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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – first look

Enthusiasm counts for a lot when you’re given your first taste of a new game – especially when it’s the sequel of a movie tie-in game that you don’t have the greatest of expectations for. But developers Luxoflux couldn’t be more pumped up about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and their excitement is infectious. They know that the last tie-in Transformers title (made by Lego game veterans Traveller’s Tales), didn’t hit the spot on several fronts and they've taken a lot of feedback on board. They also know that people want to see giant freakin’ robots smashing up stuff, and that is what they have set out to deliver.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has been created from the ground up to be a game with a much larger scale than before, with far greater emphasis on player choice. Thanks to a non-linear, hub-based mission system you can pick and choose virtually any robot for any mission, as well as what side you want to fight for.

Once into a mission, it becomes clear that Luxoflux’s past experience with city sandbox games (such as True Crime: Streets of LA and New York City) has been put to good use. Each one of the Autobot and Decepticon Transformers has a unique primary and secondary weapon (including the ability to set up turrets, plant mines or disable enemies with an EMP pulse), as well as their power to transform into vehicles and aircraft. Not only does this mean each level can be replayed using different techniques (Bumblebee can climb buildings while Starscream can fly, for example), it sets up what is, for us, the most exciting thing about Transformers: RotF – the multiplayer modes…

One of the biggest criticisms of the first movie-based Transformer games was the lack of any sort of online gameplay. Luxoflux have gone to great lengths to ensure that this won’t be a problem here – even turning to the kings of online – the Call of Duty team (who also work with Activision) – for advice. Featuring Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, Transformers 2 has a huge amount of online potential and will cater to at least eight players. In the multiplayer modes, each of the robots has their own specific class and picking the right combination of ’bots for a team will be vital. While a flying character is more maneuverable, a robot that can place anti-aircraft sentry guns will soon sort them out. Optimus Prime might pack some seriously heavy weaponry (dual shotguns and a special charge cannon), but a sniper like Sideways might take him out before he can even get close.

If your gameplay habits are a little more selfish, you’ll also have the opportunity to post your achievements up on the various score and time-trial leaderboards too to prove your skills to the world. Although we didn’t get the opportunity to play Transformers 2 hands-on, the demonstration we had also highlighted improvements with the combat system. Additionally to their primary and secondary firepower, each robot has a melee attack and a number of special moves that can be initiated mid transformation to ensure you’re never left vulnerable. The addition of an Overdrive meter (that fills when you take out enemies more stylishly and allows you to use your weapons without them overheating) ensures that the pace of the action is maintained too.

Could Revenge of the Fallen be the Transformers game that we’ve been waiting for? It certainly looks at this stage like it has been created to hold our attention for longer than the length of the film.

May 6, 2009