Twenty years ago, the Transformers were one of the hottest properties around. Though the cartoon appeared to be nothing more than a 30 minute toy commercial to parents, kids ate it up, and the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons became synonymous with 80's culture. In 2003, a new series known as Transformers Armada launched, with the intention of trapping an all new generation of children (and a few adults along the way). Local Australian developer Atari Melbourne House has captured the license to produce games based on the Transformers Armada property, with their first game, Transformers (formerly Prelude to Energon), due for release in the middle of May. PALGN believes it is time to take an in-depth look into Transformers, and see if there is more than meets the eye (I'm going to hell).
Robots in Disguise
Much to the dismay of fans throughout the past two decades, Transformers has never received a videogame that does the series justice. Melbourne House is dead certain that they're going to break that trend. Transformers is a 3rd person shooter. Players can take control of one of three Autobots - Optimus Prime, Red Alert or Hot Shot, and take on the evil Megatron, the Decepticons, and his brand new army of Decipticlones - mass produced robots designed to turn the tide of the war.
Never fear, because the Autobots have a lot of power at their disposable. Aside from the usual rocket and gun power ups, the Autobots can upgrade their abilities by finding Minicons, an ancient race of miniature transformers. Unfortunately, the Minicons are sought by both the Autobots and Decipticons - their freedom is your ultimate goal.
The main single player campaign of Transformers is a linear, missions based affair. You pick one of the Autobots and play through a variety of missions that will have you destroying Decepticons and Decipticlones and occasionally having to traverse wild environments and the game's massive levels in your vehicle form. Each Autobot has his own strengths and weaknesses, with Prime being the tough but slow character, Hot Shot being the quick but weak character and Red Alert being the all rounder. Your Autobot's abilities are basic to begin with, but will develop with time as you begin to collect the Minicons. Different Minicons give you different upgrades - some of which you will need in later levels - which will mean the player will need to put a bit of effort in to ensure they find the Minicons they need. After completing the game, you can go back and collect all of the Minicons you missed, as well as a set of Datacons, which allow you to unlock bonus materials, such as Transformers videos.
I'll Tear Out Your Optics!
Melbourne House has a bit of a reputation for pushing the Playstation 2 to its limits, and Transformers reinforces the point. The game's levels are massive and filled with lush vegetations, weather effects, and all the detail required to make the environments believable. Add some massive, intricately detailed robots to the mix, and you have one really impressive looking game. Melbourne House also promises to provide sound effects true to the cartoon, and a dark, moody soundtrack.
You've Got the Touch
In its current state Transformers looks to be the game that fans have been waiting two decades to play. Melbourne House are a talented developer, and with three months left before release, they can easily clean up the few niggles remaining in Transformers, and produce a brilliant game, which will remind the world how much of a development powerhouse Australia is. Transformers is due for release on May 16th. We'll continue to keep you posted on any developments, and provide a review around the time of release.