TRANSFORMERS: Dark of the Moon Review

It’s been about a year since High Moon Studios brought us TRANSFORMERS: War for Cybertron and it was arguably the best the game released featuring the brand name. Last week the official sequel, TRANSFORMERS: Dark of the Moon arrived on our doorstep – while it shares the name of the upcoming film the story is allegedly a lead-in to the film. I think this title rolled out just a little too quick though and I’ll explain why.

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Dark of the Moon feels like a stripped down version of the previous game, and while it’s not all bad it’s definitely a much weaker release. While WFC featured a ten mission campaign evenly split between Autobots and Decepticons, the team took a different approach with Dark of the Moon. Now you’ve got a single campaign spread over seven chapters and you alternate between the Autobot and Decepticon missions at preset points. The plot felt like it was lacking and it didn’t really give you any time to get attached to any character or particular goal – plus it seemed to be over in under a five hour run. Take note that the four player online co-op mode has been removed for this sequel as well – explain that one to me.

Initially I felt like the game was spiraling down a drain after the first 5 minutes because you find yourself driving and blowing up waves of drones and it lacked any sort of challenge.  Hit a switch, drive and blow up more enemies – repeat. That’s a pretty solid summary of the first two chapters of the game which leads me to believe Michael Bay got his hands on the development of this game.  Early on in the campaign you won’t really find a need to transform to robot mode, and you’ll be staying in the new hybrid mode. The new hybrid mode will be the most useful addition in the entire game as you’re in vehicle form, you still have weapon access and the weapons in this form are the most destructible in the game, plus your armor is extremely tough when compared to robot form.

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It’s not all bad though! Some improvements were made to better the campaign and multiplayer experience including regenerating health and ammo meters.  You’ll no longer be limited to melee when you can’t find ammo or energon cubes because your meters regenerate if you’re not taking damage for a few seconds.  Things managed to pick up at the third chapter and stayed semi-strong and allowed you to use a somewhat even mix of all forms and experience the game in a various ways including some fun stealth gameplay. There were, however, a few parts that that seemed extremely repetitive and pointless. Boss battles lack the challenge and originality from the previous game but the final battle itself did redeem the game to an extent.

Multiplayer is nearly identical to the first game although you’ve only got a handful of modes to play including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Conquest.  Escalation Mode hasn’t made a return appearance either so the multiplayer has been cut down from what it used to be. It’s not nearly as robust as it was in War for Cybertron- though the same can be said for the single player as well. Despite a few small class changes the game plays the same, but it lacks the customization with weaponry that was a big highlight in High Moon Studios’ previous work. If you actively played War for Cybertron online, you likely spent many hours grinding levels online to reach the goal of Prime Mode, but Dark of the Moon players will find they can reach max levels in 2-3 hours with ease. Simply put – there’s just not that much to offer.

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Dark of the Moon did make use of the same engine as the its predecessor so the worlds still look pretty good although various design choices have some levels looking much more detailed than others. Everything works and I didn’t encounter any major glitches aside from a quick checkpoint reload as the game wouldn’t progress. The voice acting is almost on par with War for Cybertron but you’ll be disappointed once you hear Soundwave speak. His classic G1 voice is gone and it’s been replaced by what sounds like a variation of Megatron and Arnold Schwarzenegger – hearing it almost brought a tear to my eye. The remaining characters including Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream and Iron Hide seem to sound as they should. One of the bonuses of being a movie tie-in was the inclusion of the the theme from the films – brilliant piece of work and it sends a chill down my spine when I hear it play in the game.

TRANSFORMERS: Dark of Moon isn’t a terrible game but it lacks a lot of the features and content that made War for Cybertron so special. A short and messy campaign, a lacking multiplayer, and the removal co-op and escalation modes hurt the replay value and push this title closer to a bargain bin purchase. I’m not sure why the game took such a different turn and we’ve seen what High Moon Studios is capable of but this definitely isn’t their best work. Let’s hope they redeem themselves in another TRANSFORMERS  game that has no movie tie-in whatsoever.

This review is based off the Xbox 360 version.

It still plays like WFC, but it lacks customization and variety that we experienced in War for Cybertron.
Using the same engine, the game still looks pretty solid in most areas, but some earlier levels could definitely be improved.
Most voice actors returned, but Soundwave's voice sucks - that's right - IT REALLY SUCKS. The addition of the official movie score is a bonus - great music in the films.
7.0Final Score



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