end, I still have about 17 upgrades that I have yet to get. The game’s progression is non-linear, in that you can choose whatever order you want to do the missions, providing you have done the requirements to unlock them. At first glance, the mission interface is horrible, it takes a while to get used to what mission you are selecting. Once you’ve chosen a mission, you get to choose which Autobot/Decepticon you want to use….which is a joke. More on that later. Once you’ve chosen your bot, the mission begins.
The mission variety in the campaign is a standard stuff, nothing we’ve never seen before. For Autobots, you are either destroying Decepticons, activating/repairing objects, or rescuing civilians and transporting them to a destination. As Decepticons, you are destroying Autobots and human military, activating/repairing objects, and kidnapping civilians and transporting them to a destination. In contrast, no matter what side you’re playing you’re going to be doing the same thing, just for different moral reasons. (Other than as Decpiticons, killing random cars and civilians feels more justified, because you can even do that as Autobots despite you actually trying to protect them.) However, the level design is really good. Though technically just an average city landscape that people live in, for a robot it’s an arena. There are tons of buildings for you take cover behind or climb over. This means you can tackle enemies from different angles every time, so at the very least the missions that do nothing but throw waves of robots at you are at least replayable.
Each mission also has several skill shots for you to find that go towards unlocks, (that for some reason still count even if you “touch” them) as well as medals that you can earn for completing the mission within a given amount of time. Finishing missions unlocks new ones and other zones. Finishing all missions in a zone unlocks Free-Roam for that zone, or what I like to call “Godzilla” mode. This mode is quite possibly the worst part of the game. In this mode you can run around the area without any enemies or any objective to worry about. The only thing that is there is just random civilians, cars, and buildings, who are there even in the missions for ambience. Yes, it’s Grand Theft Auto minus the police, or stat tracking. If you ever wanted to wreck havoc in a city as a giant robot, here is your chance. But since you can do that (accidental or not) anyway during the actual missions, and nothing tracking your evil deeds, playing this mode is really pointless, there’s just no challenge to it. Chances are during the missions while jumping, running and dodging, you’re going to kill somebody and knock something over anyway.
Speaking of pointless, let’s go back to the character selection. The problem with being able to choose which bot to use for each mission is that half the time you are limited to one choice, while the other bots are locked. In some cases, this is understandable. For instance in one mission you have to fly between naval ships, so Breakaway who can turn into a jet is naturally the proper choice. Any missions that involve you lugging Sam or Mikaela around have you play as Bumble Bee, while the end missions of course deal with Optimus Prime. However, the majority of the game’s missions don’t deal directly to the film (missions that the Transformers could of been doing before the start of the movie or offscreen) and in some cases even the parts that do tie in with the movie are changed up a bit for the game’s sake. Because of this, I don’t understand why you can’t choose any bot you want, especially when the game boasts being able to take on the missions anyway you want. The only way to unlock them for any mission is to perform specific tasks during missions like performing certain moves a certain amount of times, but since the missions are so straight forward, I don’t see how many people would want to bother, espeically in every zone, the required task is different. Still, each mission has various tasks to perform that also unlocks artwork, cutscenes, and best of all, entire full episodes of the original 1980 Transformers TV show. Let the nostalgia and cheese begin! *autobot face zoom in and out* scene transition*
The control can take a while to get used to, but in the end as awkward as it is the control layout feels nesscary to allow fluid transitions between the various modes. (And it can’t be changed.) By default, you are in robot mode. The left stick moves you around in whatever direction you push, and the right stick moves the camera. Pushing X performs your melee attack, (3x for a combo) or you can hold it down to do a charge attack. That’s about as complicated melee gets. To bring up your guns, you hold LT. This brings up a reticule, while RT shoots. While holding LT, the left and right stick change to moving/strafing and aiming, respectively. Holding the LT the entire time can put a pain in your trigger fingers, but I believe it’s like that because it changes how the sticks move your character. (Although I don’t see a problem with it being a toggle instead of holding it down the whole frikkin time) Holding RT (without holding down LT) puts you into vehicle mode. Yes, “holding” again. Ugh. Most games where controlling a vehicle is only half the game, (GTA, Saints Row) a face button serves as the acceleration. To slow down your acceleration, you simply let go of the button, hit the brake face button, or just tap it to keep a steady momentum. Not so here. RT is also your acceleration, so to slow down you gently release pressure on RT. The problem is if you let it go altogether you don’t just glide along the road and slow down, you stop instantly and change back into a robot. This means you can stop on a dime when all you wanted to do was slow down, and in mulitplayer this can get you killed. There is a break button, but it’s also LB, and you have to keep holding down RT (the accleration) while doing so. I can’t remember a game where you drive in order to break you also have to push the gas at the same time. Oh and power steering is LT. Because in most FPS games RT shoots, often times I find myself wanting to shoot by pushing RT, (no LT) so that just turns me into a car when I don’t want to. Also while in vehicle mode, while holding down RT, if you hold down either A, X, or B, and then release RT but still holding down a face button, you perofrm various other (but damn useful) moves. For instance, holding down A then releasing RT turns you back into a robot, but maintains your speed and makes you jump higher and further. Without enough practice you can find yourself hopping buildings switching between robot and vehicle like a pro. This controller setup is more uncomfortable than it seems, but of course it’s due to limitations on a gamepad. I can easliy see how this can be replicated for the PC version.
All in all the campaign is pretty short, while 23 missions for both campaigns may seem like a lot, all of them can be finished quickly. Give or take, no more than 8 minutes for the longest of missions. The upgrades might take you a while, but as I said before only a few of them are really useful and you’ll be long past done with the campaign before you even get them all. The stat tracking I listed earlier tracks quite a lot of stats, but it also takes forever to scroll through them all. It still doesn’t warrant to keep doing the same missions over and over. The only tasks that seem worthwhile are the episode unlocks.
And it’s a shame too, because none of the unlockables in the campaign have any effect in the multiplayer; there is no upgrading of any kind, you have everything from the start. You’ll be hard pressed to finish the campaign as fast as possible just so you have a chance to try out all the different Transformers before trying to use them online. (I tried starting a game by myself, it takes a long time because I have to kill msyelf in order to switch characters, and apparently even with no opponent, those deaths counted towards my multiplayer stats. The only way to avoid is to make another game.) The game has five maps to choose from, all which come from the campaign. Five isn’t much, but they are stuffed to the brim with buildings, so you can make good use of them. Multiplayer has five game modes. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, One Shall Stand (TDM with leaders on each team that disable spawning on their team when they die) Control Points and Battle For The Shards. (Capture The Flag.) The game DOES have assist points (thank god) and is rather generous with it, so you don’t have to worry about teamates knocking on you because you barely contributed. A kill is worth 10 points, but an assist can be worth as high as 7 points from what I’ve gotten, and thankfully points is ranked higher than kills. The game keeps track of a separate listing of stats just for multiplayer. THESE are the real stats you’ll be paying attention to. The only problem is it seems to track stats whether you are playing ranked or not, which obviously can be exploited very easliy. The game takes up to 8 players. That may not seem like much considering the size of the maps, but you’ll be thankful when you find out just how long it takes to kill someone. (Unless you completely blindside them of course.) This isn’t Call of Duty with realistic 2, 3 shot kills, but I would say it’s a little higher than Halo, about 4-5 seconds of constant damage with a Transformer with heavy armor. You can host with different options, such as time limit, number of private slots, faction restrictions, and number of rounds. (I know, number of rounds sounds like you don’t respawn, but thankfully you do, save for One Shall Stand. I don’t know why this option is even here, just increase the time limit.) Faction restriction enables whether or not you are forced to pick bots on your faction. For example if set to “No,” that means if your an Autobot, you can choose Megatron, or Decepticons can choose Bumble Bee. The different Transformers all range with different play styles. Each Transformer comes with a primary and a secondary weapon. Weapons are either automatic, semi auto, chargeable, grenade type (splash damage), dumbfire (unguided) missiles or lock on missiles. There is no ammo count to worry about, but there is overheating for each weapon. Each Transformer also has a special ability with a cooldown that is activated with Y. Big huge hulking Transformers like Ironhide or Long Haul usually have semi auto weapons and are slow, but can take a lot of hits before going down. Medium sized Transformers like Optimus are middle range with automatic weapons, and small guys like Bumble Bee or Sideways are small and fast, but if they have an auto weapon it’s a bit weaker.
I wish the faction restriction was just off to begin with, because I do see a few balance issues; there are some Transformers that don’t seem to have an equivalent on the other faction. For instance, my first game I played as Ratchet (Autobots), small frame with weak armor, but had a machine gun and a grenade launcher, with healing as his special ability. (Everyone regardless of ability can heal to full in a few several seconds by staying out of combat. Important note: Having your guns out counts as “in combat”, even if your alone in hiding, so remember to holster your weapon when doing so.) Yet, Long Haul (Decepticons) is a tank character with HEAVY armor, yet his special was also healing. In that match, I didn’t stand a chance. Not only was I dying left and right, but I could never hit anything: the entire opposite team (who were not in a clan) were all using Starscream, or some bot whose vehicle mode is a jet or chopper. The decepticons seem to have an over abundance of aerial bots. I then found the counter for arial bots: Lock on missiles. Unfortunatley, only Bumble Bee (Autobots) and Starscream (Decepticons) have lock-on missiles. Jets are prime targets for missiles, as they are out in the open. Eventually I kept using Bumble Bee as my main character. Why? He has lock on missiles. One cluster itself doesn’t hurt much, but they take mere seconds to lock on and fire again, and up close you don’t even need to bother locking on: just barrage them in their face up close. If things get too hot, his vehicle mode is everyone’s favorite yellow Camero, hit the A button to get a turbo boost and high tail it outta there. If I want to be a real bitch, his Y ability creates a burst of (I would say EMP but that would effect him too) electricity that stuns anyone near him. The time they are stunned is enough time for me to pummel them with missiles to kill them off or get them near dead from full health. Cheap? Probably, but he’s also fragile. I usually end up with more kills than deaths with him. Now, I can’t do this if I’m a Decepticon in a server where the host has faction restriction. I have to be Starscream, who has a large, fat build, decent armor, and has lock on missiles as both his secondary AND his vehicle form. You would think a character wouldn’t use the same type of weapon that is also his weakness, especially if he has two of them.
Sideways (Decepticon) is small, so you would think he is the same as Bumble Bee, but in face he’s the sniper of the faction. He’s smaller and even weaker in armor than Bumble Bee, and his small stature make him hard to see if sniping from a inconspicuous position. He moves fast, his vehicle mode is a hot rod, but he has no lock on missiles. So whose the sniper for Autobots? Breakaway, whose stature is really tall, and vehicle mode is a jet…tall and fully exposed doesn’t exactly qualify for subelty, but yet they give him a sniper rifle . So in other words, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent of Bumble Bee (small and fast, lock on, no sniper) for Decepticons, and no equivalent for Sideways (small, fast, sniper, no lock on) for Autobots. In all games when it comes to balance, it’s usually big armored guys have slow but damaging and easy to use weapons, while weaker guys have weaker weapons but some kind of back up weapon that makes up for it, as well as they’re speed. I can’t help but think that a few weapons should be switched around.
The sound effects are excellent. You can hear the bullets hitting metal, explosions are loud, and lasers aren’t your cheap “pew pew!” All the actors from the film including Peter Cullen, Megan Fox, and Shia LaBeouf all voice their respective roles in the game, although for the most part you will only hear the Transformers talking. Needless to say, the acting is top notch, but for some reason Shia sounds like he’s rushing his lines like a nervous wreck, as if his “mental breakdown” never ended. As good as the acting is though, I wish whatever character I’m escorting would just shut up at times. I don’t need to hear “You’re taking damage! Be careful!” when I’m at 95% health. Unlike multiplayer, you are surrounded often with enemies smaller than you in single player, so avoiding bullets is often not an option. The music ranges from heavy metal riffs or dramatic tones, depending on what’s happening. However this awesome music is absent in multiplayer. (As it is with most multiplayer games for some reason.)
Depending on the lasting appeal of this game’s multiplayer, I might end up buying this game. The campaign is honestly nothing to speak of, especially if nothing you unlock in it has anything to do with the multiplayer section. You can use all the Transformers from the start online. I would of bought this for PC, it would be a lot easier on my trigger fingers, but I just know the online community would be dead there, despite the PC game being a simeltanous release with console versions. (That means no shitty ports.) The game has a good Armored Core (or to old schoolers, Mechwarrior) feel to it. Weapons are huge, powerful and flashy, and with the exepction of vehicle mode or small bots, you’re never aiming at something that is jumping around with a seizure, so super human Quake aiming aren’t required. If they’re smart, they’ll add more maps and possibly some kind COD4 like perk system to it. As it stands right now the community is pretty high, but let’s hope they don’t wait too long.