With consumer interest revitalised in Hasbro’s now lucrative IP, Activision once again draws inspiration from the franchise in Transformers Prime: The Game.
This Nintendo platform exclusive is squarely aimed at a younger demographic and largely succeeds in capturing the essence of the computer-animated series. More so due to the fact that its narrative takes place alongside the events of its second season.
We open with the Decepticons having stumbled upon a gigantic meteor that is composed entirely of Dark Energon, using the Nemesis to manoeuvre it away from Earth’s orbit. Having detected the Decepticon presence the Autobots rush to intervene, successfully breaking the tether pulling the meteor yet causing it to crumble – a creature within the cavernous rock soon awakened by the disturbance.
The Autobots tumble to Earth, and it falls to human companions Jack, Raf and Miko to discover them, as they reunite to discover the secrets behind the Decepticon plan.
There are thirteen stages to the game’s Story Mode, which you can expect to take an average player around five hours to complete. Each stage sees you flit between differing Autobots, which incorporate key characters within Hasbro’s enigmatic universe.
Optimus Prime, Arcee, Bulkhead, Ratchet and Bumblebee fly the flag for the Autobots, whilst the Decepticon threat is ever present through appearances from Megatron, Airachnid, Starscream, Knock Out, Insections and Dreadwing.
This is largely a third-person brawler, with players smashing and blasting their way through individual stages as they seek to complete objectives. Chase sequences are thrown into the mix to grant variety, seeing players steering with the gyroscopic controls of the Wii U GamePad, and boss fights often prove a highlight as the gargantuan robotic rivals go head-to-head.
Combat itself, although relatively basic with only three combo types available to you, will be largely gratifying to the target audience. Simple enough to pick up, yet still with its challenges. You’ve got access to melee attacks and guns, with faster and stronger attacks available as you so wish.
Hammering your foes will see the upgrade gauge gradually fill, and, once full, you can briefly enhance your attack for a limited duration by tapping the corresponding icon on the touchscreen or the L Button. Shields will allow you to temporarily prevent yourself from receiving damage, whilst transforming into a vehicle will see you whizzing around environments as you pepper them with shots from afar.
Implementation of the Wii U GamePad is reduced to displaying your bonus objectives, achieving these enabling you to increase your overall rank when completing the stage – such parameters including a level time limit, collectables and a damage meter. Other than that, it’s only off-TV support that proves to be of any noteworthy benefit.
Collectibles appear in the form of Cybertron Artifacts, scattered throughout Story Mode and, after completing stages after collection, allow players to unlock Gallery content. This includes Character Profiles and Concept Art, which will likely appeal to eager fans.
An assortment of 50 Emblems will similarly vie for your attention, awarded for performing specific in-game actions. These range from destroying enemies with certain moves, achieving high stage ranks, and completing stages without taking damage, for example.
Beyond this, it will be the game’s Multiplayer Mode that will occupy your time. Here, Autobots and Decepticons continue the fight, with additional characters and multiplayer stages unlocked through completion of the Story Mode.
With only local multiplayer available, you can either face off against the AI or a human opponent, with three game modes to choose between Brawl, Energon Match and Emblem Battle. Whilst these offer nothing new in terms of design – the last man standing, points scoring, as well as capture and hold styles of gameplay – they’ll be enjoyed among friends.
Areas in which the game finds itself showing rust are the visuals, which are a sharpened upgrade on its Wii counterpart, a lack of true Wii U GamePad integration, and the aforementioned lack of depth in regards to combat.
However, what becomes apparent is that there’s certainly potential here, expanded development time for an inevitable sequel allowing Transformers Prime: The Game to present a foundation to be built upon.