Transformers follows the Autobots (good guys) trying to beat the Decepticons (bad guys) to finding the Mini-Cons. Mini-Cons are midget robots that give the holder special abilities, so you can see what the Autobots are after them first.
Choosing from one of three Autobots, players are let loose in some of the biggest levels you'll see this side of GTA. The very first level, set in the Amazon rainforest has quite literally hundreds of trees to stroll through, drive through and even fly through - come to that later. After climbing to the tallest point of the level, the summit of a Mayan temple, you can see for miles ahead of you, and even zoom in on tiny specks of enemies that you wouldn't see otherwise. All with no slowdown.
Mini-Cons' locations are given away by telltale yellow glows, but this does not make the challenge easy at all. There are as many as 10 to find in each level, and with up to 10 Data-Cons to find too - a way of gaining extras such as videos, music and even 1980's TV spots - you'll have your work cut out.
The extras themselves are great and really add something to the game. There are the aforementioned game cutscenes - with excellent direction and voice acting - game music and the TV spots. The TV spots are safety videos from the 1980's featuring classic Transformers telling you to 'not run away from home' and - in a single breath - 'I bet you know you should've worn a lifejacket - accidents can happen and lifejackets are good protection' that are hilarious to watch, even if the humour is unintentional. Other extras include toy production photos, concept art and mini-comics which came boxed with Transformer toys.
The Mini-Cons are assigned to the 4 shoulder buttons, and there are different types. Some improve your blaster module, others give you a shield, and obtaining the Slipstream Mini-Con even gives your chosen Autobot a pair of glider wings, which makes accessing high-up Mini-Cons easier to reach. Getting hold of novelty Mini-Cons such as the Tractor Beam makes the game a lot more enjoyable; there's loads of laughs to be had throwing enemies off of clifftops and watching them explode hundreds of feet below.
The gameplay of Transformers is refined but a bit inaccessible - on the surface it's standard shoot-em-up but dig down deeper and it's one helluva game. As you move through the levels - from Antarctica to the mid-Atlantic and the final showdown on the robot planet of Cybertron - the enemies get harder, and with that the gameplay gets a lot more frustrating. The Autobots cannot upgrade their health - apart from linking similar Mini-Cons to create backup health - so as the enemies get stronger it gets harder for you, especially when they get bigger guns. Even on a difficultly level which is basically called 'Wimpy Gaming Baby' you'll find yourself throwing the controller against the wall. A lot.
The 'Transform' of Transformers finally comes into effect when you tap Triangle. Pressing this makes your Transformer perform a smooth backflip and as they do, they change into their vehicle mode. Hot Shot
the youngest Autobot, but the fastest - turns into a flash sports car
which easily outruns any enemies. Red Alert performs a fancy flip into an emergency SUV - complete with emergency signs on the side. The largest of the lot, and leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime turns his tall and heavy robot body into a massive truck cab, which makes everything explode on contact. Owie.
Bosses in Transformers are also big hulking metal masses. The first boss becomes a common enemy later in the game. One of the biggest bosses require a sniper rifle to just get him into range, and no wonder: he's an aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier.
All is learnt through a steep learning curve, but eventually you'll get the hang on your preferred Mini-Cons and which Autobots you think you're best with. Transformers isn't exactly completely forgiving, but once you settle into its style of gameplay, you'll be gliding from hilltops onto enemy transporters and flinging around enemies on the ground below without a scratch.
Once you've got the hang of the game, you'll begin to notice the freedom you have. Will you follow the mission or run off in search of Mini-Cons? Will you run head-on into battle or snipe from a distance? Will you shoot everyone you see, or stop the coming of more enemies by hopping on board an enemy transporter mid-flight and blow it up from the inside out? It's your choice, and with Transformers pretty much anything is possible, within reason.
So, is it a must have or a cult game in waiting? It's close, but Transformers just hits the mark. The gameplay and the learning curve are hard to get used to, but once you get past that you can see the potential of the the game and how much fun it wants you to have. You read that right. Regardless of it's kiddy roots, Transformers is an enjoyable game for all that just wants you to have fun blowing stuff up, flying, driving, and generally kicking (metal) butt. Get it in now