Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

By Nick Sangrey - Posted Jun 28, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is out just in time for the movie's release, though that may be the only appeal to Transformers fans as this game seems to come up short in comparison to War for Cybertron.

The Pros
  • Multiplayer customization
  • Movie's cast did the voice acting
  • List of playable characters
The Cons
  • Short, repetitive campaign
  • Lack of multiplayer game modes
  • Load times within campaign

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review:

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is out just in time for the movie’s release, though that may be the only appeal to fans of the Transformers games as this one seems to come up short in comparison to War for Cybertron.

With the success of Transformers: War for Cybertron, the expectations and excitement for the next Transformers game should be pretty high, however, fans of last year’s success will have to settle for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, unfortunately. The game carries over some of what made War for Cybertron so engaging, but for some reason, High Moon Studios decided to do away with quite a bit of the depth in this year’s movie tie-in game. Immediately, players will note the disappearance of Escalation mode and half of the available multiplayer game types. The only good thing about Dark of the Moon is the chance to play as more of your favorite Transformers, but you won’t enjoy a good story or become engaged in a fast-paced, action-filled experience.


So, Where is the Rest of It?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon should have been more than what it is. The game itself can be titled as “passable” like so many other Transformer games. With the success of War for Cybertron, it would seem logical that this game would continue to surprise and excite fans and players as being a fun, lasting movie tie-in game. Really though, the game just seems to exist as something you might pick up, play for a while, and then forget about. It isn’t all bad, though; however, many fans will want to stick to last year’s game.

In the campaign, you start out as Bumblebee moving through a South American village where you fight Decepticons, while learning the basics of the game. What is surprising is that the rest of the game plays out just like this introductory chapter. Each level has you playing as one of the most recognizable Transformers -- alternating between Autobot and Decepticon characters -- each that have their own abilities and weapon load-outs. The levels are then created around each character, so that you will have to use these abilities to get past waves of enemies that more or less look and act in the same way.

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While you could use strategy to maneuver around and effectively use your abilities, you might find it easier to just switch to Stealth Force mode and fire away at close range with unlimited ammo and beefed up defenses that make it rather difficult for you to die. Being in robot form is really only useful to progress through the missions, because you have to interact with various objects to complete objectives. Otherwise, remaining in robot form is just a faster way to turn into a pile of scrap.


But Wait, There’s More...Sort of

If listening to Peter Cullen narrate the campaign finally gets old (doubtful), you can go to what has to be considered the game’s saving grace: multiplayer. While the game modes are limited to basic versions of Team Deathmatch, Free-for-all, and Domination, the ability to pick different classes, level up, and customize makes for a somewhat longer lasting experience than the campaign.

The classes feel and play differently, which is nice, as you can chose between a small, nimble character, or a giant, hulk of a character with huge guns and a lot of ammo. Each class gets some unique abilities, but the majority of them are shared across classes. You get access to a couple of characters per class -- such as Bumblebee and Enforcer for the Scout class -- and you can customize their colors should you chose to. Each class also has a set amount of weapons to choose from, but it’s not extensive. In fact, your main gun is locked in. You can alter your secondary weapon, however, with something different such as a sniper rifle or an SMG.

The action is smooth and the gameplay is more or less balanced, but again, players will find that Stealth Force mode proves to be a little more advantages than robot form, and vehicle form is really only good for running away or getting back into the action quicker. At one point, when playing as Warpath, I could actually just roll around in his tank form and get almost instant kills while absorbing an alarming amount of damage. Apart from that, being able to fly around the map as Starscream was a nice contrast. There’s something here for everyone, and each player is sure to find a play style that they might enjoy.


I Guess This Works, But...

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is not a terrible game, but considering how much success and acclaim War for Cybertron got from fans, one might expect a little more. The fact that modes were taken away and no effort was made to replace them seems a little strange. Perhaps it was a rushed development job, but a little more time and polish and this game could have been a lot better, at least in the multiplayer department.

Playing through the campaign, especially in Chapter 4, I found odd patches of load times that really distracted from playing the game. One part had me racing away from lava only to find myself stuck in a midgame load time, which then left me trapped and eventually fried. Minor problems like this seem odd considering how simply the campaign played.

Other than that, everything seemed to run smoothly, and the game does look pretty good. Each level looks unique, but plays similarly on a linear path built for each character. Playing on normal proved to be a solid challenge, but not because the game required too much skill, but because at some points, the game was a little unfair. Ten on one doesn’t always work out for the best.

The multiplayer was enjoyable, and at least by beating the campaign you will unlock new characters making playing it worth something. Nothing was really over the top nor tremendously special, which is a little disappointing, but again, still worth renting if you are fan of the Transformers games, just don’t get your hopes up too high.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?