Reviewed: August 5, 2010
Released: June 22, 2010
The Transformers video game franchise may have had its ups and downs over the years, but at this particular moment the series is experiencing both its highest and its lowest moments simultaneously with the sister releases Transformers: War for Cybertron on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 and Transformers: Cybertron Adventures on the Wii. The two titles could not be any more dissimilar – in fact, if it were not for the titles and characters there would be no reason to think that the two games were even related.|
If you have to guess which of the titles represent the high and low, let us just say that the lucky staff reviewers covering War for Cybertron are currently enjoying one of the best sleeper hits of the year – a game affectionately coined the “Arkham Asylum of 2010.” Obviously, this leaves me with Cybertron Adventures – most likely this biggest piece of licensed shovelware to hit the Wii in years. To say the game is disappointing is an understatement.
I may be a professional critic, but when it comes down to brass tacks all I really ask from a game is that it delivers some semblance of enjoyment. I admit that over the years I have let a lot of games slide on technical and/or presentation aspects in lieu of enjoyable gameplay. Sadly, Cybertron Adventures misses on all cylinders – technical issues, sloppy presentation, and shoddy gameplay all add up to one of the longest two-hour exercises in tedium to be found on the Wii.
The gameplay comes in two basic flavors – robot segments and vehicle segments.
The robot segments come in the form of an on-rail shooter similar to Time Crisis or Dead Space Extraction. But unlike those two titles, Cybertron Adventures’ shooter action simply does not cut the mustard. Maybe some of the younger gamers enjoy an hour and a half of mindless trigger mashing as they effortlessly blast wave after wave of the video game equivalent of blocky and blurry fish in a barrel – but that’s not my cup of tea. I like a little bit of difficulty in my gaming, and difficulty is one department in which Cybertron Adventures is lacking.
The vehicle segments are no more challenging, even if they do give gamers a modicum of control over the side-to-side motion of the vehicle. But where Cybertron Adventures could have gone the way of the excellent PS2 updates of the Spy Hunter series, they instead aim for a late 1980’s era OutRun aesthetic with heavily recycled environments and randomly dropped obstacles begging to be blasted…or not. Gamers do not have any control as to when the characters transform between the two modes – everything is built around linear scripted events.
I wish I could blame it all on the poor presentation quality and the terrible graphics, but it is painfully apparent that their was far too little love put into the gameplay development of Cybertron Adventures. Think of it as the perfect Catch 22; on one hand, the controller seldom seems to be reacting correctly to the motion input, on the other hand, the controller’s action seldom matters given the game’s heavy-handed auto-targeting system and on-rails control.
I know I have mentioned the poor presentation quality far too many times already, but I am not kidding when I say that this is one harsh game when it comes to the visuals. There are games on the GameCube – even the Nintendo 64 for that matter – that look better than Cybertron Adventures does. Anything in the immediate plane of view might be acceptable, but look even a few inches from the main character and things become so blocky and digitized that no amount of blurring can hide.
If there is a silver lining to this turd, it would have to be the voice acting that comes from the likes of series stalwart Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, and cameos from folks like Crispin Glover. These brief voiceovers are the one glimmer of the quality construction that should have been utilized throughout the rest of the game development.
The only multiplayer component comes from local shared-screen co-op, which only serves to further muddle the presentation with multiple on-screen reticules hopping around haphazardly. Given that the difficulty is not increased with an additional player on hand, the result is an even shorter gameplay experience.
Earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised by NERF: N-Strike Elite – a far better on-rails shooter than Cybertron Adventures is. And given that the Wii has so many other on-rails shooters like Dead Space Extraction and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, that there is no reason to waste your time and money on Transformers: Cybertron Adventures.