Is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the next Team Fortress 2?

We were able to spend around an hour playing multiplayer against a room full of other journalists, and it was – to the surprise of pretty much everyone there – a complete blast. Playing on both sides through a variety of arenas, we pummeled Autobots with lock-on missiles in the Seeker’s jet form, went hand-to-hand with Megatron as Ironhide and repeatedly won, and got destroyed a few times by enemy respawns, which take the form of huge flaming meteors crashing to earth.

Game types included straight-up deathmatches and team deathmatches, a weird variation on capture-the-flag in which teams try to snag chunks of the AllSpark, control-point matches and VIP matches called One Shall Stand,in which one player is chosen to become Optimus or Megatron, and then must be defended by his or her teammates. The twist here is that Optimus and Megatron are beefed up a bit, and their deaths don’t mean an automatic lose for their team – instead, that team just runs out of respawns, making every subsequent death permanent.

The actual action is fairly standard third-person shooter stuff; holding down the left trigger (on a 360 controller) shifts you into targeting mode, during which you can easily switch between weapons (each Transformer has two or three built in, ranging from grenade launchers and lasers to flame throwers and shotguns). Releasing it lets you mix it up with your big steel fists, or climb up the sides of nearby buildings King Kong style (but with more visible damage left behind). And if you get shot up too heavily, running away and hiding from enemy fire for a few seconds is usually enough to restore you back to health.

Meanwhile, transforming mid-battle is a snap. At any time, pulling the right trigger will make your Transformer shift to vehicle form, and the degree to which you hold it in will regulate his speed. While in this form, you can ram opponents to death, fire your primary weapon straight ahead, launch yourself off ramps (if you’re a ground vehicle) and – by holding down one of the face buttons and releasing the trigger – leap back into robot form in four dramatic ways.

While multiplayer is absolutely the coolest thing about Transformers: RoTF, it’s by no means the only thing. We also had a chance to play through a little bit of the story mode, which is divided into Autobot and Decepticon campaigns. You’ll play as multiple characters across the course of each storyline, and after picking the Decepticon side, we were handed control of Long Haul - a hulking brawler/dump truck armed with twin grenade launchers and flamethrowers – and told to find movie heroine Mikaela, who apparently has some information the Decepticons need for something or other.

Above: Suitably badass

After we were dropped into an industrial park, we were almost immediately attacked by a bunch of disposable, generic Autobots, which our two computer-controlled Decepticon sidekicks did a pretty good job standing up to. Blowing up good-guy robots aside, our goal was to smoke out four engineers – done by setting their buildings on fire with Haul’s flamethrowers – and then carry them to an extraction point for questioning. Once all four had been questioned, Mikaela’s location was revealed and it was time for some old-fashioned kidnapping.

The action during single-player was noticeably more sedate and bland than in multiplayer, although to be fair, it was only the first level. And it was still fun, with lots of stuff to blow up, beat up, ram and climb. We’re not quite sure yet how we feel about the switch from an open-world approach to a linear progression through smaller open levels, but it still shows a lot of promise.

Above: Especially if we get to fight huge bosses like this one, which we’re guessing is Devastator

However the single-player turns out, we’ve gone from having zero interest in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to actually being excited for it... although at this point, it’s a skeptical kind of excited. Still, it deserves to be a blip on everyone’s radar at this point. Expect it to arrive in stores on June 23, just in time for the release of the movie.

May 28, 2009