"I Am Nintendomus Prime"
It only took Transformers Prime the first half of its first episode to prove its sophistication and dramatic weight. The Hub introduced the show by promoting the breakout star Cliffjumper, a boisterous Autobot voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. They proceeded to unexpectedly kill him off in the first episode, brutally impaled while in Decepticon captivity. Worse yet, all of this was the backdrop for introducing the young human sidekicks, who were not greeted with the promise of a heroic adventure, but instead forced to encounter the horrors of war.
From that starting point, the Transformers Prime cartoon went on to establish itself as an epic story with far more depth than one would expect of a glorified toy commercial. While Transformers Prime: The Game for 3DS isn't quite as sublime, it's still a good game that far surpasses the low expectations of licensed games.
Like most Transformers media, Transformers Prime: The Game deals with the long, bloody (or at least oily) struggle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. These alien robots destroyed their home planet long ago, and moved their struggle to the planet Earth. Players control the Autobots over a series of action-adventure missions, switching between different characters. The cast from the cartoon translates well to the typical video game stat paradigms; for example, Bulkhead (the armored vehicle) has a lot of strength but moves at a glacial pace, while Arcee (the motorcycle) moves quickly but breaks easily. Most of the combat pits the players against hordes of Vehicon troops, but there are also boss battles against the main villains, such as the tyrannical Megatron, the treacherous Starscream, and the uncomfortably flamboyant Knock-Out (who throws a fit when you tarnish his paint job).
Since the title of the game is Transformers Prime: The Game, the characters can also transform into Earthly vehicles, perfect for faster travel, chase scenes, and building the momentum to make long-distance jumps. This is just one example of how the show's qualities are cleverly implemented in this game. Not only can transforming build up momentum for jumping, but it can also be used for close-quarters combat combos. Switching between shooting and hand-to-hand combat is as easy as cycling between vehicle and robot forms; you can even build up energy for a super-powered "Upgrade" mode, allowing a few seconds of overwhelming strength and firepower. The gameplay is intuitive and enjoyable in a way few licensed games ever achieve.
Despite its surprising quality, Transformers Prime: The Game is still a licensed game for a younger audience, so it's regrettably short and easy. Completing the game will only take a few hours in a dedicated sitting, and while you can go back to get better scores and unlockable medals, few players who aren't Transformers fans will have the incentive to do so. Also, while there is a fully-voiced storyline enacted through several cutscenes, it's not a particularly complex one, least of all by the show's standards. Gamers who don't care for Transformers might find Transformers Prime: The Game worth a rental, but there are plenty of high-quality 3DS games with broader appeal and length.
Those players who are fans of the show, however, will find plenty to enjoy. With voice acting from the cartoon's entire cast, and extensive dialogue capturing each of the characters' unique personalities, Transformers Prime: The Game feels just like an episode of the cartoon. The gameplay reflects all the fun of the series' battles, and the soundtrack is taken from Brian Tyler's epic score. Transformers Prime: The Game is already a perfectly good game, but if you love the source material, it becomes an absolutely great experience.
GameDynamo's Score for Transformers Prime: The Game (3DS)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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