"More Than Meets the Eye"
Rather than down-port over the excellent Transformers: Fall of Cybertron from the Xbox 360 and PS3 to the Wii, Activision saw fit to provide the underpowered and kid-friendly console with its own unique take on the lasting Transformers property. A smart move on the publisher’s part as, unlike Fall of Cybertron, which has much of its foundation in the classic 1980s cartoon (and thus, much less appeal to today’s children), Transformers Prime is set in the same universe as the recent and successful Michael Bay movie trilogy. Luckily, the second season of the Daytime Emmy Award-winning Transformers Prime just wrapped up in suitably epic proportions. As such, now is as good a time as any to release a video game based on that hot license.
Frankly, it could have been enough to just slap the characters in the game with some haphazard narrative, call it a day, and watch the money come in. However, the developers did put a fair amount of effort into making it more than just your run-of-the-mill licensed game.
There is quite a bit of strategy inherent to the combat in Transformers Prime: The Game. You can lock-on and endlessly shoot with the Z and B buttons, respectively, with charged shots temporarily stunning your opponents. If said opponents are sporting a shield, you are required to transform into vehicle mode (at the tap of a button) and physically ram / attack them to briefly break the shield. Basic melee is controlled via Wii Remote swings. Thankfully, you are not required to flail madly for the movements to register; simple flicks will suffice to rack up decent, if not diverse combos. As you dole out and take damage, a bar will increase, and, when full, it will allow you to temporarily upgrade your combos and increase your strength.
Each portion of the Transformers Prime campaign is split up into missions where you take control of specific characters, but they all control pretty much the same. Upon completion, you are then graded on your performance with various elements taken into consideration (completion time, damage inflicted, etc.). Progressing through the main campaign and doing well in the rankings unlocks story scenes, concept art, and extra characters for use in multiplayer.
The multiplayer mode in Transformers Prime: The Game is pretty limited and consists of a few local play modes. Each mode can host up to four players, with computer controlled A.I. stepping in if you do not have enough people to play with. The modes are pretty basic, tasking you to either hold onto an emblem for as long as possible while the other players try to steal it away, be the last one standing in a versus brawl, or tally up the most kills.
I am an avid fan of the show, so certain aspects of Transformers Prime: The Game did not jive with me - mostly technical things like the Autobots having quick access to their enemy’s mobile base of operations via a portal. The show goes to great lengths to emphasize the difficulty the heroes have in finding the Decepticons’ airship, so it being so easily accessible is a bit jarring. It is obvious early on that with the presence of certain, would-be indisposed characters and the use of incorrect in-universe terminology, the narrative of the campaign is well beyond the television series’ canon.
If you can manage to get past these storytelling issues (and considering the target audience of the game, it should not be that hard), the game as a whole is pretty solid. The music is fantastic, taking cues from (if not lifting wholesale) the show. With each and every one of the show’s original voice actors lending their superb talents to their characters here, the presentation is absolutely fantastic.
Again, considering the intended audience, the game is incredibly easy, and you can complete the main campaign in a few hours. The storytelling lacks attention to detail, but the story itself is both intriguing and executed quite well. The presentation is top-notch, and spending some quality time with these familiar characters is a treat. Transformers Prime is a fine experience.
GameDynamo's Score for Transformers Prime: The Game (Wii)
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