Undoubtedly, the concept of a Transformers game seems like a surefire proposition. With two factions of pugnacious robots capable of reconfiguring into cars, jets, tanks and guns, the ceaseless struggle between Autobots and Decepticons is an ideal impetus for a flood of indulging video games. While Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners have been given a steady stream of titles which make good use of the source material, the Wii has been furnished with a selection of substandard adaptations.
From the lackluster on-rails shooting of Transformers: Cybertron Adventures to Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition’s perplexing absence of any robotic shape-shifting, Nintendophiles have a reason to feel rebuffed. Franchise offerings have often been felt like hastily developed, disposable cash-ins, instead of titles fated for long-term appeal. While recent release Transformers: Prime – The Game isn’t revolutionary, it is an enjoyable, straightforward romp poised to placate a younger audience.
Prime’s plotline opens as Megatron’s orders the towing of a meteoroid brimming with Dark Energon toward Earth. A handful of brief lessons explain the fundamentals of navigation, transformation, and combat while revealing the Autobot’s attempt to sever the villainous vessel’s tow cable. Unexpectedly, the meteor explodes and scatters across the globe. In execution, this event has two benefits: allowing the game to have a variety of environmental while relegating Transformers: Prime’s adolescents to mercifully brief cutscenes.
Pleasingly, the disk’s four-to-five hour campaign cycles through Team Prime’s roster, relinquishing control of Optimus, Arcee, Bulkhead, Bumblebee and Ratchet to players. Unlike previous Transformer titles, each protagonist isn’t given their own distinctive loadout. Instead, the arsenal of Autobots control similarly, articulating individuality through variables such as movement speed and offensive strength.
At the heart of each robot’s capability are ranged and melee attacks. Using a ‘Z’ button on the Nunchuck permits players to lock onto to enemies, peppering the Decepticons with fire or pounding them into scrap. Successions of waggle-triggers combos are the best method of submission, tasking players with making a hammering motion with their Wiimotes. Although Prime lacks Classic Controller support, the title’s gestures and recognized consistently bring a bit of physicality to the linear series of skirmishes.
Through most of Transformers: Prime storyline gamers are able to change into their alternate form, bestowing additional powers. Vehicles are inherently faster than bipedal ‘bots, enabling leaps across greater distances. Careening toward an enemy on wheels before instigating a melee combo initiates a shield-destroying assault, which are needed to dispatch well-defended Decepticons. Some sections are devoted to vehicular control, challenging players to blast through obstacles and jump over gaps. Save for the jittery Nunchuck steering, these sections play like a 3D version of Moon Patrol, throwing simultaneous impediments at gamers.
While combat is generally engaging- particularly the title’s boss confrontations, a handful of blemishes soil battles. Apparently, the Decepticons gleaned the secrets of mass productions from Transformer manufacturer Hasbro. Fights are often against sets of the same foes with only a handful of enemy types used throughout Prime’s campaign. Although gamers can move the game’s camera with the Wiimote’s directional pad, clashes in corners can produce a shifting, disorienting perspective.
Considering the capabilities of the aging Wii, Transformers: Prime – The Game is capably visualized, extending admirable recreations of the television series’ mechanized stars. While environments can look a bit bland at times, it’s a fair trade off for the game’s fluid framerate. Even more impressive is the game’s sonic output, where the indispensible team of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker’s bring life to Optimus and Megatron, while personalities such as Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) provide commendable voicework for the rest of the cast.
Beyond the title’s single-player expedition, Prime also offers a trio of competitive diversions for either two players or a lone contender pitted against AI bots. Although Brawl, Battle for Energon, and Emblem Battle represent the time-tested diversions of Last Man Standing, Deathmatch, and King of the Hill contests each is appealing in short doses. Regretfully, the game lacks any type of online functionality which could have bolstered enjoyment.
For fans of the CG series, Transformers: Prime – The Game is undeniably competent, offering a spirited excursion which matches the action and appearance of its source material. Save for a fleeting campaign and the lack of online functionality, the game is a redemptive send-off for an IP that has largely supplied mediocrity on Nintendo’s platform.