Transformers” is a reminder that, as far as movie-based videogames have come, they are still too often a den of mediocrity. Everything about this game screams “cheap cash in,” with Activision apparently eager to just pump out something that can pry open the wallets of the millions of eager fanboys.

Transformers” is a reminder that, as far as movie-based videogames have come, they are still too often a den of mediocrity. Everything about this game screams “cheap cash in,” with Activision apparently eager to just pump out something that can pry open the wallets of the millions of eager fanboys.

The story basically follows the film beat for beat. In “Transformers,” players watch animated cut scenes that mirror the film and then play missions in between — some taken directly from the film and others invented to give gamers something to do.

While it’s hardly a sign of creativity, that can be forgiven if the missions are interesting and challenging, but “Transformers’ ” are neither. The challenges typically involve driving or flying around a small geographic area attempting to collect items and beat up opponents.

While the goals are incredibly simple, most missions still manage to be confusing and difficult. Due to poor design and a lack of clear instructions, players will sometimes find themselves dying on early levels before they even know what happened. If they don’t throw down their controller out of boredom, they’ll do it out of frustration.

Players may be excited at the beginning to find out they can control the heroic Autobots or evil Decepticons, depending on their mood. And as the game progresses, they will get the chance to handle most of the Transformers, from Optimus Prime to Megatron to Bumblebee and Starscream. But since the gameplay is tedious no matter who the gamer is controlling, it hardly matters.

To its credit, “Transformers” has decent graphics and transforming from robot to vehicle and back, which is done with the touch of a button, looks almost as cool as it does on the bigscreen. Developer Traveler’s Tales also effectively conveys how huge most of the Transformers are when in robot form. Optimus Prime is not light on his feet, nor should he be.

Sound design is apparently based on the theory that louder is better: When players are controlling a Decepticon and laying waste to everything they see, that’s fine. But when there is a specific goal to concentrate on, the cacophony of pointless explosions is distracting and headache-inducing. The repetitive, booming sci-fi score doesn’t help.

Most of the voice actors from the movie are on hand to authentically spout inane lines like “You’ll not cause any more destruction, Decepticon.”

Transformers: The Game

Rated T. $39.99 to $59.99.

Production

An Activision presentation of a game developed by Traveler’s Tales and licensed by Hasbro and DreamWorks/Paramount for the PC, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. Reviewed on the Xbox 360.
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