Let's not beat about the bush: Revenge of the Fallen is a typically rushed licensed game intended to coincide with an awful movie that shamelessly rapes your fondest childhood memories. It does the very bare minimum to be considered competent and very little else. It's been crafted solely to sucker money out of impressionable kids, and it's going to make millions of dollars.
It's a licensed movie game and it doesn't try to be anything more. I could, and should, just leave it at that, but we've got to at least pretend we're writing a review that someone gives a crap about, so let's soldier on and fool ourselves into thinking this piece of writing is even vaguely relevant, shall we? Read on as we review, for some reason, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PS2, PC, Wii)
Released: July 30, 2009
MSRP: $59.99  $49.99 [Wii]
The first thing that's wrong with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is that it's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. That means it's based on Michael Bay's latest travesty where Starscream sounds like Orson Welles for no good reason and Megatron is a slave to some mysterious and half-baked new robot that nobody in their right mind should care about. Also, there is no Megan Fox outside of one brief photograph of her face in this game -- this automatically removes the one and only reason to give a shit about this game.
Whatever plot there's supposed to be, it's barely existent. Between stages, the robots talk at each other about garbage that barely makes any sense, and what few cutscenes exist are rubbish and lazy. There are two campaigns for either the Autobots or the Decepticons. I got as far as the Devastator boss battle before declaring I'd had enough of the Autobots, but I did finish the entire Decepticon campaign and it took barely more than an hour or two. There's value for money right there.
The game is presented as a series of various timed missions that involve killing robots, picking people up, killing more robots, blowing up buildings, and killing even more robots. They are short, not very varied, and seem to have been pulled from "My First Book of Videogame Designs." Medals are awarded depending on how quickly each mission is completed, and various "Skill Shots" are hidden around each stage, temporarily freezing the time counter in order to help you achieve the platinum awards.
There are five Decepticons and Autobots to choose from, each with their own transformations , weapons and special skills. Transforming is a simple case of holding a shoulder button and keeping it held down. Vehicles are easy enough to drive around, but become an utter nightmare for combat. Trying to control any of the flying Transformers and accurately shoot stuff is near impossible, since holding down the transformation button also accelerates the vehicles. Even choosing to hover with planes and helicopters keeps them moving.
Adding to the frustration of combat is the fact that weapons need to cool down after being fired for a short amount of time. Although each Transformer has a sub-weapon that can be switched to, the sub-weapons are usually crap and/or impossible to hit anything with. These problems aren't helped by the fact that enemies constantly transform, jump off and onto buildings, and generally run around making fools of themselves.
These issues aside, I can at least say that the game is playable. It's not an abominable trainwreck, it's just as mediocre as mediocre can get. Without the transformation gimmick, RotF is a bargain basement shooter that's as loose and clunky as an early PlayStation 2 game, with outdated mechanics and unrefined controls. The transformation gimmick barely adds anything to the flavor of the game, since it's inconvenient to try and fight as a vehicle, so players are reduced to sticking with their robot forms.
There is online multiplayer, but the robots are so unbalanced that it's not very much fun at all. Some robots are clearly better than others, and if you go up against the wrong one, you're screwed. Balance issues aside, the various multiplayer modes are nothing new, and it seems difficult to get into a full game, leading to many online battles feeling like cold, quiet, dreary affairs. Quite clearly, a few maps were cobbled together, the robots were chuck into them, and the developers felt that was enough. For mainstream fans of the movie, it will be, but those of us with intelligence and taste will feel insulted that this kind of multiplayer is being presented to us in a world full of brilliant online games.
It doesn't even look all that impressive, either. Environments are pretty bland, and while the Transformers themselves look good, their animations are unimpressive and they frequently struggle when trying to jump over or scale buildings. At the very least, Frank Welker puts his voice to use as Megatron and Soundwave, which is always a pleasure. Whoever provided that awful voice for Starscream, however, can choke on a bucket of dildos.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is as tepid as gaming gets, put forth with the bare minimum of effort in a quick and cynical attempt to grab some free cash. It's not good in the slightest, and it's not even remarkable enough to be considered bad. It's just there, doing the one thing it's supposed to do -- make a load of money for two weeks, then disappear into obscurity where it firmly belongs.
Score: 4.5 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)
reviewed by Jim Sterling