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There are two ways to define Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. On the chart of every game ever made, it's way down at the bottom. It's an awful game, as expected of pretty much every movie tie-in game. On the other hand, on the chart of movie games, it's actually not that far down. It's an awful, awful game, but as far as awful games go, it's not as awful as the other awful games. Wow, does that make any sense?
At moments, the game is genuinely fun. There's quite a wide variety of weapons and upgrade which are fun to fiddle with. The Grenade launcher (Mark II, of course), is a blast! The first few levels are the best, because they're fairly easy. It's fun to run around the level blowing things up, then turning into a car and zooming away. However, within a few levels the enemies get progressively harder, and can take away large portions of your health bar with a single shot. At this point it becomes a case of holding the left bumper, X and pressing A until you get RSI (that's lock on, firing and repeatedly jumping to avoid enemy fire). As you may have guessed, it gets boring fast. Towards the end of the game, when you unlock some of the heavier weapons such as the upgraded rocket launcher and grenade launcher, it becomes more fun because you can destroy the enemies very quickly.
It's fun to run around the level blowing things up, then turning into a car and zooming away.
However, you know what isn't fun? Broken levels and poor design choice all mixed up in one. Example one: checkpoints. Please, please, place your checkpoints regularly. It is not fun to be sent miles back because of a flaw in the game. However, if you can't manage that, then at least manage this; put checkpoints in front of bosses. I mean, they're designed to kill you, at least the first few times. Why, oh why, do you enjoy watching me die as I learn the fight and then send me back to the previous section, forced to refight through waves of enemies just to reach the boss again. I mean, this is simple right? How can anyone, let alone a company of people who - for a living - make games. This should be second nature, game design 101, rule number one. Don't punish the player.
Of course, what's even more fun than being sent back miles because you fall into a pit of lava? Being sent back miles because of shoddy game design and bugs! So I'm at the afore mentioned boss fight, where I'm already bound to die at least twice of my own volition, and now I can't touch the walls. That's right, in the first boss fight, where strafing is required at all times, strafe too much and you'll be sent back to the beginning of the level. Playing this game is almost painful at times.
Let's see what other gaming sins can be committed in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Ah, of course: repetition. I realise that, if you've read this far you probably already guessed that repetition is rampart in this game, but bear with me. Sticking with boss fights, there are three of them in the game. Sorry, did I say three? I meant one. There is no real difference between the boss fights. Then again, there's no difference between ordinary enemies either, so I don't know why I'm surprised. There's a transformer enemy, a turret enemy and some kind of mini tank. I mean, as far as the technical side of the game goes, it's not awful. The maps are fairly large and sprawling, and although the graphics are poor they aren't the worst I've seen on the DS. But it's the complete lack of thought and interesting ideas that have gone into the game that make it no fun to play. Is thinking of a single thing to distinguish between boss fights really that hard?
Transforming into your car and boosting around is fun, and so is blowing up the waves of enemies that come at you, for a while.
Have you guessed where I'm going with this? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is awful. They've made mistake after mistake with designing the game, and I just can't see why. Ok, I can understand bugs, because it's not like they intentionally put them in there, annoying as they are. But checkpoints, and even I can tell you this, are good.
That said, the game isn't completely devoid of fun. Transforming into your car and boosting around is fun, and so is blowing up the waves of enemies that come at you, for a while. But it gets old fast, and once you're bored with those two things you're faced with many more reasons for not playing this game.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: