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Transformers Animated: The Game Package Art
GENRE
Platformer
DEVELOPER
A2M
PUBLISHER
Activision
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
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Transformers Animated: The Game

For the longest time, the Transformers seemed dead; then they had a big, summer blockbuster film and the franchise was back on top. Not too surprisingly, another cartoon series emerged and the merchandising soon followed. After all, the sole purpose of the original show was to sell toys.

The latest product in the Transformers line is a DS title, Transformers Animated: The Game, and the newest redesign was admittedly a little worrying. Everything about the game’s packaging screamed, “Quickie cash-in!” However, the designers at A2M have created something special by drawing inspiration from one of gaming’s less-remembered classics.

visuals

Transformers offers some spectacular visual design, due largely to the impressive engine running the game. Everything in the game is rendered in 3D and has a colorful palette that gives the world and characters a cel-shaded look. The solid aesthetics and animations make the game quite the eye pleaser, even if the new show’s art style is somewhat repulsive -– but that is just the opinion of someone who grew up on the original. The only gripe to be had about the visuals is occasional slow down, but this issue is generally infrequent.

audio

First things first: the new theme song is terrible. Every time the game starts up the song plays until the game loads. Thankfully, the rest of the music is unobtrusive, inoffensive, and works well in the background, even if it's not noteworthy.

The most impressive part of Transformers, aurally speaking, is the voice work. Every line of dialogue is acted out by the show’s cast and the delivery is convincing and exciting. The actors obviously took the project seriously and the game benefits greatly from it.

gameplay

Longtime Blizzard fans who get a chance to play Transformers will instantly recognize the core gameplay as the same as The Lost Vikings. While the classic title featured a trio of Vikings with unique abilities working in concert to solve environmental puzzles to get from one side of a 2D level to the other, Transformers simply swaps the Vikings for robots and replaces the pixels with polygons.

Your robotic team consists of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead. Optimus Prime’s abilities include an axe that can be thrown to hit enemies or switches and a grappling hook to climb up certain rafters. Bumblebee moves faster than his comrades, is the only one who can jump, and uses an electrical attack for combat and for powering generators that operate doors, elevators, and other items throughout the game. Lastly, Bulkhead moves like a sloth, but his strength allows him to move large objects, activate weighted switches, and clobber his way through some walls.

Each level is designed to require switching between characters to overcome obstacles on the way to stopping the evil Megatron. As the game progresses, levels grow in complexity and the later levels present some clever puzzles that are challenging without ever becoming infuriating. Keep this in mind if the early levels feel too simplistic. Also, the game's few boss battles are thoroughly entertaining, combining puzzle solving and combat in an entertaining mix.

The 2D platforming/puzzle solving is interrupted every few levels by driving sequences that are perfectly serviceable but do not quite live up to the rest of the game. Most of these levels require moving forward along a highway, while avoiding civilians, blasting enemy drones, and transforming between robot and vehicle forms. Thankfully, these levels are moderately entertaining and short enough to not grow tiresome.

Overall, there is only one serious gameplay flaw: the controls require constant swapping between button and touch controls. For most of the game, this is not much of a problem. Early levels move along at a slower pace and puzzle elements (button controls) are generally distanced enough from combat (touch controls) to make the transition reasonably comfortable. However, later levels intermix combat and puzzles frequently, and constantly moving between the touch screen and face buttons becomes a little awkward.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Transformers Animated proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable game that could appeal to more than just young fans of the television show. In fact, the game could be thoroughly recommended if not for one thing –- its length. With a story that can be completed in about five hours and no exciting unlockables, this title's length is almost crippling. Fortunately, solid gameplay and an entertaining presentation are enough to make this an above-average game that should please fans of the series and gamers desperate for a taste The Lost Vikings.

final score 7.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
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"There's SAND on my boots!"


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