"And they said it couldn't be done!"
All the Transformers games have had Wii versions, and none of them have been very good. War for Cybertron famously took the “light gun shooter” route. Game reviewers have been joking for years that someday they’d make a Wii Transformers game that took out the transforming. Ladies and gentlemen, that day has come.* The title refers to the cars transforming (stealthily?) into cars with guns. The whole concept comes from a minor sequence in the awful, awful film, in which Bumblebee decides to give those Decepticons what for in the same way. Let’s take that thirty-second action sequence and stretch it into an entire game concept. This game was built on a rock-solid conceptual foundation.
Stealth Force doesn’t feature any in-game transformations. Robots transform in cutscenes, but the cut-scenes themselves are little more than Flash animations with Peter Cullen phoning in the narration. During actual gameplay, you drive around in vehicle form and transform (slightly) into a car that has guns popping out of it and controls differently. In “stealth force” mode, you can strafe. The control scheme is actually pretty abysmal: you drive around with the control stick in vehicle mode, but switch awkwardly to the D-pad in “stealth force” mode. You’ll switch between Autobots, as they try to stop the Decepticons from awakening Shockwave (if you’ve seen the movie, you know how that turns out), and Decepticons, as they try to hold back the Autobots. The problem (the problem?) is that every mission feels like a badly put together deathmatch from Twisted Metal. You drive around shooting other cars until you run out of missiles, at which point you retreat, find more missile pickups, and go back to business. Health and special defensive items are scattered around each map, and each Autobot has a chain gun with unlimited ammo should the need arise. But it seriously took me 20 minutes to shoot down a door because Optimus had to keep going back to replenish his missiles and, en route, take on all the respawning Decepticons in his way.
Every. Freaking. Time.
At least the graphics are—wait, what am I saying? The graphics are terrible. Bare-bones car models that would look out of place on PS2 games drive around boring environments with flat textures that all look like re-skinned versions of each other, though a few do have buildings. You will hear the same voice samples and sound effects endlessly until your brain explodes. Sometimes there’s no music…at all. The cutscenes feature horrible writing and animations that make Super Meat Boy’s cutscenes look like Avatar. This is not a good game by any stretch, and I should probably mention again that it’s a Transformers game that has undercut the core mechanic of the entire franchise: transforming. And isn’t that all you need to know? The game does feature six co-op missions for split-screen local play, but why would you put someone you love through this torture?
*That day actually came around the time Transformers 3 hit theaters. I received this review copy at about the same time my Wii decided to stop working, so it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, collecting dust.