Great sound design
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Stealth Force Edition is sure to have many Transformers fans scratching their heads. Despite being a Transformers game, the player never has a chance to transform. Instead, the title allows the Autobots and Decepticons to use “stealth force” abilities, which really shouldn’t be considered anything special. In the Transformers films, we’ve seen the machines use guns and rockets, but in this title, attacking is a special ability– a stealth force ability. Whether you’re driving around as an Autobot or a Decepticon, stealth force is activated by pressing the “A” button. When you do, your car will change (I wouldn’t call it transforming), and your weapons will appear. Every vehicle has a machine gun, and a rocket type weapon, but that’s about all there is to controlling your machine, and unfortunately the rest of the game isn’t more than meets the eye.
Stealth Force Edition is a mission-based game that loosely follows the plot of the movie of the same name (minus the Stealth Force). In the game, you’ll take control of a number of Transformers (Stealthforcers), and attempt to complete a number of objectives in each mission. There are a total of 18 missions, but in reality there are only three different types of missions. You’ll be tasked with driving through a number of relay points, destroying or protecting a number of targets, or simply surviving until the time limit is up. You can also replay any mission through the mission select mode.
Regardless of the mission type, you’ll be fighting against numerous opponents, which all nearly look the same. There are about three unique enemy models for both Autobots and Decepticons, and you see all of them within the first few levels. Despite there not being many Transformers in the films, these mass produced models continue to come out of nowhere, which can get really infuriating when you are trying to take on a real Transformer. These Transformers grunts each have a number of annoying phrases which you’ll hear all too often. Luckily, the game gives you the option of controlling the volume for voices. Again, there are fights with real Transformers as boss fights, but neither of you will actually transform. Instead both of you will try to take each other out with stealth force.
Where stealth force comes from is a good question, since it is common knowledge that Transformers have weapons, and stealth seems to imply something secret. While in stealth force, your stealth force meter will continue to deplete, and then you won’t be able to attack anymore. You’ll have to waste time driving around looking for Energon, which refills both your health and stealth force meter. This is something that you will have to do numerous times every mission. Nearly every level has a similar pattern: attack, get Energon, and attack again. Using your rocket attack uses up unique rocket ammunition, which you can find throughout the map, or you can get it by destroying an enemy.
Upgrades are also included on every map, and some missions may not be possible without them. Upgrades give you one of three temporary things: a shield, unlimited Energon, or unlimited rockets. Near the end of the game, the shield is your best friend, as fighting Megatron or the unlimited Transformer armies of either side will really be tough without one. The missions are fairly short, and it is likely you could play through the game without even trying to in a day or two.
Controlling your Transformer is as easy as moving the circle pad. It works for the most part, but becomes a pain when trying to do a sharp turn. It is hard to tell if it is a limitation to the circle pad, or if it is an issue with the game. When in stealth force, you can strafe in any direction, while turning with the “L” or “R” buttons. Rockets are the “Y” button and your machine gun is the “B” button. Each Transformer has unlimited machine gun ammo.
Unfortunately, the game’s presentation is as bad as its repetitive gameplay. The game looks like something that came from the PlayStation, so it is noticeably better than what you’d find on a DS, but doesn’t really use the power the system has. With some games looking as good or better than GameCube games, it is a shame to see a title that looks so old. The menus are plain, and not very fancy, though it is cool to see the Transformers logos move around on the top screen. There are only a few different environments, with most being in the desert, so they get boring very quickly. The best part of the game are the intro videos to the levels, which use an art form comparable to something like Uncharted: The Eye of Indra, with full voice acting to accompany it.
Despite the random grunt comments being annoying, the rest of the sound design couldn’t be better. Some of the Transformers cast from the movie did voice work for the game, including Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime. The voices are crisp and clear, and the orchestrated soundtrack sounds quite nice on the 3DS speakers.
In any game, gameplay is what matters, and there isn’t much of it here. What there is really isn’t any good, and looks quite outdated. Despite stellar cut scenes, and good sound design (for the most part), they simply can’t make up for the fact that the game itself is a disappointment. A Transformers game that doesn’t let you transform is like a Luigi’s Mansion game where you can’t use a vacuum. Even if you are the most hardcore Transformers fan, this is a game to pass up. If you’re a Stealthforcer fan, then by all means, get this game– I’m sure you’ll love it.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.