Transformers: Prime – The Game

TP
4 Overall Score

Level Length good for young audiences | Mechanics are quick to learn

Choppy cinematics | No difficulty choices | Awkward camera angles

Written by on November 23, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , ]

In their infinite wisdom, Activision has decided to celebrate their amazing Transformers: Fall of Cybertron game by releasing Transformers: Prime -The Game. The newest game is not based on the classic Transformers animated series. It, instead, finds inspiration from the updated series on the Hub television channel (now available on Netflix). The series, featuring young American-ized anime kids who have bonded with the legendary Autobots, has earned several daytime Emmy awards. Activision even managed to use the voice actors from the series. The result is a tribute to the old Transformers classic with added cutesy factor.

Cuteness is not necessarily a deal killer but it does not bode well when one finds out this title is only available for the Wii, the Wii U, the 3DS and the DS. I am personally a huge fan of Nintendo consoles big and small. My concern comes when third party games are developed for these systems with the assumption that they are lesser consoles and deserve only a small portion of creative game development.

The Nintendo DS version of the game has the distinction of being the only version designed by Altron. This version of the game is limited to just the story mode of the game. This adds a whole new level of concern. Did NowPlus, the designer for the other versions, feel unqualified to create a respectable DS title or did they feel it wasn’t worth their time? Did Altron give the Transformers a proper tribute for the DS or go for the quick cash grab? Let’s take a look.

The story is fairly straight forward and if you blink you may miss it. Basically the Decepticons have found a mysterious meteor that may give them the power they need to destroy the Earth and the Autobots. The Autobots includes Optimus Prime (of course), Arcee (the token female), Bulkhead (the big dude), Ratchet (the mechanic/medic) and Bumblebee (my favorite ‘bot that speaks in buzzing bee noises). They are joined by their young human friends Jack, Miko and Raf. The Decepticons include Starscream (the annoying screeching minion), Airachnid (the female) and Megatron.

The game is a three dimensional action brawler pitting the player as various Autobots against the Decepticons. The game is divided into stages that are a reasonable length with several checkpoints. These checkpoints mean that mission failure does not result in starting the stage completely over, which is nice. There may be short interludes of action and racing but the game’s focus is on the big battles. As a matter of fact, the last half of the game is dominated by a string of boss battles with little or no rest between them.

The game culminates with the requisite Megatron versus Optimus battle but the final battle is saved for the super huge ‘bot known as Thunderwing. This battle is fought in several rounds while Optimus, with the help of a brave young human, systematically weakens the humungous robot.

All of the big boss battles made me wonder if the game should have done away with the action story and settled in as a pure brawler fighting game. The boss battles were good fun and the opportunity to play them as quick play matches would have made the game more entertaining.

I believe a game based on an animated series geared towards a younger audience should have features that cater to those same younger gamers. The most basic feature is allowing different skill levels to play the game. This game has no option to change difficulty levels which is a real shame.

Another miss is the way most hints are given during the game. While in battle the game will give hints on what to do with very quick flashes of text on the screen. If you miss the text because you can’t read it then you may miss an important detail on how to complete the level. A better option may have been to add short audio narration to help guide players.

This game is based off an award-winning animated series but game designers have chosen to use extremely choppy and vague still frame slide shows for most of their cinematics. I am not sure if this is a result of trying to save money or if this is an assumption that the DS is not capable of handling true flowing cinematics but it is a disappointment. Transformers: Prime’s graphics style is so choppy that it is extremely difficult to follow the story. The only blessing is that the player can choose to skip any of these sequences. Luckily the story is not a critical element of the game.

Games like OkamiDen from Capcom and Professor Layton from Level-5 are just a couple third party titles that manage to use still graphics along with easy to read narration text to tell amazing stories successfully. They also manage to showcase the unique technology such as the dual screens and touch screen of the DS. The cinematics in those games flow seamlessly between action sequences.

Overall the mechanics are pretty simple with quick combos and ranged blasters. Turning into vehicle form allows new abilities such as faster speeds, jumping further and slamming into opponents. Robots are able to earn blaster upgrades and shields. The player can change forms quickly at any time to accomplish their goals. This is a nice feature and well done.

I got all the way to Stage 8 before glitchiness almost forced me to quit entirely. Here the Autobot Ratchet must escape through a series of rooms connected by corridors sporting deadly lasers and Decepticon minions. Several areas involve pressure pads that briefly open new areas. These areas are combined with obstacles like lasers and jumping platforms. One such area late in the stage became my nemesis. Sadly, after opening the door, avoiding the moving lasers and successfully leaping across each of the platforms, on arriving at the open door my access was mysteriously denied by some invisible barrier. I attempted this area many times with the same result.

One of the most frustrating mechanics is the camera angle. The game makes it simple to lock onto enemies and blast or melee the baddies into submission. When the player must navigate around obstacles and around the area the camera is extremely slow in updating the player’s view. This can be extremely difficult to move quickly and smoothly through spaces.

Overall the game has remained true to the series if only in the most superficial way. Was this version merely a quick cash grab? After watching several gameplay videos for other versions of the game, I do think that they made an effort to include much of the game available to those on the 3DS and the Wii consoles. Unfortunately this version includes the basic story without adding much depth in gameplay. It is unknown why this version ignores aspects such as collecting awards, upgrade options and multiplayer mode. If these features had been included, they may have helped to distract me from the more frustrating elements of the story mode. Without such distractions, however, I was left to focus on the awkward cinematics, the lack of different levels of difficulty, horrible camera angles and the glitchy mechanics. The result is an experience I can’t recommend to anyone who is not a die-hard fan of the animated series.

A copy of Transformers: Prime – The Game was supplied to the Married Gamers for the purposes of this review.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

One Comment on "Transformers: Prime – The Game"

  1. Patrick Cassin November 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    The front page image looks so much like the Just Dance 4 review below it that I was expecting either the Transformers to start dancing or the dancers to transform into robots.
    Neither happened, and I was disappointed.

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