Tuesday, June 23rd 2009 12:13pm CDT
Categories: Game News
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Posted by: Counterpunch
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Release date: June 23, 2009
Also available on: Xbox 360, PC,
Wii, PS2, Nintendo DS, PSP (All these have different content)
Suggested PS3 & Xbox 360 Price: $59.99
So…I have to start out by telling you all how I sacrifice and toil on your behalf. I arrived home from a long day of work on Friday afternoon (I left early because I felt like it) to find a wonderfully large package from FedEx on my doorstep. The sender was Activision and I freely admit to smiling upon seeing that. Inside the box was one of those Bumblebee Voice changer helmets from the RotF movie. Now, I don’t really buy a lot of non-toy merchandise, so this was a pleasant surprise for me. I promptly proceeded to put the helmet on and scare my dog.
Looking around inside the box a bit more, I found the item which I knew was the point of the delivery, a fresh copy of Transformers Revenge of the Fallen for the Playstation 3.
I spent the entire rest of the weekend eating pizza, drinking delicious summer ale, and playing through both campaigns as well as several multi-player scenarios, all for you. Fortunately, the wife was out of town on business, so there were few interruptions to my dedicated gaming. (Both of my PS3 controllers ran out of power during playing and if you know how long those things last, you’ll understand the kind of time I put into this game…) So, without further ado, I present to you Counterpunch’s No Punches Pulled Review: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen.
Look at Demolisher, rolling around like he owns the place...
Pro tip: Shoot him in the face.
Overall Impressions, Graphics, and Menus
Transformers games are a mixed bag. Up until this point, none of them have really gotten the Transformers concept fully integrated into gameplay. The Transformers Armada game from a few years ago had an exceptional grasp of robot battle and power-up usage, but the vehicle modes were really just conveyance and God help you if you ever got knocked down off a cliff (physics seemed to stop being relevant…). The Transformers Movie game from 2007 did well with environmental action and improved vehicle importance, but had difficult or poor controls and often times repetitive or frustrating gameplay. With all that in mind, I have great things to say about Revenge of the Fallen (Those who are familiar with taking advice from me may just want to get their $60 ready to go now) with only a few complaints.
The game opens up with a short intro movie which sets the scene for Revenge of the Fallen (RotF from here on out). Prime monologue establishes that the conflict continues and that one way or another, we’re going to have resolution to it. That’s where you come in. The choice is yours to play through either the Autobot Campaign or the Decepticon Campaign. I made it through both and the differences between them are as follows:
-Autobot missions focus more on bot mode tactics while Decepticons require more vehicle based tactics
-Autobots have escort and/or protect missions (make sure to read down further as I address the escort missions), while Decepticons have seek and destroy missions
-Autobots have a Devastator attack mission, there is no corresponding mission for the Decepticons
-I personally found the Decepticon missions to be harder overall than the Autobot missions. I don’t think I died in any Autobot missions until Devastator, where I know I fell at least a few times in the Decepticon missions. Oddly enough, the Autobots as enemies seem more aggressive, perhaps I was just tired…
Bumblebee: The first to have smelt it...
Depending on your choice of faction, you will find that your menus are drastically different. The Autobot’s menus are done in a shade of blue and have updates from your NESTS allies as you progress. The Decepticons have red menus which are flickering and scanning often, probably indicative of their desperate status after being hunted by the Autobots.
Every mission you take on has a briefing both before and after playing. Prior to entering combat, your faction leader addresses the situation and your goals. After the mission is complete, you get a rundown of events based upon your performance. This was cool…at first. It was really cool when I was busting heads and taking names, but became a little annoying later on when I would make gold ranking in a mission, only to be derided by Prime or Ironhide for missing too many shots or not taking on the secondary goals (some of which are relevant, others involve killing enemies while jumping… -_-.)
Ironhide is ALL ABOUT secondary goals...Believe me, he's going to tell you about it over and over again
I may as well go ahead and address the voice acting at this point. It’s really good. All of the characters* sound and act as you might expect them to. Cullen's Prime voice rings loud and true as he directs the missions. Starscream sounds imposing and desperate. Ironhide and Ratchet are both excellent in the vocals and characterization. Sam and Mikela both sound and talk in manners which replicate their on-screen personas. Sam gets carried away at times, possibly calling prime a ‘loser’ if you’re taking too much damage, but I can’t say it’s out of character. Also, a certain fan favorite makes an appearance to voice Megatron. Welker really seems to have been able to channel that old scratchy G1-esq voice for our head villain in charge.
Megatron?!? Is that you?..I need a hint or something...
*Personally, I found the G1 Megatron voice to be out of place and the portrayal of the movie universe Megatron to be off because of this. Starscream’s voice is deeper than Welker’s Megatron, I can’t say I liked that. Also, the vocalization for Megatron has him threatening his troops constantly at later levels of the game. With the amount of hero worship given to Megatron in the movie universe, I can’t possibly see how that is necessary. Most of the troops at his command seem ready to give their life for him, not need harsh motivation. None of this should take away from Welker's performance, it's just a continuity issue.
I took advantage of the audio capabilities that the PS3 and digital surround sound offer and it really added to the experience. Not much to say in that regard, but with the right set up, you’re going to be hearing everything.
Graphically, the game is top-notch. The in-game movies are all what we’ve come to expect from next-gen systems. All the gears, pistons, and panel moving are present in the details. The robots all move fluidly and the detail remains steady even in motion. I can’t say I remember blur effects hiding anything noteworthy. Environments seemed to be genuine in that if I shot between the posts of a sign, the ballistics would travel through, not hit an invisible barrier attached to the sign. If I was chasing someone down on the streets and caused destruction, the debris cloud was legitimately in the way. I spotted a couple of jaggies in one or two of the cut-scenes, but nothing distracting. Remember, I was specifically looking for them; you may or may not ever notice.
One last word on the menus; they’re intuitive and problem free to navigate. The only contention I have is the method of game save. This is a small complaint, but you need one save file for each of the campaigns, and when you load the save file, you can choose Autobot or Decepticon. If you choose the faction you did not begin with, the game tells you to start a new save file. Why is the option there once you’ve started play? The nervousness I felt when I thought I was about to overwrite my complete Autobot campaign compelled me to bring this up (it didn’t erase, don’t worry).
Controls, Difficulty, and Characters
If you remember the control issues from Transformers games in the past, put those fears and issues aside. This game controls very, very well. Remember when you played the first N64 Zelda game and it felt ever so intuitive? You’ll get pretty much the same feeling here.
The set-up is traditional, left analog stick moves and strafes while the right analog stick looks and aims. Jumping and basic melee are assigned to the face buttons. The L2 trigger enters into a free-range aiming mode where your gun reticle is brought up. Lock-ons can be achieved by looking in the general direction and depressing the trigger fully. The lock-on is absolutely necessary to actually hit things, but it does not hold your hand through the game. Enemies can juke your lock or just move faster than your rate of fire to avoid you. Skill must supplement the lock-on aiming. I eventually established a system of lock, shoot shoot, lock, shoot shoot which got me through most moving target issues. Ah, and of course, the very shooting we’re discussing is done with the R2 trigger while holding down L2, remember this, because it’s going to be important as you progress. R1 selects one of your two weapon systems.
Pro Tip: The game is easier if your strategies do not involve standing infront of three enemies and making them tired of shooting you...
Transforming is done by pressing and holding the R2 button by itself. Your character will quickly change to vehicle mode and begin to race off to where ever. In vehicle mode you’ll have firing abilities and several important combat/movement options. By pressing and holding either the attack, jump, or otherwise unused 4th face button and then letting go of R2, you will either advance attack, far jump, or area attack. These techniques become crucial as you progress in the game.
Now, the reason I asked you to keep that L2 issue in mind is this: the controls on this game are complex. The game itself controls really, really well. It does ask a lot out of you. You’re going to have multiple button presses, mode swapping, target locking, jumping, and dodging all to do within a few seconds. I didn’t mention how the controls can be altered in small ways depending on your transformation or if your character has hover mode. I will restate that the controls are excellent and very responsive, but they require practice and a fair degree of muscle memory. Don’t be surprised if in your first hour or two of playing when you attempt to shoot something only to realize you didn’t have L2 down before you hit R2 to fire and as such, you transform and race off.
Once the controls are in hand, you will pull of some exceptionally cool combat feats. I do wish that you were allowed a bit of training time before tackling Prime’s flight mode or Grindor’s helicopter mode.
The Autobots roster includes Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide, and Breakaway. The Decepticons have Megatron, Sideways, Long Haul, Grindor, and Starscream. I paired them up in order which most closely represents their corresponding character in the other faction. The correlations aren’t exact, for instance Breakaway is the Autobot sniper, where Sideways plays that function for the Decepticons. If there were bonus characters, I didn’t find them. Most missions are character locked into one or two choices until you make one of the in-game achievement objectives. I thought this was a bit strange in that there are times when the character/mission match up seems out of whack. I noticed that Long Haul gets a lot of mission time for the Decepticons on tracking missions when I wondered, ‘Wait, why not Sideways?’. Also, asking Bumblebee to take down Devastator by himself was a tad difficult. It makes sense in a David and Goliath kind of way, but it seemed like more of a Prime time challenge to me. These things don’t matter too much, because the achievements are easy enough to unlock all characters for missions.
Unless of course you're Optimus Prime. The rules are different for Optimus Prime.
No, really! He has ballistics shielding...
I found Ironhide, Ratchet, and Long Haul to be my favorite characters for ease of use and I found myself groaning whenever Grindor was required. Your mileage will of course vary with the character selection and will almost always be dependent upon your play style.
Where the first Transformers movie game was very difficult and at times downright unfair, this game is by comparison very friendly. So long as you manage to develop a strong grasp of the controls and integrate the numerous battlefield techniques into your gameplan, you will move along at a steady rate of accomplishment. I was ¾ of the way through the Autobot campaign before having to replay any level at all.
I have to admit to enjoying that aspect of the game. Video games are meant to be fun for me, not exercises in pulling out what little hair I have left on my head. By simply playing through both campaigns I had a completion rate of 65% for Autobots and 75% for Decepticons with around 40+% of the trophies for the game. I welcome any and all challengers to top that. I did not go back to replay any of the missions for higher medals and percentages, so, at least play by the same criteria if you want to rub your high scores in my face.
The game itself is relatively short per campaign. I don’t have an exact hour count for you, but a steady clip of playing and each campaign is beatable in a day. Perfecting your gameplay though for medals and achievements and unlockables will take a considerable amount of time. Single player does have some solid replay value to it because of those aspects. I don’t typically, but with RotF I certainly plan to go back through for higher scores and to use previously locked characters.
Now, way back at the beginning of this, I made a comment about escort missions. Any action, fps, or squad tactics game fan knows that two words (escort mission) can ruin a game. They are usually difficult, overwhelming, and hindered by idiotic and useless AI.
I’m here to tell you that the escort missions in RotF are a very enjoyable part of the game. I know, this is not something you’re likely to hear, ever, but it’s true. Same and Mikela stay out of the way when you fight, the goals aren’t absurdly difficult, and the NEST troops are downright helpful. There’s a canal mission early on where you must escort soldiers along a treacherous path. Take Ironhide in there and just kick some ass. You won’t have to babysit the troops, so enjoy the shoot out and aim to kill (and use that special ability turret!). The guide mentions the Deep-6 and Devastator mission as centerpieces of the game, but that canal mission was by far my favorite.
Now, we’re going to get down to it. Let me start off by saying, that if the first movie game left you unsatisfied or if you really enjoyed the Armada game but would like to see some refinement to it, then this game is for you.
The most important aspect that RotF delivers is the integration of the transformation gimmick at all turns. Whether you are traveling, fighting, or maneuvering you will be transforming on the fly. One mode does not make the other mode obsolete, each mode has advantages. Being able to shift to or from vehicle is integral to combat.
Sometimes in RotF you have to GtFO.
What we have in RotF is a 3rd person shooter with vehicle combat inherent to the system. I explained controls earlier, so I’ll get down to systems here. You have melee attacks of course. They build Overdrive meter the quickest. The game’s enemies do not allow themselves to be clumsily bludgeoned by you though, they will run away and shoot you, they will transform and drive away, they will dodge and self preserve. Which again, is why you must transform to chase or transform to build velocity for a lunging melee attack. There are powered up melee attacks by holding the attack button, but they were largely useless. There’s just no time to stand around for that stuff…
You’ll have two ranged weapons per character, both of which can overheat if fired without pause. Firefights are constant when combat occurs and you’ll be caught in cross-fire more often than not. Effective shooting and target locking are required. It can be difficult at times to deal with airborne opponents as they break lock with ease. Your vehicle will have weaponry as well and the mechanics for each vehicle work differently. Fair warning, the Decepticons require far more attention to vehicle power-ups than do the Autobots. Once that Overdrive meter fills, you’ll have 10 seconds or so of brutal one or two hit kill weapon fire available, so save it for when you’re getting overwhelmed or need to make a time goal.
Starscream you idiot! You're out of Overdrive... You fail me yet again...
Each mission/combat provides energon points based upon your gameplay. Completing a mission quickly, accurately, and with secondary objectives earns large amounts of energon. These energon points are used to power-up your systems and abilities. They’ll assist you in getting through the game and then become required in order to earn platinum and gold medals in missions.
Progression through areas is made by achieving medals in the various areas. You should move through the game with ease scoring silver and an occasional bronze medal. If you ever end up stuck with unopened areas, just go back and play previous missions for a higher score to proceed.
I covered escort missions earlier, so I’ll go ahead and discuss some of the other types.
-Communications fix/destroy, essentially you’ll have a set of radar dishes to either repair or infect with a virus. Each dish is like a checkpoint and you must clear out enemies before proceeding to deal with the dish. You then have a set amount of time before having to start over.
-Seek and destroy, you’ll be hunting down opposing troops and collecting heads with a likely boss fight at the end.
-Protect/destroy, either defending or attacking a building or character
-Satellite chasing, these are race missions with checkpoints etc. Finishing quickly allows you to attack an espionage satellite.
Now, my experience with this was limited due to the number of people online and my own personal time for the game. This is also where I may have the most issue with the game, but I’ll confess to being a terrible, terrible fps player to make it more honest.
The online multiplayer is smooth. Rooms are easy to establish, battles are easy to get into, and there was no lag to speak of. The environments were useful and appropriate. The radar, which I feel is essential for this kind of fight, is small and not all that helpful.
There is a deathmatch mode, capture the flag mode, control point mode, and a leader elimination mode. I've only been able to get into deathmatches so far. I hope some of the other bots like Bumblebee, Sideways, and Ratchet are able to come into their own in the other modes.
This guy read the abridged version of 'How to shoot your friends in the face.
My concern with multiplayer is not really a quality one; everything plays fine, but more a balance issue. Certain tactics were obviously abuse-able right off the bat. Breakaway can snipe while hovering far, far above everything else, he doesn’t need cover, just altitude. Starscream seems to outmatch any and everything without cover, and Powered-up Optimus laid waste to anything that got remotely close. Like I said, I’m bad at this kind of multi-player shoot out. but it was obvious right off which characters were easy to take advantage of. I hope good tactics and better players find a way around some of this, because the multiplayer plays well. I just don’t know how long I can stand getting sniped and homing missiled without those guys ever showing up on my radar.
-Excellent use of the Transformers franchise
-Abilities and characters do not become obsolete over time
-The game is corollary to the RotF film. You’ll play along side it, but you won’t re-live it.
-It’s fun…and honestly, I can’t restate how important this is to me as a gamer these days.
-Surprise cameos (is that…the aerialbots are attacking me? damn…)
Cons: (negatives, not Decepticons)
-A little short, perhaps a long attrition battle per faction would take this away
-Controls take practice, (always responsive though) at times you’re thrown to the wolves to adapt
-Megatron’s voice, I’m sorry Welker fans, but I personally feel Bay made the right call on Megs.
-Hearing Optimus tell me that I need to do better :(
Maybe I’m just hyped for the movie, maybe I’m just happy to see a well rounded and fun Transformers game, but as a Transformers fan I have to give the game a very good overall review. When I look at the play mechanics, the application of the transformation gimmick, and the immersion into the movie-verse, the game is very enjoyable.
I think casual gamers are going to eat this game up and really enjoy it. Hardcore gamers are going to appreciate it, but ultimately move through it quickly. Like the movies, it’s a popcorn event, flashy, loud, and intense. We aren’t telling a grand tale, we’re getting down with Optimus and blowing stuff up with Ironhide. We’re divebombing with Starscream and destroying a city with Megatron.
I’d recommend the game to most Transformers fans. There’s enough to do and plenty of challenges to be had and the immersion level into the Revenge of the Fallen story is great. I’ll be happy to answer any specific questions you might have and I look forward to getting my butt kicked by you all online.
Much easier than attacking the Autobot's Moonbase eh mighty Megatron?