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May 30, 2004
Transformers - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
14/5/2004AtariMelbourne House1M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
47KBDolby PL IIYesYesSmallYes

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Yes, that's a gameplay screen.
Some of you may have wondered what happened to the full title of Transformers Armada: Prelude to Energon. Well Atari obviously felt that simplifying the name to just Transformers would open up the game to not only followers of Transformers Armada, but all fans of Transformers - which is pretty much anyone as a child since the 1980's. Melbourne House have been working on this game taking place over a very tight 13 month schedule from February 2003 to March 2004 with 90 people working on that game (including 20 people in Japan working on the CG cut scenes). Considering the quality of the end game it's a remarkable feat. One thing to note is that this game is in no way related to the extremely average Transformers Tatakai which has been developed in Japan by Winky Soft.

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It looks even better in action!
The year is 2010 and the war for supremacy between the Autobots and Decepticons continues. On Earth, a group of kids find a Transformer ship that crash landed long before the dawn of mankind. Accidentally, they activate the ship’s long-dormant cargo of Mini-cons, not knowing that the Autobots and Decepticons once schemed to keep this ship and its payload from ever being found.

Mini-cons possess a unique ability to make ordinary Transformers extremely powerful — in fact, both Autobots and Decepticons tried to use them during the Great War. When the ferocity of the war grew out of control, a truce was called and a decision was made to rid the war of these dangerous devices: All Mini-cons were placed into a ship and sent drifting into space for millions of years. Now the Mini-cons have been awakened are on Earth and the Transformers want them back!

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Nice explosions, with bits.
Essentially developers Melbourne House have created a third person action title with Transformers. After selecting from three transformers - Optimus Prime, Red Alert or Hot Shot - it's into the battlefield. As you would expect each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Optimus Prime is a good all round autobot, although he is pretty slow moving. Red Alert has strong armor, but very weak attack, while Hot Shot is very fast, but lacks the armor of the other autobots. Controlling the Autobots is a joy with the left analogue stick used to move around, the right analogue stick to move the target (there is no auto-target either), the R and L buttons do the firing while the fact buttons are used to perform lesser common functions such as transforming back and forth. It is also possible to switch to a first person recon mode which makes targeting enemies a lot easier, but slows down your movement.

Both forces are battling to ally/enslave the tiny Mini-Con robot race, which can augment the full size robots' power to phenomenal levels. During the game you will be able to determine which power-ups to use to customise your autobot to your own preferences. After the first level one of the mini-cons will travel with you allowing you both to link up and improve your attributes - but use it sparingly as it will suck away your life energy. Boss battles in Transformers deserve particular mention as they are not only fast and frantic, but will require some good skills to win.

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Use the truck to ram enemies.
Longevity in this game is really assisted with the desire to collect all the "mini-cons" (to power up your autobot) and "data-cons" (which unlock artwork, TV Ads and plenty of other extras). These are littered throughout each level, and you can be guaranteed to miss many of these on the first play through. One of the disappointments, however, is that there is a lack of multi-player. This game is screaming out for online gameplay, hell I'd settle for split-screen. Alas neither is available.

Transformers isn't a perfect game, there are some issues. The biggest is that the actual "transforming" isn't really required for the majority of the time, and isn't utilised as much as it should be. Sure there may be the odd jump to get across, but that's about the only time you'll need to transform. Also, enemy AI is adequate but hardly going to set new benchmarks as enemy autobots remain in the open too often until they get blown up. Jumping is a massive problem in this game. Jump into a sloping rock or piece of ground and your autobot will mysteriously bounce off it like he's hit a trampoline. It's seems like something is wrong with that aspect of the game engine, surely a 3 tonne robot would react differently in real life. To make matters worse some sections of levels require precise jumping to get up ledges which can stop the flow of the game quite severely.

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Flying over the Amazon.
It is not hard to say that Transformers includes some of the most impressive visuals seen running on the PS2. The very first Amazon level is intricately detailed and laid out with mountains and rivers to traverse. If you can see a location in the distance you can almost certainly reach there. Melbourne House have pushed the PS2 to new limits with some fantastic view distances and lush locations to explore.

The stunning texturing is accomplished using Melbourne House's Eco System, a volumetric renderer while the CG cut scenes are a highlight of the game. These were worked on by Japanese company Build Up who also worked on the CG in the Soul Calibur series and Panzer Dragoon. The in-game frame rate also manages to remain very steady with the game including widescreen and 60Hz support.

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One of the stunning explosions.
Sound is yet another area where the development team has spent significant amounts of time ensuring that everything fits into the game perfectly. The movement of each transformer is menacing and the sound effects such as gunshots and explosions are fairly solid. The music is one area which will probably polarize opinion. Some people will not like the upbeat tempos and riffs, however, to me, it seemed very well suited to the game. What I was really disappointed was the lack of voice work. I was expecting a lot more during the levels for some reason, but it wasn't there. All of this sound is supported by Dolby Pro Logic II which adds some depth to the game.

Transformers has been one of the most enjoyable games to review in quite a while, primarily due to the stunning visuals on offer, but also the frantic action on screen. There is no need for you to be a Transformers fan to enjoy this title giving you little reason not to check out this game.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSSome of the most gorgeous graphics ever seen on the PS2. Stunning.
SOUNDGreat sound effects and good music. Needs voices during the levels.
GAMEPLAYRun, shoot, transform to another vehicle. It's tremendous fun.
VALUEAs a single player game it's long enough, shame there is no online play.
OVERALLTransformers is such an impressive title. Even if you only have a slight feeling you'll like this game then you most likely will love it. The graphics will even have your "eye candy" XBox owners envious, it's that good! Were it not for a couple of minor gameplay niggles then this game would score higher. Still, highly recommended.

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