Transformers: Dark of the Moon review

The Game

‘More than meets the eye’ is not a term I would use for this part-transforming summer blockbuster, where half of it explodes on-screen like Michael Bay and the other half goes down like a Go-Bot.

The Transformers movie tie-in series of games has been mediocre at best, and the third iteration is no different. Fuelled by the characters of the famous cartoon and film series, it’s the strength of this fandom that saves the game. The movie tie-in story and overall gameplay is lacklustre at best.

Storywise the game begins before the film’s action, with the Autobots attempting to sabotage the Decepticons with a virus and the latter retaliating by attacking human cities. Travelling across the world throughout various levels the player is given a number of objectives which don’t really connect to the film or have lasting effect on the story. Switching from the Autobot storyline to their foes should add some variety but fails.

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The controls feel smooth but are hampered by a terrible camera, and for a game which has a heavy focus on action – to mirror the explosive Michael Bay films – the stealth missions feel out of place and tedious. The voice acting is spot-on which is to be expected thanks to most of the film’s cast lending their talents, which includes some of the voice cast of the original cartoon series returning alongside some talented voice actors with years of experience. That said, I must state that Nolan North also provides vocal duties to this game; he’s the Samuel Jackson of video gaming only not as cool.

There’s really not much more that can be said about this game. It’s not very memorable and if you’ve played the first two in the series then you can rest easy knowing that you’re not missing out.

More than meets the ey- what the hell is that?!

The Film

Thank the Allspark! Having played the game before the movie I found myself worried that I’d not be entertained. I was so wrong… wrong in all three dimensions. After Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with its poorly judged comedic moments and swiss-cheese story Bay and his team of writers have managed to transform this film into something less comedic not to mention less focused on Megan Fox.

It begins with Optimus and the Autobots working with the US military to fight global threats by attempting to hunt down any trace of Cybertronian technology which would relate to Decepticon activity. This leads to a secretive operation in Chernobyl where the US military finds a piece of Cybertronian tech that – after a small Decepticon attack – the Autobots reveal to be part of a gateway system developed by the Autobots during the war for Cybertron (great game, by the way). This gateway technology was taken away by Sentinel Prime in a ship which was lost, only later revealed to have crashed on Earth’s moon and been discovered during the space race.

Angered by the American government withholding this secret of the moon, the Autobots travel to the lunar surface to explore the crashed ship – dubbed The Ark – where they find several more examples of the tech known as pillars along with the lost Autobot leader, Sentinel Prime. Upon returning to Earth Optimus revives Sentinel Prime with the Matrix of Leadership, followed by a far-fetched explanation as to how Cybertronian physics work compared to ‘our’ physics [Ed: I really shouldn’t be surprised that these films could be any more ludicrous]. After some stunning car chases and “Bay-splosions” we learn that Sentinel Prime has aligned himself with the Decepticons in order to rebuild Cybertron in a not-so-elaborate conspiracy with some treacherous humans.

Megatron and Sentinel Prime use the gateway technology to bring forth an army of Decepticons which briefly attack Washington – before the film cuts to the next scene leaving the audience to wonder where those Decepticons went after attacking the capitol of the USA. Flexing their robotic muscles, Megatron and Sentinel Prime demand that the Autobots leave Earth else more humans will die, forcing the American government to exile the Autobots aboard a rocketship. Moments after launch the rocket explodes, leading all to assume that the Autobots within were destroyed.

Optimus in his Prime.

Over in Chicago, Sam Witwicky is attempting to save his (new) girlfriend from a human conspirator and simultaneously throw a wrench into the Decepticons’ plans. And suddenly the Autobots return, with zero build up to this dramatic reveal, and team up with the remaining US military forces to stop the Decepticons’ plans of bringing Cybertron to Earth, constructed by an army of human slaves. There are no gravitational consequences to this, of course. After some slightly suspenseful moments and more action sequences the heroes win to little surprise and Optimus delivers an inspirational speech to warm our hearts before the credits roll.

Without a doubt the CG Transformers are the stars of the film which is why I mentioned the human characters as little as possible; honorable mentions to John Malkovich, however. The 3D truly adds extra depth to the film and brings the action sequences to an entirely different level of entertainment. This is the best 3D I’ve seen in a film since James Cameron’s Avatar.

My previously outlined theory continues to triumph with another good movie and bad game, much like Thor. The story is flawed and the dialogue is boring but the visuals make it worth a watch, unlike its video game counterpart which has neither the touch or the power.