Reviewed: June 25, 2009
Released: June 23, 2009
It’s official. Summer, 2009 is here. How do I know? The new Transformers movie is officially in theaters and the new Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen video game is currently dominating a majority of my gaming time, and guest what? The Wii version might just be the best version of all the systems it is shipping for this week.
Krome Studios took over the development for the Wii (and PS2) versions of the new Transformers title, and they must have learned from the mistakes made in 2007 when TT Games tried to replicate the next-gen versions on the Wii and failed miserably. For the sequel, Wii gamers get a totally new platform experience built from the ground up to make the most of the Wii control system and they way Wii gamers play their games.
The Wii version of Revenge of the Fallen tackles the franchise with an action-fighter-platform style of gaming rather than the large open-world we find in the next-gen versions. The path through the 15 colorful and complex levels is linear, the camera is automatic, and the gameplay is intense. Gone is the pressure to rush through a level to earn a medal or having to fight the problematic controls on the next-gen versions. I just found the entire Wii experience far more satisfying than the 360 and PS3 versions.
The game story loosely follows the plot of the film starting with Optimus Prime skydiving into Shanghai; an event that only lasts about five seconds in the film but has been drawn out into an entire freefall event on the Wii. It is within these few short minutes that you will learn the basics of the controls as far as moving around and aiming your targeting reticle with the Wii remote to fire at enemies. Once you reach the ground the game will continue to walk you through the controls as new situations arise and new moves and attacks become available.
Designed as a 3D platform game you won’t have to worry about controlling the camera. It will track you just fine and give you a great view of any situation. The analog stick on the Nunchuk will control the movement of your robot while you aim and shoot with the remote. Various button combos combined with swiping and thrusts of the remote will activate melee punches and special attacks. This is some of the best gesture-based combat I’ve played on the Wii.
In addition to the classic platform style levels that do include a bit of rooftop jumping, you also get some on-rails action sequences, usually for the vehicle forms such as Sideways and Starscream. These levels are really exciting allowing you to switch back and forth between vehicle and robot forms at will and engage in combat with the enemy. The Starscream level was probably my favorite as it combined some super-fast obstacle navigation combined with exciting combat for both air and sea targets. When somebody got on my six I just turned into robot form, hovered, spun around 180, and opened up with lock-on missiles, then turned back into my jet form and continued the mission.
Rather than splitting the game into two campaigns the Wii version will have you bouncing back and forth between Autobots and Decepticons within the linear progression of the missions. This compacts the entire game experience giving you the best of both factions without having to replay the same missions from a slightly altered perspective.
There is a nice dynamic of being able to collect Energon to fuel your super-attacks or even convert that energy to health when necessary. If you do fall in combat, miss a rooftop jump, or die in any other way you will enjoy the frequent checkpoint system that will have you back in the game without having to retrace too much of your previously explored path. The game is very kid-friendly while remaining challenging for older and more experienced gamers.
I am a huge fan of the artistic style chosen for the game. Rather than going for ultra-realism the designers have incorporated the art design and inking style of the animated series and given it a slight CG boost. The robots look terrific and the backgrounds are colorful, complex, and smash apart nicely. I enjoyed the automatic camera that worked surprisingly well for 99% of the game as well as a fluid framerate and flash special effects.
The audio package is a mix of excellent music, typical sound effects, and below-average dialogue. Much like the next-gen versions, the robots sound and perform better than their human cast members, but there just isn’t that much dialogue in the game.
Most gamers will find a solid 6-8 hours of gameplay. There is a tacked-on co-op feature whereby a second player can act as a shield or a special weapon and assist the main player. There is also a Co-op Arena Mode, a much better multiplayer option that allows two players to team up and fight their favorite robots in increasingly difficult waves of enemies. Revenge of the Fallen is a collector’s dream with some glowing pick-up on just about every screen that will unlock some sort of bonus item. You can even unlock and watch three full episodes from the original Transformers animated series.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a slick, fast, fun, and challenging gameplay experience that offers exciting combat action, platform level navigation, and some invigorating on-rails sequences that make this particular system version feel more “Transformers” than any of the others.
Wii gamers will certainly enjoy a game that was built just for them, and Transformers fans will love the attention to detail their franchise has been given. Even better, this game is so different from its next-gen counterparts that I can even recommend this as a double-dip purchase (or at least a rental) for those who want to experience Transformers with classic visuals and traditional action-platform gameplay.