The world has been turned on its ear. Up is now down, capitalism is now communism and we’ve played the videogame adaptation of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and it’s…. good.
How can this be!?
Above: For once, this could actually turn out as cool as it looks
The apparent improvement over the crummy first game is thanks to developer Luxoflux (Vigilante 8, Kung Fu Panda), who’s taken the reins from Traveller’s Tales and promises to address complaints fans and critics had with the first game. No more will Transformers be about giant robots bashing each other over the head with trees, Luxoflux says. Instead, it’s all big, powerful guns, quick on-the-fly transformations and punching.
The apparent crown jewel of the game, however, is its multiplayer mode. Featuring four-on-four battles between two teams of Transformers (divided between Autobots and Decepticons, duh), it’ll give players a chance to rip it up in open, vehicle-centric urban environments. And while it doesn’t have the massive scale of something like Battlefield: 1943 or the claustrophobic, team-dependent play of Left 4 Dead, its small-scale, class-centric battles remind us of nothing so much as a four-on-four version of Team Fortress 2.
Above: Just, you know, with giant robots that turn into cool vehicles
Transformers: RotF’s multiplayer offers up a pool of 13 initially playable Transformers, each differing radically in size, weapon loadout and abilities. Megatron, for example, is huge and has a one-hit-kill fusion cannon that takes a while to charge up, while the Seeker can transform into a jet and teleport a few dozen yards forward. Optimus excels at close-quarters combat, Ironhide can lay down remote turrets and Ratchet and Long Haul can both heal other players, despite having completely different combat skills. Bumblebee, tiny as he is, packs a surprising amount of firepower and is tough to hit, and Breakaway is a sniper who turns into a jet, and also excels at hand-to-hand combat.
In general the characters seem balanced, but there’s no direct symmetry between the two sides – every Transformer is different. Bearing that in mind, it’s important to pick a balanced team right from the outset, because while you can switch characters during a match, you can only switch to characters your teammates have already chosen. So if everyone insists on being Megatron or Optimus right from the start, well, you’re stuck with that for the next five to 10 minutes.
As for the Transformers themselves, on the Autobot side, you’ve got Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide (who turns into a pickup truck), Ratchet (a weird SUV-style ambulance), Breakaway (jet fighter), a Protectobot (police cruiser) and an Aerialbot (smaller jet fighter). Meanwhile, the Decepticons get Megatron, Starscream, Grindor (helicopter), Long Haul (dump truck), Sideways (car) and a Seeker (jet fighter).
A few of those - Seeker, Protectobot and Aerialbot - are anonymous, multiplayer-only members of “classic Transformers factions,” and they’re joined by a few more characters we can’t really talk about yet. Some of those are just reskins of other characters, while others are genuinely beefed-up versions, and we’re told they’ll be joined by more Transformers (who’ll appear as downloadable extras) down the road.