Scene, Sunday, July 29, 2007

“Transformers: The Game” starts out as great fun. Stomp across pavement as a giant robot, leaving huge divots in the asphalt. Blast the side of a building and watch it peel away, layer by layer. Leap onto the side of skyscraper and climb to the top.

Man, this is what robot-run-amok video games are all about!

Then the real game starts and it becomes an experience in frustration.

“Transformers” is an Activision game based on the hit movie of the same name. I tested it on Nintendo’s Wii, but it’s available on all platforms.

Gamers can play as either the good Autobots or the evil Decepticons. Both sides are trying to secure the powerful Allspark as they duke it out.

Along the way, the Autobots try to keep damage to human structures to a minimum. The Decepticons revel in it. Admittedly, it’s often more fun to play as the bad guys in this game. The problem is that you really can’t destroy too much before those pesky humans get in the way with their tanks and helicopters.

The basic game play is fun — although sometimes a bit repetitive. Melee attacks are handled by waving the Wii remote and ranged attacks by pressing buttons. With a quick press of a button, you can change into a car when playing as Bumblebee, a helicopter as Blackout or a truck as Optimus Prime, for example. You’re playing as a Transformer, after all.

The graphics are relatively solid. The different robots’ features and the structures are serviceable and those buildings sure do look good when you’re blasting them.

However, the level structure and the camera make the game frustrating.

The levels are few and short and the time allotted to complete many of the missions is even shorter. And checkpoints mean nothing: Fail anywhere along the way and you’re back at the beginning of the level.

The camera is controlled independently of the character. That’s usually good. However, in this case, the character’s orientation is often jerked in new directions during a fight, leaving the gamer wondering where the opponent went. Setting the camera sensitivity on “low” and constantly using the “center” button helped, but not enough.

It’s a good thing each new level brings a new batch of human buildings to bash in frustration.

Platforms: Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360

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