While Michael Bay may have ruined the Transformers franchise for G1 fans, the heart of Cybertron beats proudly in the HUB TV network’s animated series, Transformers Prime. The character models are more sleekly designed with an anime style, but everything from the humor and story to the metal pounding action and character voicing are wholeheartedly G1 inspired.
On the gaming front, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron gave Xbox 360 and PS3 owners a chance to dive back into the thrilling world of Autobots vs Decepticons. It followed up Transformers: War for Cybertron, once again respecting the core material from the 80s, while giving it more modern gloss. Unfortunately, in 2012, Nintendo gamers were left without an energon nugget of goodness to call their own.
Enter Transformers Prime the Game.
Although HUB’s Transformers Prime may target children, adults can enjoy the story just as well. Such is the same for Transformers Prime the Game. Activision may target a younger audience with this title, but it has a broad based appeal like Skylanders Giants.
Once you start playing the game, you’ll notice something overwhelmingly awesome. The character voices in the game are the same as they are in the cartoon. Any time Peter Cullen reprises the role of Optimus Prime, you know you’re in for a solidly good time.
Don’t expect any crazy twists or turns in the plot. This is Optimus Prime and the Autobots versus Megatron and his Decepticons – plain and simple. However, an abundance of fully voiced cut scenes keep you glued into the game. This is important because there are times where mundane locations and combat start to get redundant. Thankfully, you get to play with multiple Autobots, which adds a modicum of variety to the game.
Combat interweaves fighting in robot form with vehicle form. Try as you might to fist-pound your way through enemies, you’ll come up against a roadblock once they start using their shields regularly. In order to shatter enemy shields, players need to enter vehicle mode and drive at the enemy, before transforming at the last minute to deliver a power blow. It’s a nice way to mix up robot and vehicle combat.
Hand-to-hand combat usually involves three button combos. There’s nothing really exciting about any of these combos. During the Optimus Prime, Arcee and Bulkhead chapters, the combos feel largely the same. It isn’t until you reach Bumblebee’s chapter (the fourth mission) that you start to see some differentiation. The third hit in Bumblebee’s combo is a flash kick, like Guile from Street Fighter.
Using your lasers is the most lackluster form of combat. The Autobot laser blasters largely feel the same. It is almost a chore to lock on to enemies and use your blaster because it saps away the momentum of punch-punch-power blow fighting. However, if you’re fighting a seeker like Starscream, you’ll have to use your blasters to shoot him down.
During each chapter, you can pick up power ups to perform “Upgrades.” The word upgrade is somewhat of a misnomer. There isn’t really an Upgrade system. Instead, players are able to tap the screen on their 3DS to temporarily get a stronger melee weapon. Optimus Prime can Upgrade to his trusty energy axe to fight Megatron, while Bulkhead can break out his massive mace.
In between the standard combat, you’ll have quick vehicle boards. Players are usually racing to chase down an enemy. Sometimes, you will be able to briefly transform on these boards to execute a power jump over pitfalls. However, if you’re partnered with one of the human characters, such as Miko, she’ll warn Bulkhead not to transform while she’s inside.
Although the boards are 3D, they often feel restrictive. Typically, there are artificial barriers preventing you from going forward. Players will need to fight a few robots before the artificial energy field comes down. It would make more sense if you couldn’t progress because of some kind of field generator that was causing these holographic barriers to block your way. Then you would fight through the handful of robots protecting it to continue on.
During cut scenes, the 3D looks great and delivers a slightly more cinematic experience without feeling too excessive. However, gameplay can be a little dizzying when fighting with Airachnid, Arcee, Starscream and some of the other, more slenderly designed Transformers in 3D. The slim character models feel lost in featureless environments that match their blue-grey color.
Transformers Prime the Game is a true Cybertronian experience on Earth. Everything that’s great about the age-old Transformers vs. Decepticons war is captured in this title. While the environments and combat can both get monotonous at times, the underlying, tried-and-true story never fails to delight.