Staring Into The Sun: Transformers

By John Walker on July 27th, 2007 at 11:43 am.

Well, I hope Alec will be eating humble pie over his denouncing of the new Transformers game. I read on The Sun’s website that the game deserves 81%! Alec, the shame.

Amazing disguises.

Let’s analyse this critical masterpiece, mostly for the benefit of my formerly esteemed collegue so he can learn where he went so horribly wrong. It begins:

WHAT’S THE STORY? I’m declaring an interest now as a big fan of the Transformer cartoon series from the 80s.

Unfortunately this game is instead based on the big blockbuster movie out next Friday – which can’t ever be as good as the original.

But it does put the fate of the Earth in your hands as the good Autobots and evil Decepticons battle it out causing havoc on our planet.

See – Alec never mentioned the seven thousand Transformer dollies he has decorating every flat surface in his house. This journalist has the integrity to state his bias from the off. He also makes the excellent critical judgement of declaring a film he hasn’t seen yet to be worse than a cartoon he remembers from twenty years ago. That’s the sort of gumption a good critic thrives upon.

HOW DOES IT HANDLE? It’s actually a really enjoyable play that provides immense satisfaction as you watch cars, trucks and planes transform into their robot alter-egos.

And twice the characters makes for double the fun as you harness their travelling skills as well as their brutal fighting powers.

You can choose to join either side in the action and the story slightly changes depending which viewpoint you are looking at it from.

We learn something very important here that so many of the critics easily forget: The number of characters is directly proportional to the fun had. In doubling the numbers of characters by having them take two forms, this in turn causes the total fun quotient of the game to multiply by two. Some simple maths that Alec clearly couldn’t comprehend.

Gaming expert Jonathan Weinberg also identifies the core gameplay issues, not wasting precious words detailing the realism of the driving, or piffling information on what the game consists of, but nails what we all really care about: how much fun it is to watch the animation of the transformations.

SCREEN GRAB OR SCREEN DRAB? Graphically, they’ve done a good job transferring the sheer scale of the characters into the story and destructible environments.

All the favourites are there including Optimus Prime, Megatron and Bumblebee.

It’s just a shame the visuals owe far more to the cinema overhaul than the quirky charm of the animated version.

Before we go on, pray a moment of silence in reverence for “SCREEN GRAB OR SCREEN DRAB?“. Not only is half of it a pun, but it also rhymes. I noticed neither in Alec’s so-called blog post.

Now, you can go and read a hundred reviews of this game, but I challenge you to find another that identifies the game’s greatest graphical achievement: having the characters fit on screen. It’s all too often taken for granted.

Then rather than bothering us with complicated scientific data over what the graphics look like – which frankly no one cares about – Weinberg sees the bigger picture: he doesn’t describe the graphics, but what the graphics are depicting. And yes, while it’s nice that the graphics show us our favourite Transformers, it really is something of a shame that they don’t resemble the 1980s 2D semi-animated classics. A ridiculous oversight.

HOW LONG TILL I’M BORED? Transformers fans will not be disappointed as this is one of the better movie conversions out there. It is also a riotous adventure that sucks you into their world.

If you’re not big on the characters though, it’s one to steer clear of.

Writing for everyone, our Jonathan makes it clear that if you like this sort of thing then it’s a really good game you should definitely play, but if you don’t like this sort of thing, the game becomes rubbish and you shouldn’t play it. The riotous adventure that sucks you into its world is rendered void when you’re not a big fan of Transformers, and that’s important to know. I don’t remember Alec pointing that out.

There’s fun to be had here but that alone is not a Prime reason to transform your hard-earned cash.
VERDICT: 81%

At first glance it might appear that this sentence is utterly meaningless, passing on no information whatsoever, and then bemusingly contradicted with such a high score. But study it further and you’ll begin to see its true genius. And I’m not even talking about the double-pun-bonanza. Weinberg is providing a commentary far bigger than a simple judgement on a lone videogame. Is fun really something we should be spending our money on? Shouldn’t fun be free?

Alec – I hope you’ve learned something. Now go and stand in the corner until you’re sorry.

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2 Comments »

  1. Alec Neer says:

    Given his sole criticism of the game is that the characters don’t have the classic (G1, as dorks like me call it) look, it’s a shame he didn’t bother to look in the options menu. There he’d have seen listed the cheats that enable G1 versions of Prime and Megatron, and he could have happily scored the game 100%.

  2. Feet says:

    John is always at his best when he’s being scathing IMO.

    Good work, this made me chuckle.

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