Last year, Transformers fans were given the surprisingly good War for Cybertron game on consoles. With Transformers: Dark of the Moon hitting consoles and handhelds alike this year, many are hoping that this new title will be another solid entry like its predecessor. Focusing in on the 3DS counterpart for this review, Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition, players are unfortunately given a broken movie tie-in for those that want to torture themselves on-the-go.
To my surprise, there is one aspect of the game that is actually bearable. When not in a mission, the player is sometimes presented with eye-catching cutscenes. These are easily the best part of the game as they provide vibrant and detailed visuals of various Transformers for fans to enjoy. It’s just too bad that you won’t really care about what’s actually going on in the cutscene. Just enjoy the visuals and revel in the fact that you aren’t partaking in the gameplay yet.
There was a story being told during those cutscenes? I’m sorry. I was more interested in staring blankly at the moving visuals than listening to the sad excuse of a story being attempted to be told. The “story” here is nothing more than a sad excuse to try and justify why you’re repetitively driving in circles shooting similar enemy vehicles.
Missions in Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition rarely attempt to distinguish themselves from past levels. It’s either shoot opposing Transformer vehicles till the game tells you to stop or race between checkpoints. Neither is a better alternative to the other. They both somehow manage to last mere minutes while still maintaining a tedious feel throughout them. Combat portions require that you shift into your Stealth Force form to defeat enemies. Stealth Force mode is nothing more than a fancy name for combat vehicle status (anything you’ve seen in games like Full Auto pretty much). This changes the controls into “strafe only” mode where your shoulder buttons allow you to turn and face different directions and the analog stick is used to move forward or backward. Racing sections are obviously accomplished by staying in the normal car form to maximize speed. While in this car form, all turning and driving is done with only the analog stick. As you’ll notice right away, the fighting sequences devolve quickly into strafing around certain targets as you pepper them with machine gun fire and rockets in Stealth Force mode. Then, every once in a while, you’ll exit combat and switch back to a regular car to drive around the tiny arenas to find energon to replenish health. It is a boring method that you’ll be forced to use over and over until the game ends.
You may have noticed that I only mentioned Stealth Force and basic car transformations. I didn’t forget to add anything, but it seems the developers have. This is a Transformers game where the player isn’t allowed to transform into the iconic robots that we’ve come to know and love. What kind of Transformer game stops you from seeing a Transformers true form? Well, actually you do get to see Optimus and the others as hulking robots, but only in those cutscenes I mentioned earlier. So don’t expect to run around and wreak havoc using melee.
In regards to other major missing components, touch screen isn’t utilized here. On a handheld that has an entire screen dedicated to touch screen, its a surprise that there isn’t a single mechanic that uses this feature. Even something as simple as selecting options at the title screen or main menu can’t be done with the stylus. At first I thought this couldn’t be and began to wonder if my touch screen wasn’t responding. Fortunately for me that wasn’t the case, but unfortunately for the game that showed me that I was probably in for an innovative-less ride.
Handheld games are never held to the standard that console games are in terms of length, but this is simply unacceptable. Players can reach the ending credits easily within a couple hours if not less. Like I said, the game’s missions tend to be extremely short while feeling drawn out due to the fact that they lack any type of fun factor. So while the game only clocks in at two or so hours, it feels as if it took a much greater portion of your time and this is by no means a good thing either. You’ll either be disgusted at the paltry campaign length or the fact that those two hours felt like a painful eternity.
Besides the cutscenes, the game is a complete dumpster fire. While those cutscenes brought a distinctive and interesting look to the game, the gameplay looks as terrible as it plays. This game takes “jaggies” to a whole new level. Nothing in these tiny levels looks remotely polished. So not only can you not stand playing the game, you can barely handle looking at it either.
Transformers Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition for the Nintendo 3DS offers very little for fans and as a game in general. The simple fact that you are limited to transforming between a car and a car with guns is ridiculous. The graphics are terrible and the controls don’t aid the already broken and dull gameplay in any way. And this is a game that’ll wrap everything up within a couple hours. The one portion of the game that it seems effort was put into was the only part I wasn’t actually playing. Now that’s saying something. Transformers fan or not, your money is better spent elsewhere…seriously, anywhere else.
[Editor’s Note: Transformers: Dark of the Moon was reviewed on the 3DS platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3DS Review,