Developed by:High Moon Studios Published by:Activision Genre(s):
  • Action
  • Third Person Shooter
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1 (2-10 Online) Release date:June 14, 2011 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    Transformers: Dark of the Moon

    I am a huge Transformers fan. I’ve followed Hasbro’s franchise from the classic Generation One (G1) cartoon series, to the latest Michael Bay adaptation and everything in between. Whenever the chance arises for me to talk about, play, or watch anything that has to do with the franchise, I’m all over it! So, when I heard about Transformers: Dark of the Moon being developed by High Moon Studios, the team that made the excellent Transformers: War for Cybertron, I was more than just a little excited!

    Movie-licensed video games are almost always terrible. Whether it’s due to the movie company demanding the game be release in time with the film or the developer being granted limited creative freedom, most of these games aren’t worth a rental let alone a full purchase. It’s even worse when it comes to the Transformer franchise. Tied to a movie or not, it seems as though no one has been able to make a good game that featured the giant robots. That was the case, until High Moon dropped War for Cybertron on us. They proved that they were capable of not only making a good Transformer game, but one that could stand up to other action titles.  With that being said, High Moon has done an amazing job of not only making a decent movie-licensed game but also one based on the Transformer franchise.

    Dark of the Moon is a prequel to the latest Michael Bay film, with the events leading up to the movie. Like the previous Transformer titles, you’ll play as different Autobots and Decepticons per mission. The story is presented in snippets of audio and cutscenes that are sprinkled through the campaign. It seems that the Decepticons are trying to rescue an assassin named Shockwave. Now before you get your hopes up, as expected this isn’t the same Shockwave from the G1 series. He has been Michael Bayed and is completely different from the awesome purple robot from the TV show. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll help and hinder his rescue. While I played through the story, there were a few things that really stood out to me. The first was the fact that Dark of the Moon plays better than the other games based on the Bay films. The levels are action packed and well designed, there aren’t any crazy puzzles involved in boss fights, and each character plays different from one another. Jumping to level design, High Moon did a good job of creating environments where gamers can utilize both robot and vehicle forms. Just like in War for Cybertron, you can tell where the developer “suggests” better results in vehicle form and vice versa. There are even levels were you’re mainly in one form or another; like when using Starscream against the Arial Bots. Going back to the action, all of the weapons have a sense of weight to them this time around. You feel like you’re a force to be reckoned with. After all, you’re controlling robots with a strong enough arsenal to level a city. You should feel powerful.

    And then there are the Transformers themselves. Each one has their own personal way of fighting. Mirage uses a sniper rifle and can cloak himself, while Ironhide has a special ability where he uses a gatling gun to mow down opponents. No matter who I played as, I never felt like the game gave me a dud. While I liked firing rockets with Bumble Bee, blasting a bot to pieces with Ironhide’s shotgun-like cannon was very satisfying, to say the least. High Moon also improved how the bots are controlled via the new Stealth Force mode. This is a hybrid state between robot and vehicle modes that allowed for better maneuverability. That way you didn’t have to worry about driving into things while trying to flank an opponent (think of the hover-vehicle forms in War for Cybertron). All of these things helped to make traversing the globe in the campaign much more fun than previous entries.

    Another game aspect that stood out to me was, unfortunately, the campaigns length. It’s just too short and being a prequel to a film is no excuse. If anything, it could have been really long due to the fact that we don’t know how much time has passed between Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon. Truth be told, I was able to go through the entire game on normal within one sitting (no more than five hours). Just when things started to get really interesting it just ends. Talk about a major let down.

    This lack of content carries over to other aspects of the game. Take the multiplayer options for example. We are presented with the normal staples; Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. There is also Conquest, were two teams fight to control Energon nodes scattered across a map. The more nodes your team has the more points you get. You can play as different Transformers (each representing a different class of character) and unlock perks or special abilities by leveling them up. There’s really nothing new here. Compared to what was offered in War for Cybertron, Dark of the Moon is again lacking content. What happened to the Countdown to Extinction, Power Struggle, and the Code of Power modes? Even if the movie tie in didn’t allow for the more creative modes found in War for Cybertron, couldn’t they at least replace them with something new? Even Escalation (think horde mode from Gears of War) is missing in action. I know I am doing a lot of comparing between two titles here but who could blame me? Both titles featured the Transformers, were developed by High Moon Studios, and published by Activision. You would think there would be more similarities (or at least they’d copy what worked for the last game COD style) between the two games.

    All and all, Dark of the Moon is fun game to play. I had a great time playing through the campaign and enjoyed multiple competitive gaming sessions. This is easily the best use of a movie license I’ve seen in a long time. On the other hand, the campaign is short lived and there aren’t many options when it comes to multiplayer modes. The fact that War of Cybertron exists makes it seem like High Moon didn’t put their all into the game. I honestly feel like it might have been rushed to beat the film to the box office. As it stands, if you’re a fan of everything Transformers then it might be easy to look over these faults. If you’re not a fan, then I wouldn’t recommend this title. Then again, if you’re not a fan of the Transformers you have enough problems to worry about already!



    This is easily the best licensed game out there. However, its few faults weigh heavily on its entertainment value.



    The Transformers look great. Some of the environments were a little dull. Otherwise everything was easy on the eyes.



    The weapons sounded powerful and the chatter between the bots was entertaining.

    What's New:


    Aside from being a really good licensed product, there isn’t much new here.

    Replay Value:


    The multiplayer options are fun to play. However, the lack of match types brings this score down.

    Final Score:


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