Transformers PSP Review

Everyone’s favorite shape changing robots have experienced a recent revival, on the toy, television, and big screen front. Michael Bay recently took charge of the Transformers license to generate a box office blast, and as a result we have been given the opportunity to play another Transformers video game. But does this title live up to the media hype surrounding the movie? Read on to find out!

Transformers for the PSP offers players the chance to take control of both Autobots and Decepticons in various missions based around the plot of the movie. As players progress through the story mode, they are given the opportunity to play as each of the formidable robots from the movie, while tackling missions that span the gamut from protecting objectives and escorting others to destroying objectives on a massive scale. Each stage begins with outfitting your Transformer as you see fit, customizing the weapon scheme to meet the needs of the current mission.

There are two basic sets of controls in Transformers: robot mode controls, and vehicle mode controls. While in Robot mode, the game plays out in a similar fashion, control-wise, to Star Wars Battlefront II. Aiming is somewhat difficult in that vertical sighting is accomplished with triangle and X, which some players may find difficult to get used to. Firing on enemies is made somewhat easier with the lock on feature (R button), but precise movements are still often required to use this function. Robot mode allows for the use of 4 different equipped weapons (cycling is accomplished with left on the d-pad, square is fire), and also allows players to engage in melee with targets that are close enough (an onscreen fist icon indicates this). Players may also choose to use objects in the world as weapons. Items ranging from lightpoles and trees to cars and rocks can be hefted by your ‘bot, to be swung as weapons or hurled at the competition. Players can also jump while in robot mode (L button), and if combined with the R button, this will result in a transformation into vehicle mode.

Vehicle mode offers a different experience all together. Players can still use a selection of weapons (with the use of the R button), and get an accelerate and brake function to boot. Vehicle mode is somewhat hampered when it comes to combat, but it shines in other ways. First, using vehicle mode is a much easier way to travel. All of the robot forms move fairly slowly, especially in comparison to their vehicle modes. Quickly changing into vehicle mode gives players the chance to dramatically change position on the battlefield, which can give them an edge. Another advantage to vehicle mode involves the use of the robot Super Move. While in robot form, ‘bots can perform a Super Move if they have a full super move gauge. While powerful, the gauge must be full to activate this ability. Now, here’s the catch; the Super Move gauge only refills while in vehicle mode. This does a good job as far as game balance is concerned, although some players may be irritated that they must pop into vehicle mode to charge this ability.

Depending on the type of vehicle your ‘bot transforms into, you may end up with a few additional controls. Helicopters, for instance, have the ability to modify height. Little modifications like these do an adequate job of differentiating the one vehicle mode from another. In addition to this, each vehicle seems to have its own statistics for armor and speed, which adds further variety.

Basic gameplay takes the form of the often-used story mode. Players complete given missions and objectives in a set pattern, changing sides between the Autobot and Decepticon forces as they play through the game. While this does fall in line with the way the movie progresses, players may want to play one side or the other, but are not truly given a choice to do so. Players can replay past missions using the relive mission option, allowing for a certain amount of replayability. As players complete each mission, they are rated on a number of performance based categories. Depending on a player’s performance, they are awarded a numerical score, which goes towards unlocking extras, primarily new weapons. These can be equipped before each mission, and provide scalability of firepower during a campaign that becomes increasingly difficult.

As far as graphics are concerned, the PSP does a relatively good job of displaying the bots on the quests. Nothing stellar, no breakthroughs in graphical output, but this title is fairly run of the mill here. Transformations are handled reasonably well, although sharp eyes will likely not be happy.

Run of the mill may in fact end up being the best way to describe the Transformers for the PSP. True Transformers fans will want to gives this one a go, especially since it has more playable characters than any other version of the game. Gameplay is often repetitive, and the controls are not necessarily that easy to pick up and play, despite having 3 different control schemes. The missions are generally forgettable, and have a tendency to run together as there is no real difference in gameplay most of the time. Robot form feels sluggish, and vehicle form does not offer much in the way of entertainment. All in all, this title ends up being fairly hum-drum. As mentioned, fans of the Transformers should definitely give this one a try, but renting may still be your best bet. Those who are not heavily inducted into the Transformers mythos should probably ignore this title all together. You won’t even know you missed it, to be honest.



The Final Word

I wanted this game to be great but bottom line is, you should not spend $40 buying this title new. Though the premise is a good one, the execution could have been much better. This title falls victim to IP syndrome, where too much is spent on the intellectual property license, leaving inadequate funds for proper development. And unfortunately the content of the IP is not going to be enough to make up for its short comings.