I really like the game. I preordered it and picked it up the day it came out. I have only been playing campaign mode so I can't comment on Escalation, etc.
I really really like the character designs. I personally feel it's what G1 should have been when it showed them in their cybertronian form (rather then the fact it showed them always looking like their earth robot mode).
Game play was fun in normal mode and challenging enough I didn't blow through it immediately, but not so challenging that I got frustrated enough to quit. I would say I am a casual gamer with ok playing skills.
I thought it was a nice feature that I could pause the game even while it was in control of the characters walking around and talking in a movie section of the game, rather then making me wait till the video section was over to pause it.
The damage effect to your "vision" was a nice touch, as was the glare caused by facing in the direction of the sun. It made it more realistic (and a bit tougher) when playing.
Whatever engine they are using to control NPCs is entertaining. I watched an autobot drag another autobot to safety... well up until I got tired of watching and shot them both. Most NPC's don't really do anything, but I appreciate that the programmers did still spend time on them. I like to go up to them and look at what they are doing and just examine the background. For me visuals in a game are very big. If I didn't care about graphics I would own a wii. Wii's are fun, but not on the same level of graphics that I associate with the PS3.
The banter back and forth between the characters you are grouped with is amusing. I like listening to them and I hate to say it since I am an autobot sympathizer, but the decipticons were funnier. Skywarp, Starscream, and Thundercracker & Megatron with Breakdown were the most interactive and amusing.
Having the other characters around to help you get through the levels is nice and they are well balanced. They help you kill things, however they won't kill the really tough things for you. I find that nice that you can't just sit back and watch them kill the brutes for instance. I only had them kill one by themselves in all the ones we have fought and it took them forever to do it and I was preoccupied fighting other things at the time. It gets old when a game's NPCs kill everything for you, it kind of defeats the purpose of you playing.
The only downside to the other characters are that they get in the way. You are running around dodging shots and swings aimed at you and then all of sudden your character jolts to a stop when you were expecting to go left. Enter your allies. It's a touch frustrating when you get stuck because they are in your way and you are taking blows to your limited life span. However I do like that they are making it realistic by not allowing you to simply walk through them. You can make your allies move, but it takes some persistence.
The only glitch I have encountered while playing was while I was zoomed in on an enemy crawling forward to play sniper, I somehow crawled behind a shield barrier wall and a lower retaining wall right in front of it and got stuck when I unzoomed. I couldn't back out or go forward in either normal view or sniper view. Ultimately I got out by hitting the transformation button and it popped me free of the wall.
I agree with the other reviewers earlier in the thread who said that they were disappointed with the options for creating your own character. Like them I had wanted to take my old HMW team and transfer them to the game, but you are limited to 4 types of characters and limited colors. Maybe if we are lucky they will eventually create a buyable download which would allow more customization or upgrading to your characters?
I really like this game. I would play though the campaign a couple times to collect all the trophies, but most of the replay value is going to be with your friends over or playing against others online since game play in campaign mode is of course linear since it is story telling. I hope that they come out with a sequel. I would really love to see a game made that was designed like Fable, where the storyline varies depending on the choices you make and one where you can simply create a character (either in normal campaign mode or in online mode or both). Don't know how likely that is though. I would totally recommend this game to other people.