Transformers: Dark of the Moon Xbox 360 Review

July 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Activision – Developer – High Moon Studios – Genre – Action – Players – 1-10 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS

High Moon Studios are the development team responsible for Transformers: War for Cybertron, a game that seemed to show that they had great respect for the licence. Obviously, as this third film tie-in was also put together by High Moon, Activision knew that the property would once again be in safe hands. But, whoever you may be, working against a deadline to create a game tie-in to be released alongside a blockbuster film can never be an easy task.

It may share the title of the film, although Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a separate story that takes place before the events that are flashing in front of cinemagoers eyes right now. Taking place three years after Revenge of the Fallen, Megatron and his Deception army have been quiet within this time, although that’s because they have been brewing up a plan. The story is decent enough for what it is, and fans will be happy to experience a tie-in with its own fresh storyline.

Visually, Dark of the Moon is rather mixed. The Transformers themselves are lovingly detailed, but some of the environments leave a little to be desired.

It’s with little surprise that Dark of the Moon plays a lot like War for Cybertron, but most of us wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Sadly though, it’s obvious that High Moon Studios had a tight deadline to work with, and the game suffers because of it. But the solid framework put down by War for Cybertron certainly remains.

The campaign is set over seven chapters, with you taking control of Transformers from both sides of the conflict. The giant robots each have two weapons and two abilities, which certainly keeps things feeling relatively fresh, even if the mindset of the game calls for robot destruction time and time again. This time around, it’s possible to transform up to three times: you can be a robot in one instance and a vehicle in the next. There’s now two vehicle forms (High Moon, you are spoiling us), one has you just driving along like a normal vehicle, while the other is Stealth Force mode: slower but with added weapons sticking out of the body, as well as increased armour and better manoeuvrability, including the ability to strafe. It’s just a shame that the driving isn’t particularly wonderful – poor physics spoil the fun, which is a real shame.

Given its perks, Stealth Force could become many a players’ choice of form, in fact it’s easy to succumb to completely relying on it, although there is a multiplier system for those who want it, and if you’re going for the big scores, this forces you to mix the combat options up to the best of your ability, making use of the melee attack of your robot form. Also, Stealth Force isn’t really practical in the tighter environments, and fans will obviously want to make as much use of the big robots as they possibly can.

The campaign is, at around five hours in length, very short. War for Cybertron had two five hour campaigns, although with Dark of the Moon you’ll just have to settle for a brief single campaign that merges both the Autobots and the Decepticons. Luckily, it’s a likeable enough campaign, and the developer has managed to get a bit of variety in there. But time constraints have obviously been the major factor that stopped the developer from expanding the campaign, which is disappointing.

Effort has been made in adding in some variety to the campaign. There's a stealth portion for example, and another bit has you taking control of a mechanical bird (above).

More positively, like War for Cybertron, there’s a few memorable boss encounters. There’s also a decent amount of variety in the environments, with everything from jungles, mountains, cityscapes and military facilities. But being that the game is set on earth, just don’t expect the type of imagination that we got with Cybertron – earth is always a dull place when compared to such alien planets.

Online options also make a return, although with only three modes and the removal of the Escalation mode, it’s limited. It’s certainly fun and being able to transform is something unique, but there’s just not enough here to keep players coming back.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a decent enough game; it’s just that the slightness of the campaign and the limited multiplayer lets it down somewhat. War for Cybertron is still one of the best Transformers games available, although in comparison, Dark of the Moon, while enjoyable enough, feels rushed and not really worth the current asking price.