Transformers: Cybertron Adventures Review

Bonus Content! The Transformers curse is broken. Except on Wii.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 07/12/2010 15:00 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Good voice acting; steady IR controls; no connection to a Michael Bay movie
Poison Mushroom for...
Not bothering to announce that it was an on-rails shooter before its release; not bothering to create a real action game; no transforming; far too short

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 scoring criteria.

Transformers: Cybertron Adventures Screenshot

The Transformers franchise has been a gaming disappointment the last several years, regardless of the console or handheld.  Wii owners, in particular, have been on the receiving end of two duds: Transformers: The Game (which was visually pretty but boring) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (which was visually subpar and allowed no real transforming).  Word from the gaming world, however, was that the winds of change were in the air and the latest round of Transformers games, centered on a war taking place on Cybertron, would finally realize the franchise’s potential.

The good news is that this is true.  The bad news is that this is true only if you have a console not called Wii.

Transformers: Cybertron Adventures for Wii is an on-rails shooter.  This fact by itself is disheartening enough — after all, Wii has more on-rails shooters than Larry King has ex-wives — but it especially hurts considering what the other consoles got.  PS3 and Xbox 360 — and even DS! — get third-person action titles where characters can maneuver around an open environment and transform at will.  Wii owners, instead, get a light gun style game where players are guided through a preset sequence.  No less an insult is the fact that while the Wii version technically features transforming, it is scripted and cannot be effected by the player, which really amounts to no real transforming at all.  This is the second consecutive Transformers game for Wii that has effectively stripped out the most important and satisfying element of the franchise.

Mechanically, the game will hold few surprises to those familiar with the on-rails genre.  Transformers move through a series of scripted areas, blasting away at an endless horde of similar-looking enemies and scoring points.  The Nunchuck analog stick selects among four different weapons (sniper rifle, gatling gun, missile launcher, and either a blaster or charge cannon), while the IR is used to fire.  Like Time Crisis, player characters can duck behind objects and come out to shoot.  Reloading is handled automatically while behind cover.  Changing things up a bit are the vehicle sequences.  Here players accelerate with Z, steer with the analog stick, and aim (to a degree, anyway) with the IR.

This formula is full of drawbacks.  For one, the game is very brief (as most on-rails games are), with sixteen missions total across the Autobot and Decepticon campaigns.  Sixteen seems like a lot, except that since this is an on-rails shooter, those missions aren’t more than 10-15 minutes and the entire package isn’t worth more than a few hours.  There is a “challenge mode” to replay each level, but it’s essentially a replay of the story mode and the “challenge” objectives aren’t very compelling.  The overall difficulty isn’t very compelling either; since players recharge health while ducked behind objects, only a terrible player will ever get killed in open combat.  An exception to that rule are the land vehicle sequences, which feature steering so unresponsive that even a good player is liable to go flying off a ledge and into oblivion.

Transformers: Cybertron Adventures Screenshot

The plot is equal to the gameplay.  It’s a scattershot tale of a war between the Autobots and Decepticons and some business regarding the gigantic Trypticon, but it’s so disjointed and scattered that it’s not really clear what’s going on.  Unlike the master storytelling in Dead Space Extraction (a very different kind of on-rails shooter), the plot here is simply doesn’t cultivate much beyond indifference.

The redeeming quality for most on-rails games is two-player co-op, but the execution in this game is a letdown.  For one thing, the reticules are small and hard to distinguish from one another in the heat of battle.  For another, the second player’s role is a bit of a mishmash.  During robot sequences, player two plays the role of the disembodied over-the-shoulder player, like in Super Mario Galaxy or its many imitators.  Player two can only shoot when player one isn’t crouched behind cover; this makes sense but it also means the players will have to communicate a lot.  Driving and flight sequences are somewhat different: here the game redistributes one of the duties usually reserved for player one, missile fire, a decision that suggests the developer wasn’t quite sure what to do with two players in these instances.

One other note: Nintendojo discovered at least one glitch in the game.  During our time playing the game, we would run into one of two different disc error messages while trying to boot up the title.  The errors always happened before the developer splash screen and they only occurred when a) using a Wii Remote attached to Wii MotionPlus or b) when playing with two players.  One of the errors could be circumvented by ejecting and re-inserting the disc, while the other forced a hard shutdown.

While much of the game is a disappointment, not everything is.  The graphics aren’t great but they’re decent, particularly the Transformer character models.  The voice acting is very good, spearheaded by the return of the immortal Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime.  The on-rails mechanics, such as they are, work well enough, and while the weapons aren’t that special, the game is good for a bit of action.  The IR, too, is spot-on.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day it’s hard not to be bitterly disappointed with Transformers: Cybertron Adventures, which continues a dismal trend for the franchise on Wii.  The game was, almost without warning, an on-rails shooter, despite the fact every other system got a full-fledged action game with all the bells and whistles one would hope for.  This is a slap in the face to Wii owners who have been flooded with too many on-rails “spinoffs” and not enough of the traditional content that Wii owners deserve.  In additon, the game is brief, easy, lacking good multiplayer, and bereft a coherent plot.  Fans looking for a worthwhile experience should turn their attention to another console or to DS, where the prospects are better.

2 Responses to “Transformers: Cybertron Adventures Review”

  • 441 points
    Terr says...

    Where as I haven’t played the game, Transformers not being up there on my need to play anything, you’re the only person, of the many I’ve talked to about, who didn’t love it to death. Nice to see a perspective from the other side.

    • 258 points
      Joshua A. Johnston says...

      There certainly has been a lot of praise heaped for the PS3 and 360 versions of the game, which finally realize what was only seen in flashes during 2007’s Transformers: The Game. The press, though, has savaged the Wii version, though, and I concur with their sentiments. This game is a cop-out, especially given the absence of (and I can’t stress this enough!) actual TRANSFORMING. It burns me up just thinking about it.

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