Revenge of the Fallen DS opens with a little scene narrated by Optimus Prime if you chose the Autobots version of the game or Starscream if you grabbed the Decepticon version. If you know your Transformers lore, this is going to be pretty standard fare: a hundred years back Megatron came to Earth looking for the Allspark, Autobots and Decepticons are now both on the hunt for it, and of course, they need your help to remedy the problem. Otherwise, you could just get your popcorn and sit back to enjoy the show!
If you choose Autobots, you will take orders from Optimus Prime and your missions will be about finding information, escorting humans when needed, and putting a general stop to Decepticon chaos. If you instead chose to get in touch with your inner bad guy by going with the game's Decepticon version, you'll report to Starscream and you will get to spend a lot of your time stealing and destroying stuff. I'm not going to lie and tell you I was attracted to the side of good on this one -- the stealing and destruction sounded like much more fun.
Each of the two games have one exclusive location. Autobots gets a mission to the Arctic to help out with a military recovery project for Megatron, while the Decepticons version allows you to get in on a major attack on Qatar. Also, both games have completely different endings. This could either present a reason to pick up both titles for major Transformers fans or elicit a fit of grumbling that you have to buy two games to see the whole story. Protip: you can get away with playing just one of these, as not much differs apart from the aspects I explained above.
After the game's intro, you'll find yourself in a sandbox enviroment that allows you to explore in the vehicle or bot form. As a vehicle no one will take any notice of you, but as a bot, obviously, people may notice that some major shit is going down. Control here is extremely straightforward - melee, a few ranged attack and a jump are all you have to work with. In some games this works in your favor, but for some reason the combat felt a but shallow to me here. I wished there was a little more to do.
As far as the missions go, you have a choice between story missions and challenge missions. Story missions will allow you to eventually take control of your favorite Transformers (Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, and Ratchetin the Autobots version and Barricade, Brawl, Blackout, Starscream, and Megatron in the Decepticons version). While you play a nameless little bot, you will be able to level up as you complete these missions, and you will be able to gain new options as far as what you can transform into. By the end of the game you may have some three dozen forms at your disposal, which helps to keep your progress interesting.
Once you've completed the story mode of the game, which takes about 6-8 hours, you can focus on challenge missions, which you can play as many times as you want. These will send you off to destroy a vehicle or get from one place to another in a set amount of time. However, I felt the missions needed a little more spice in general -- after playing through a few, I found I lost some level of interest. They weren't poor, they just weren't exciting.
There is also a multiplayer battle mode available which you can play with up to three other people, which basically works deathmatch style. It's pretty standard fare. However, there is also a score attack mode which I thought was pretty cool. You cna use your WiFi connection to download a new mission each day, and you can replay it as many times as you like to get a good score. When you are ready, log back in and your score uploads to your respective team (Autobots or Decepticons). Whichever team comes out victorious earns the Allspark that day. If you really rock out with your score, you can even earn in-game rewards that allow you to unlock unique vehicle skins. This is just a really clever way to engage interest long after the story mode is done and forgotten, and I wish more games would consider such a cool approach.
In the end, I came away feeling like Revenge of the Fallen DS was a bit of a mixed bag. I think it ought to please the kids who go see the movie, but adults may want a little something more with their portable Transformers action. On the other hand, the voice acting is solid, the score attack mode could provide some serious fun, and the multiplayer could be great on the go or with a few friends. It's all up to you if you decide it's worth your while when the two games come out on June 17th.
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