Optimus and the gang of transforming Autobots and Decepticons are back on home consoles to setup a story that will likely become a little clearer once the Michael Bay’s special effects laced movie hits theaters this summer. Thankfully for us, the studio behind last year’s surprisingly good Transformers: War for Cybertron took to designing another solid game in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Because let’s be honest, up until the release of War for Cybertron, the franchise has suffered on consoles with one bad title after another. Hoping to continue the success of their last outing, Activison enlisted High Moon Studios once again for this go round and it looks like it was the right choice.
Dark of the Moon isn’t laced with the greatest story in gaming history. In fact, the story itself is a little shallow and confusing. It’s likely that the developer wasn’t able to give away too much of the story. The Autobots and Decepticons both continue their ongoing struggle of good versus evil as both robotic clans attempt to gain control of something that’s never actually made too clear. Because of this, you never really get very invested in who wins the battle except that you know you need to keep whoever you’re controlling at the time alive.
The campaign consists of seven different levels with each one putting you in control of different transformers. The levels, as well as the transformers themselves lend a sense of variety that keeps things fresh. Considering the length of the single-player campaign feels so short, there’s no chance of getting bored thanks to changing things up in each level with different weapons and abilities. The most fun level comes when you play as Mirage who has the ability to become cloaked and do a little stealth maneuvering. Beyond this however, the gameplay boils down to running and gunning down generic enemy robots and transforming to get from point A to point B faster. The controls are simple enough and laid out in introductory tutorials to make them accessible even to younger gamers.
Nothing in Dark of the Moon is ever overly complicated, but the level design does leave a little to be desired. Sometimes you’ll find yourself wondering where you’re supposed to go next. Other times you’ll just feel hampered by the tight spaces you’re trying to maneuver through. This becomes most evident at times when you’ve got your transformer in the tricked out and beefed up stealth form. It’s nothing that will ruin the overall experience for anyone, but does add a little unneeded frustration during play. If you’re like me however, you’ll wish the levels were a little more open so you could take out enemies in the most fun way, which in Dark of the Moon means plowing them in regular vehicle form at full speed and sending them flying in the air and crashing to their doom. The vehicle controls are also some of the trickiest because of the strange omndirectional ability vehicles have. It’s nice to be able to slide, drift and move in any direction, but it also makes the vehicle form of your transformer feel extremely slippery and results in more than a few bumps and crashes.