The Autobots (Zach) and the Decepticons (Neal) duke it out in this two-man review.
[Editor's Note: As we did with last year's Pokemon Mystery Dungeon review, we decided to have two reviewers combine their thoughts into one article due to the virtually identical nature of the titles involved. – JL]
Neal Ronaghan: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is based off of the successful film of the same name, and it comes in two similar flavors for DS: Autobots and Decepticons.
Zach Miller: I played the Autobots version and the plot is almost totally unlike the movie. In fact, Megatron is the final boss instead of The Fallen. Your character arrives on Earth as a protoform and scans three vehicles (you get to choose which one you want to be), then you instantly start fighting for the Autobot cause.
Neal: The Decepticons version focuses on the villains of the Transformers world. The game begins with your characterlanding on Earth and getting discovered by Starscream and his team of evil Transformers. You join their cause and set out on various missions to try to capture what in movie lingo are known as Macguffins. In other words, important stuff you need to get, or things you have to do.
Zach: There is a mission structure in which you choose one of several missions from a world map. Once several story missions have been completed, you can pick three optional missions to collect bonus Energon (Transformers-speak for experience). The Energon that you collect by defeating enemies and searching the environment can be spent on attribute upgrades, though the higher you go, the more expensive each upgrade becomes.
Neal: Gameplay is generally action-packed. You take on short missions that involve simple goals, such as "defeat all the enemies" or "protect this base." The only problem is that these missions eventually start repeating the same few objectives over and over again, and the difficulty of these levels ramps up quickly.
Zach: Exactly. There’s usually a time limit, and that time limit is unforgiving. Be prepared to retry the same mission over and over again until you get it just right, although there are only a few times when this is actually frustrating. The Autobots don’t do a whole lot, though; most of the mission consist of bomb defusing and escort defense. If these guys aren’t scanning bombs to disarm them, they’re actually picking the bombs up and throwing them away.
Neal: That's funny…the Decepticons do the same sorts of things.
The game does try to solve these issues with an upgrade system and bonus missions. Upgrades allow you to use Energon to level up different statistics that raise your melee attack, ranged attack, health, and more.
Zach: Also, most story missions have up to four "internal parts" scattered throughout the environment for you to scan. These can be swapped around between missions to give you automatic attribute bonuses, including new weapons (like grenades, rockets, and machine guns). All told, the customization options are pretty robust and allow players to tailor their robot to their combat style.
In all honesty, I found the bonus missions to be more fun than the story missions. They give you a nice easy goal: survive an enemy assault for three minutes, or race Optimus Prime around the city (collecting tons of Energon as you go). Boss battles are all the same and are kind of boring (strafe, shoot, scan something, repeat), but they don’t crop up very often.
Neal: The game's controls work well overall, but there is one problem. There is one attack button, yet there are two attack methods mapped to it. By pressing A you perform a melee attack; however, holding down the L button and pressing A locks onto the nearest enemy and performs a ranged attack. The problem is that your character moves when during the melee attack, and can often go right past the enemy and leave himself open for an attack from behind.
Zach: Unlike the Wii version of the game, Transformers DS allows you to transform between vehicle and robot form at will. While most of your time will be spent shooting down enemies in robot form, it’s often helpful to drive around as a car, as it’s quicker than walking. Both forms control very well.
The game looks great; even the transforming process is impressive. Robots move fluidly and are often surprisingly detailed. Environments usually don’t amount to more than geometric buildings and structures, but they can be quite large. The music is a little repetitious, but story missions are narrated by voiceovers, which is cool.
Neal: There's also an awesome online experience.
Zach: Yes! Revenge of the Fallen's greatest feature is the War Room, which takes you online where you fight to take control of Earth for your chosen faction. You can play seven unique missions a day, and your stats are uploaded to a server.
Neal: You can also gain ranks online, gaining even more Energon as you play these missions. While this is technically an online mode, you don't actually play online; you go online and select a mission, go offline and play the level, then go back online to upload your stats. It's a bit clumsy, but it adds wonderful longevity to the game.
Zach: I absolutely loved this feature, despite the fact that a few missions are brutally difficult. The War Room is great fun and very rewarding. I hope Activision supports it for a long time.
Neal: All of this makes for a meaty package, but the gameplay does feel repetitive and unfair at times. Revenge of the Fallen is clearly meant for big fans of the license, but is still a solid game on its own.