Robots in disguise, indeed. We played the completed Wii version – get all the info you need to be ready for this summer's next big game-of-the-movie.
We all know about the Michael Bay big screen adaptation of the classic Transformers toys and animated series. Autobots (the good guys) and Decepticons (the bad guys) battle each other, with Earth as the unfortunate battleground. The movie tells its story from the human perspective, but Activision's big-budget game is all about the robots. From the start, you can play as the Autobots or Decepticons, each faction having its own campaign and its own version of the story. The Autobots' story sticks closely to the movie plot, while the Decepticons experience the same major events but with a revisionist angle – leading to a completely different (and, we're told, shocking) ending. Although you can't switch sides mid-campaign, you can start both campaigns on the same profile and play them in parallel.
"Deception" Trailer - Although this footage is taken from the "next-gen" platforms, the Wii version is identical except for the graphics and motion controls.
The game's production values are just as impressive as those of the movie, as both properties share character models, voice actors, music, and even sound effects. Childhood fans of the cartoon will particularly enjoy hearing the original voice of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) direct them through the game's missions. The developer, Travellers Tales, has worked closely with Michael Bay, Hasbro, and Industrial Light & Magic to make the game look and sound like the movie. Also, the introduction and ending movies were created by Blur, the same CG studio that worked on Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, among other games. The opening movie starts on Cybertron, home planet of the Transformers, and follows the sentient robots to Earth. You also get to see how Bumblebee chooses his form, the vintage car he will transform into as his disguise.
The game plays like a GTA-style open world game, although the environments are not as massive. Your radar shows you how to find the next mission, but you can explore freely between missions. There are plenty of items to collect for bonus missions, skill-based achievements (which unlock bonus content, like classic first-generation skins for Optimus and Megatron), and opportunities to wreak havoc upon the locals. You can pick up almost any object to use as a melee weapon or projectile, and jumping towards a building will let you automatically climb it, as in Rampage. You can also transform into your vehicle form at will and freely. The Autobots' car forms are much, much faster than their robot forms, so they are the best choice for when you need to get somewhere in a hurry, as is often the case in the campaign mission. There are also bonus races for the car forms. When playing as the Decepticons, the vehicle forms are mostly planes and helicopters, so you have much better mobility and access to the surrounding area. All of the vehicle forms are well armed, so you can and will enter vehicular combat situations. Another thing to mention here is that while all of the Transformers have different sizes, these are all very large robots who move around with a realistic heft. Everything they do causes damage to the environment, whether it's leaving footprints in the asphalt or denting buildings while climbing. When they fight, cars often become weapons and nearby buildings are often left in ruin.
There is a lot of combat in the game, and the controls take full advantage of the Wii's capabilities. Melee attacks are activated by swinging the nunchuk side to side. You pick up and throw objects (including stunned enemies) by swinging the nunchuk vertically. Each Transformer has unique light and heavy ranged attacks, which are fired with B and A, respectively. Aiming is handled with the remote's pointing function, which controls a targeting reticule. As you pass the cursor over an enemy target, you can press and hold Z to lock onto that object. The pointer also controls the game camera, as your view will pan around when the cursor reaches the edge of the screen. Therefore, the game may feel like the current crop of first-person shooters on Wii, although Transformers is strictly a third-person game. Jumping (robot form) and nitro boost (vehicle form) are mapped to "down" on the D-pad, while "up" transforms. Most combat is against drone robots of the opposite faction or military forces belonging to a secret government agency which is trying to keep the Transformers' war out of the public eye. Battles against major Autobot or Decepticon characters are usually reserved for bosses or mini-bosses.
One more note about combat – remember that Transformers is all about "Robots in Disguise". Often during missions, your radar will indicate several enemies in the area, but all you can see are normal-looking cars. You have to shoot up the potential vehicles until the enemy Transformers reveal themselves and start fighting. They can also get the jump on you if you're not paying attention; it's common to be driving around the city and suddenly find an enemy transforming and attacking before you're ready. Likewise, you may be able to surprise the enemies if you take care when driving around in vehicle form.
Transformers: The Game is single-player only, but it seems there will be a lot of content for fans to enjoy, with two full-length campaigns, bonus missions, unlockable characters, and other bonus content. There are four playable Autobots (including Optimus Prime) and five playable Decepticons (including Megatron), plus secret characters and old-school first-generation skins complete with classic vehicle forms. Also, this is a straightforward action game – there is no upgrading or leveling up, but you will gain access to more powerful characters in the later missions. The Wii version shares art assets with the PS2 version, but all of the console versions, including Xbox 360 and PS3, are essentially the same game (and were developed at the same studio), just with slightly different controls and graphics on each one. Look for this game to be released just before the film in the last week of June, and about a month later in PAL-territories.