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Want more? Well, the game offers two single-player campaigns, one good – the Autobots – and one evil: the Decepticons. Within these campaigns you get to play as a lot of classic Transformers heroes and villains, albeit in their updated, Michael Bay movie forms. That means you can look forward to stepping into the shoes of Bumblebee (now a Chevy Camaro rather than a Beetle), Optimus Prime (truck), Jazz (Pontiac) and Ironhide (Pickup) on the Autobot side, and Blackout (Helicopter), Barricade (Police car), Starscream (Fighter Jet) and Megatron for the Decepticons. As a bonus, it’s possible to unlock some of these characters in their original ‘generation one’ Transformers forms.
OK, so during the first half-hour of play, things are looking good. The initial Autobot missions are set in the centre and suburbs of an unnamed West-coast city, and while the environments aren’t as lovingly detailed as the robots, there are some nice, detailed textures and the HDR lighting is excellent. You can drive, jump and climb just about wherever you want, and the game looks like its promising a free-roaming action style, reminiscent of Hulk: Ultimate Destruction or Crackdown. Main campaign missions appear one-by-one as spots on the map, while additional challenge missions can be unlocked by collecting the energy blocks strewn throughout each area. Really, what could go wrong?
Well, plenty. It turns out that the stages aren’t that free-roaming at all. The challenge missions are uninventive and shallow; the typical stuff of ‘crush this many enemy robots in this many seconds’, or ‘drive from checkpoint to checkpoint as rapidly as possible’. The streets, meanwhile, give you little to do bar destroy buildings or fend off mosquito-sized attacks from the neighbourhood military or constabulary. You could spend time collecting the energy blocks, but neither their placement nor the city architecture makes this as engaging a pursuit as the various upgrade hunts were in Crackdown. As a result, you’re left simply driving from one main mission to another in linear fashion, and the free-roaming map is little more than a glorified mission select screen.
This in itself wouldn’t be so bad if the missions themselves were any cop, but they’re woefully lacking in ideas and energy. Go from location to location beating up any enemy robot that arrives. Go from place to place destroying specific buildings or objects at each location. Follow one enemy robot and kick his metallic at several points along the trail. There are some subtle variations on these themes, but mostly this is all the game has to offer.