Only a few months since the previous Transformers title, Transformers Prime: The Game, takes the franchise in a new direction, basing the game on the current cartoon series reboot. When an asteroid full of Dark Energon is on a crash course with towards Earth, Megatron believes he could use this to turn the tide in his favor to defeat the Autobots once and for all. Recognizing the urgency, Optimus and the rest of the Autobots set down on Megatron’s ship – the Nemesis – attached to the asteroid and successful break the two apart, but an explosion inside the asteroid sends the Autobots crashing to Earth with the Decepticons in tow.
Taking control of five Autobots – Optimus Prime, Arcee, Bumblebee, Ratchet and Bulkhead – you must figure out what new power has been unleashed upon the Earth from the Energon, while also stopping Megatron from enslaving all of mankind. Each of the stages tend to play out similar as the simplified combat has you punching, kicking and shooting wave after wave of spawning enemies until everything has been destroyed. Move to the next area, enemies will spawn, trapping you in that area, kill all the enemies – rinse and repeat. The straightforward and simplistic combat works – remember who the the target audience is – but doesn’t provide enough variation to keep it engaging through the entire game. The entire game can be beaten in under five hours and there isn’t much to entice you to play through it multiple times besides unlockable artwork.
At the end of the stages you are pitted against a well-known Decepticon, such as Starscream, Airachnid and Knock Out. The boss fights rely heavily on basic patterns, which don’t change enough between the bosses. Using your shield to block the Decepticons combo-attack, you can follow it up with your own. After a few minutes of doing the this, the fight will end and trigger a cutscene where the Decepticon usually escapes. An on-screen prompt will tell you exactly what buttons you should be using at all times, if you happen to forget what you should be doing.
Transforming mid-fight allows you to run into and over foes while blasting them with lasers, but still doesn’t help the repetitive combat. Driving sequences on the other hand, utilize on-rail style gameplay as you use the motion controls of the GamePad to tilt your Autobot back and forth avoiding missiles, gunfire and other hazards in the environments. Not being as responsive as using analog control, the sequences feel drawn out and forced. While trying to create fun cinematic action, the sequences are a source of frustration more than anything.
Visually, Transformers Prime: The Game matches the design style from the cartoon series, but muddy low-resolution textures and the lack of detail produces flat looking models. The Wii U version pumps out an HD resolution, but the game’s assets appear to be the same as the Wii version. Where is the metallic gleam and shine that is heavily prevalent in the show? The Wii U is capable of much more than this. Transformers fans will be glad to know the voice actors from the series reprise their roles to give it an authentic feel – and yes the transforming sound is in-game, but gets drawn out by the other sound effects and music.
The local multiplayer allows you to play with a friend against AI controlled bots. The target audience may be the reason why Now Production didn’t include online multiplayer, but there are multiple game modes to choose from, each one essentially plays out as a Deathmatch. Besides fighting your friends with your favorite Autobot or Decepticon, you will often be fighting with the camera. It feels like the camera won’t move behind you unless you move it yourself or if you stand still. In the middle of fights as you are mashing attack buttons the camera won’t move around for you to get the best view of the action. Get forced into a corner of a map and you might as well just drop your controller and walk away.
Fans of the Transformers Prime cartoon will enjoy their time with the game, but the lack of content and repetitive gameplay will be a turnoff for those looking for a brawler game on the Wii U.
Note: The Transformers Prime: The Game review was written based on the Wii U version of the game provided by the publisher.