Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen: The Game may suffer from movie-tie-in-double-colon-itis, but it seems that the title might buck sceptical expectations and offer something quite impressive. We recently had the chance to go to a hands-on preview event for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii versions of this multi-platform transform ’em up, behind the inauspicious black door of Soho House in Central London.
The assembled journos were treated to a short introductory presentation from Joby Otero, Chief Creative Officer at Luxoflux, the developers behind the Xbox 360 and PS3 version. Quick to flash the geek credentials, Otero characterised the studio as a bunch of grown men who still play with their toys, and regaled the group with an anecdote regarding one team member refurbishing his apartment with storage for his ample Transformers collection in mind.
With our nerd-radars piqued, Otero laid out Luxoflux’s three point strategy for Revenge Of The Fallen, saying that they wanted to focus on player choice, multiplayer, and the central gameplay mechanic of transformation, trying to appeal to fans with a varied cast of playable Transformer characters, but also appealing to a general audience with distinctive gameplay and online action (for more on this, see our interview with Otero here). With that in mind, we were escorted to another room to try out the game.
Xbox 360 / PS3We started with the multiplayer, with the group split into two teams of four – one Autobots, one Decepticons. To ease us in gently, we were allowed to individually play through a short tutorial stage.
The basic controls, which are based around three distinct states, are initially overwhelming, but soon show their intuitive qualities. In true third-person action style, the left and right sticks control the character and camera respectively, with the face buttons governing jumping, melee attacks, climbing and the chosen character’s special attack. When either the left or right trigger are pressed, the character either transitions into aiming their ranged weapon, or transforms into their vehicle form (which, depending on character, ranges from a speedy Chevrolet Camaro to a heavy-duty combat helicopter).
The transformation gameplay mechanic is smooth and adds an extra dimension to the proceedings, allowing quick getaways on the fly, as well as more advanced tactics, like using boosts for higher jumping, and powerful transformation melee attacks.
Crucially, this adds an extra layer of distinction and balance in the game’s roster of characters, making the selection process all the more engrossing. Revenge Of The Fallen features the most playable Transformers yet achieved in a video game adaptation (including Starscream, Long Haul, Grindor, Ratchet and Breakaway), and the depth in their creation makes the choice far from arbitrary, and more like what you’d find in a class-based game like Team Fortress 2.
The different characters are defined by three core stats (endurance, firepower and speed), their primary, secondary and special weapons, as well as their distinct vehicle form.
The first game was straight-up team deathmatch, and we chose to go with Sideways, a fast, but weak sniper whose vehicle form was an Audi-like sports car. The main map was a hemmed-in expanse of urban sprawl, complete with varied landscape in the form of skyscrapers, rat-run side streets and freeway overpasses.
At its maximum, the game supports 4 vs 4 team games, but this was more than enough for all-out carnage, with enemy plane and helicopter characters zooming through the sky and large ground-based robots leaping from building to building.
It is obvious that multiplayer was a high priority for the development team, especially when the other game modes came into play. In total, Revenge Of The Fallen has 5 game types, with Deathmatch, One Shall Stand (like VIP/assassination), Control Points and Battle for the Shards (like Capture the Flag) alongside the aforementioned Team Deathmatch.
With a quick play of Control Points, in which each team must capture and defend 5 points scattered across the map, it became evident how complex strategy and team play are integral to the game. Initially thinking heavier characters and brute force would suffice, our Decepticons team was easily brushed aside by a few well-placed (if sneaky) Autobot snipers.
The single player game, which is split into two separate campaigns for the two factions, is based around a hub-like setup, where missions are assigned, briefed and selected. The missions themselves are short and to the point, with none of the three stages previewed taking more than 8 minutes to complete.
These locales are spread across the world, and mirror the course of the film, including sojourns in Shanghai, Cairo and the States. The basic objectives of these levels are relatively simple, and involve bashing enemy robots, escorting injured ally robots, or facing huge boss robots. Taking place in a similar free-roaming cityscape as the mulitplayer, the single player world feels a little unpopulated, even drab – but the bite-sized chunks of hard-hitting action go down well.
The key to the single player game is replayability, with each level containing hidden objectives, and a ranking system based on completion time; certain characters become unlocked with progression through the game, which allows the player to go back and try an already-completed level with a new approach for a better score.
Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions were on display, with little noticeable difference between them. The fluid, detailed Transformer animations, and the tight, responsive controls were present in both. Bearing in mind that Luxoflux’s goals were to nail the gameplay and the multiplayer aspects, Revenge Of The Fallen looks to be a game that will do franchise fanatics proud, and entice the uninitiated.
Wii Alongside Luxoflux’s PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, we were also given the chance to check out the Wii iteration, developed as a totally unique game by Krome studios in Australia. In this version, you play through a more straightforward form of the smash-and-crash gameplay you’d expect from the Transformers licence. From a fixed, on-rails camera viewpoint, the player takes up the mantle of different Transformers in linear stages that recreate locations and moments from the film.
Unsurprisingly, the graphics are scaled back on the Wii console, but the gameplay is also much more simple and easy to pick up. Wii-mote controls include swingings vertically or horizontally for heavy and light attacks, or pointing at the screen for firing ranged weapons; transforming is kept to a minimum in most levels, apart from during special attacks. Certain levels are played as Transformers in their vehicle states, such as one stage featuring Starscream in his jet fighter form.
Ostensibly a single player game, the developers have added in an interesting co-op aspect, which, in the words of the team representative at the event, is like “the ‘girlfriend mode’ from Super Mario Galaxy on steroids”. The second player appears as a small flying robot, hovering over the first player’s shoulder; like in Galaxy, player two can fire at enemies, and has special abilities like a shield. Impervious to damage, this little buddy still has an energy bar that powers his attacks, which can be sacrificed to give player one a health boost.
While not as immediately-impressive as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen on the Wii still promises a wealth of replayability through a 2-player Arena Mode, where players battle against waves of enemies; there is also an achievements-like ‘feats’ system, and a treasure trove of unlockables, with concept art from both Activision and Hasbro.
All three versions of the game will be released on 26th June, along with further Revenge Of The Fallen games (which we didn’t get to try out) on PC, DS, PS2 and PSP.