Now with rocket-launcher equipped strafing cars!
There hasn't been a whole lot to get excited about for Transformers fans lately. The second Michael Bay movie was the cinematic equivalent of idiotic high school kids lighting their farts on fire (or so I'm told... I didn't go to see it in the theater or anything, I swear!), so the prospect of the third film is none too appealing. The game based on it, however, is intended to be the spiritual successor to last year's critically acclaimed War for Cybertron, which makes it the next Transformers product that ought to warrant your attention.
[image1]We got some precious hands-on time with both the single- and multiplayer components of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and from what we've seen, High Noon has successfully recreated the gameplay, style, and robotic carnage that made WfC the only good Transformers game in... well, maybe ever.
The single-player campaign puts you in control of a different robot in each level, running the mechanical gamut from speedy Bumblebee to hulking Megatron. Like its predecessor, the gameplay in DotM is third-person shooting that's kinda-sorta Gears of War, but without the explicit cover system and with the obligatory giant, transforming sentient robots. This time around the vehicle modes have been upgraded with “Stealth Force”, giving them heavier firepower and more tactical movement ability to almost be on par with robot modes in combat, if not even a little better in situations requiring high mobility (although I still have no idea how a sports car can possibly strafe).
The various transformers have differing special abilities which alter the way they approach combat. Bumblebee can use an advanced radar function to see the locations of all enemy bots around him, marked with red arrows even when out of line of sight. A very sleek ninja-like Autobot named Mirage has a stealth cloaking ability instead, letting him sneak around to gain an edge in battle or avoid it altogether. Megatron, on the other hand, is predictably all about plowing through anything in his way; his ability is a vampiric draining attack that steals all the juice out of nearby enemies and heals him in turn.
[image2]The multiplayer in War for Cybertron had a lot of promise but not a lot of players. DotM does multi-player very similarly to last year's game, offering the same types of classes (with different names this time around) to give you options in your play-style. We tried out the traditional team deathmatch, but had a lot more fun with the capture mode, challenging each team to hold three different capture points longer than the other.
What makes the multiplayer different from other games is the advantages and disadvantages of switching between vehicle and robot modes. As mentioned before, the vehicles do have a bit more firepower than you might be used to, but they're still more for mobility and less for slugfests. Furthermore, you've got the added distinction between air and ground vehicle modes, which adds a whole other dimension to exercising your team's control over the map.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is set to arrive mid-June, a couple weeks before Michael Bay's slo-mo abusing, self-gratifying explosion-fest. Something tells me that for once, the video game will be better.