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Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

Savvy gamers know that licensed games should be approached with prudence- as the bulk of film, television, and comic adaptations turn out to be unrepentant clunkers. Within the past year, we’ve seen a mass of misfires- from Battle: Los Angeles, Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos, and Thor: God of Thunder, each tempting players with reenacting the thrills of a popular property. Aptly, Activision’s last two installments in the Transformer series have sidestepped this tenet, delivering a serviceable recreation of the popular toy and film franchise. While movie tie-in Transformers: Dark of the Moon permits participants to wreck havoc with the famous squads of shape-shifting robots once more,  the game is the odd sequel which fails to top its predecessor.

Most of the title’s failings aren’t found in its updated play mechanics, where players now have fully regenerative health systems and no longer have to scour environments for ammunition. Now, members in the rival Autobot and Decepticon factions are each outfitted with an endless supply of offensive ballistics, which is consistent with traditional Transformer lore. The lone game component where some will find fault is in the incorporation of Stealth Force, a midstate between giant robot and vehicle. While in this form, each machine is noticeably sturdier and much more mobile, reducing bipedal Transformers to little more than glorified gate openers, unless players are shooting for sky-high scores (The game fails to mention that robust combos are acquired through melee kills).

Of course, many of the habitually linear levels don’t seem designed for Stealth Force’s wide turning radius, forcing players to alternate between drift-ready transport and the new robot/vehicle hybrid. Although the game seems to aspire to be a cover-based shooter, the limited amount of protective obstacles and instances of high ground seem to belie these aspirations. Yet, when Dark of the Moon provides the periodic corner to poke around and launch a salvo of projectiles at enemies, the game feels provisionally satisfying. It’s unfortunate that most levels are dominated by successions of zones where the game pitches a procession of foes at players.

The game’s campaign flows through the Transformer roster, giving players access to Bumblebee, arrogant Ironhide, and stealthy Mirage before allowing control of the Decepticon’s malicious members. Skillfully, developer High Moon Studio articulates each robots personality through its unique loadouts and intermittently amusing dialog. The one quandary here lay with Optimus Prime, who seems uncharacteristically antagonistic and is unplayable for all but a brief section. Considering he’s the cover star, I expected more playtime with the Autobot leader.

Outside of Dark of the Moon‘s single-player excursion (sadly, co-op has been excised)  the title offers a multiplayer mode, which regretfully has  received only middling changes since its appearance in War for Cyberton. Beyond five new maps, and new monikers for each of the four classes, players are locked into the deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a conquest mode variants. The game’s experience system remains, allowing combatants to customize their arsenals and abilities, hitting the level cap occurs far too swiftly. Still, for players who haven’t delved into the online competitions found on previous Transformers disks, Dark of the Moon‘s riotous rivalries stand out from the archetypical multiplayer tussle.

Visually, Dark of the Moon‘s Terra Firma based environments are both varied and well articulated, shuffling players through city interiors, industrial mills, and woodsy outposts. Transformers are drawn with a pleasing amount of detail, and when changing forms, are faithful to Michael Bay’s interpretation. Although the title doesn’t attempt to assemble all of the voice talent from the film (with Fred Tatasciore managing to make Megatron, Bumblebee, Ratchet, and Sideswipe all sound distinct), Jess Harnell’s delight when vocalizing Ironhide’s careless collateral damage is delightfully infectious.

As licensed games go, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an agreeable adaptation, giving gamers the chance to helm the heavy hardware of the upcoming film. Yet, the title is also the atypical sequel which doesn’t improve on its precursor- ditching some of the elements which elevated War for Cybertron. As such it’s a tricky title to recommend as a full-price purchase; all but the most fervent Transformer fans should wait for the inevitable sale.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Reviewers loved War for Cybertron, but I thought it was a bore.

    • I really liked it. One of the my favorite games of last year. Different strokes, I guess.

  2. Cool, I just bought Cybertron at Target on clearence on Target. I guess that’s the one to own.

  3. Dude, those robot designs look freaking cool.

  4. About the same score as Gies from IGN. Does this mean Deagle is getting grumpy, too?

    • Between Wipeout and this, I am seeing a trend here. Of course, one NIS JRPG and all will be back to normal.

    • I think his reviews have been on the money. The scores here aren’t different from other sites.

  5. Funny thing is, I’ll be playing the game (eventually) but probably won’t see the movie.

  6. Less than meets the eye?

  7. First no Megan Fox, now this? How much can a Transformers fan take?

  8. I think are forgetting this was probably rushed to make the release of the movie.

  9. Laving to see the movie right now.

  10. Score seems about right to me.

  11. I can rent this and get my Transformers fix. No need to drop $60.

  12. Everytime I see that title, I can’t help but think of Pink Floyd. I hope you’re happy Michael Bay.

    I was a big fan of Cybertron and will probably get this. Sad to see co-op go, but it still sounds fun. Oh, and Peter Cullen’s voice make it all worthwhile.

  13. I didn’t expect this game to even get a C+

  14. Is it me or was there less hype with this game then the one that came out two years ago?

  15. I can’t believe they made a Deadliest Catch game. I couldn’t believe it so I had to Google it. Sure enough, it was one of the worst rated 360 games of all time.

  16. Spongebob Nopants

    Some site are saying this is 4 hours long and others are saying 10. Which is it?

    • I finished it in 6. Review is pretty much on the money, maybe a little harsh.

    • It’s about 5 hours long. Perfect rent, beat and achieve game. BTW you have to use the robot form to get all the cheevios. So they do more than just open doors 😛

  17. Notice the last two scores were for Activision games? I think I see a trend coming…

  18. Twin Alien Penises

    How could someone do love a game (even a short one) about giant robots that change into cars, and quick each others asses. Not me.

  19. They didn’t bring in Frank Welker to voice Megatron in this one? There goes another chunk of my enthusiasm for this one.

    • A large chunk or small? I really don’t see how voice actors are that important…

      • It’s more of a “I wasn’t that interested to begin with, now I care even less”-sized chunk. LOL!

        Frank Welker *IS* Megatron in the same way that Peter Cullen *IS* Optimus Prime. If Cullen can return as Prime, there’s no reason Welker shouldn’t as Megs, especially when he’s been in the other TF movie games. If you had watched Transformers: G1 when you were growing up, you would have wanted him back, too. The guy’s amazing as a Megs.;)

  20. I know he’s voicing Soundwave in the movie.

  21. What up with IMBD

    Here it says Frank Welker’s Megatron in the game: (8 from the top)

    But go to the Dark of the Moon Page

    and it says Fred Tatasciore did the voice.

    • It appears that Welker’s page is incorrect. I just watched a gameplay clip featuring Megatron and it doesn’t sound like the voice Frank used in the other two games. It must be Fred Tatasciore doing the voice.

  22. I rented it last night. Not half bad, just average.

  23. I agree with Optimus Prime acting not like he usually does. I blame Michael Bay.