Its not that High Moon Studios can't produce the goods. Last year's War on Cybertron surprised with its quality, and while the Gears of War influence can't be overlooked, the title ranked as the best use of the Robots in Disguise licence in gaming since, well, forever.
We bring that up because its the very same developer who have crafted this. This being another piss-poor entry into both franchise and the movie tie-in genre whose faults are clearly due to the sloppy tripe that comes from not having enough development time. More the shame, because we'd have loved to see what the studio could haves whipped up without the shadow of Michael Bay relentlessly cracking the whip over its shoulders.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is intended as a precursor to the upcoming blockbuster (in cinemas this month), leading up the all-out war promised in the various trailers dominating advert breaks currently. For once it feels less cop-out, more good idea since there's likely plenty of gaps in the story ripe for action-aided filler between the second and third movies (what happened to Megan Fox not being one of them).
The campaign's split into seven chapters, with a new Transformer to be controlled in each, as the story skips between the Autobot and Decepticon sides, though it seems they've been reading from the same "Generic AI Attack" book for their enemy strategy cues.
Lack of variation is broken up somewhat by the ability to transform into your present character vehicular form. Trucks, sports car or armoured vehicle's turbo boosts, which are activated with the shoulder buttons, can topple marauding enemies when they're slammed into. It's a small but interesting mechanic that could have been something really good if the studio had time to give it a proper polish.
Playing in a nippy vehicular disguise is more entertaining than a bipedal robot that seems to have its setting stuck in first gear. A third 'stealth force' form, which sits halfway between humanoid and disguise at the touch of a button, lets you strafe enemies and unload unlimited barrage of bullets into them. However, due to its usefulness it imbalances the other choices on offer (Stealth force lacks the slowness of robot form, and the imprecision of vehicle form) and the game's pacing suffers as a result.
Another problem is the level builds, tight and constricting compared to War on Cybertron's bigger battlefields, whiffing again of tight production rather than design choice. A lack of co-op just adds to Dark of Moon's shortcoming's when stacked against its older brother.
There is a multiplayer mode, but the lacklustre design and generic game types means it won't be entering your top ten choices any time soon. Along with poor graphics, long load times and you're looking at a game that needs to be sent straight to the scrapyard. At least it won't be lonely, joining such heavyweights in the field as Terminator: Salvation, Iron Man 2, as well as the previous Transformers movie tie-ins. Meanwhile, we're await the next "proper" Transformers title from High Moon, one that doesn't suffer from such restrictions as this so clearly has.