With the recent string of live-action movies, the Transformers have transformed from geek icons into a mainstream franchise. But in doing so, they’ve lost some of what made them special. The subpar iOS game Transformers: Dark of the Moon is further proof of this downturn.
Movie tie-ins aren’t known for having great stories, and this one is no exception. As always, the Decepticons are trying to destroy Earth when the Autobots come in to save the day. Each of the game’s 13 levels involves running through a variety of cities as either Optimus Prime or Bumblebee as you destroy the Decepticon army. Hopefully, the new movie’s plot is not quite as predictable and dull.
Instead of finding creative ways to make the game difficult, Transformers: Dark of the Moon just spams you with enemies and bombs. It’s hard to take five steps in the game without being greeted by a swarm of opponents. To make matters worse, there are only a few types of Decepticons, with little difference between each. Occasionally, you’ll also fight Decepticons with purple shields who can only be hurt with melee attacks.
Who’s the boss?
The gameplay is your usual dual-stick shooter fare. You can equip two weapons at any time and must switch between them often to avoid having them overheat. Melee attacks can be performed by tapping the right analog stick. You also have a special meter that fills up as you collect energon cubes. There are two special moves– one that can be used when the meter is halfway full, and a rocket launcher where you tap on enemies to target them and then watch sparks fly. Finally, there’s a roll button that you’ll rarely need to use.
There is one gameplay aspect that does stand out, though: the ability to transform into car mode. This move is only useful in segments where the game prompts you to change forms, but it happens often enough to keep it feeling relevant. Driving through city streets while avoiding bombs and mines is easily the most enjoyable part of the game.
We also enjoyed Transformers: Dark of the Moon’s upgradable weapons. Using energons as currency, you can unlock, upgrade, and equip new weapons between levels. These include rapid-fire, splash damage, and spread shotgun rounds. You can also upgrade your character to enhance their melee, stamina, and special attacks.
Bumblebee proves that neon yellow is the best color camouflage.
If you’re looking for replay value, you aren’t going to find any here. After you complete the game, all that’s left to do is further expand and upgrade your arsenal by replaying levels. There isn’t any survival mode or major unlock that makes it worth continuing the Decepticon massacre. Once you finish the campaign, which took us roughly two and a half hours, you might as well leave these robots to rust.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a run-of-the-mill dual-stick shooter, and that just doesn’t cut it on the App Store. You’d be better off spending your money on Transformers G1: Awakening, an excellent turn-based game that costs a few dollars less.