Just when we figured that the Transformers videogames had finally dragged themselves out of the Constructicons' scrapyard, along came another Michael Bay Hollywood tie-in... and, well, it was a case of 'fall flat', rather than 'roll out'.
Even High Moon, daddies of the impressive War for Cybertron, didn't have the power to turn that turkey round. Fear not though, because Dark was their 'B' team, with the 'A' side having been busily beavering away on this direct sequel ever since the first one broke cover.
Under the working title of 'Apocalypse' - which might give you some idea as to the tragic fate of the Transformers' home planet - Activision reckon they've crafted a title that'll stand up there with Arkham City as far as licence-fulfilling potential goes. Lofty claims, but do they hold true?
Crucially, High Moon has listened to the passion of the fans when forging this much-improved sequel. They've revised the health situ at checkpoints, fixed that irksome meagre ammo situation, totally reprogrammed the AI Transformation routines... but it's the story - and the various mechanics employed within telling that story - that have seen the most adjustment. There's now more time to breathe, to absorb the dying world around you, to drink in the tragedy of the Autobots abandonment of Cybertron... before High Moon unleashes the kind of titanic bots upon us that'd have even the hulking Omega Supreme transforming into his scaredy-cat form.
Kicking things off with Optimus Prime - who else? - our fave red rig is now rocking a bold new militaristic aesthetic in keeping with his role as Autobot war leader. He's also in dire need of some reinforcements as the Decepticons threaten to overwhelm his scattered forces. Enter Metroplex: a city-sized mech who can be ordered about the battlefield during various breaks in Prime's action to scatter swathes of insect-like baddies asunder.
If Metroplex isn't directly playable, then the colossal Combaticon Bruticus sure is. In a neat build-up to the Autobot stomping action though, you'll get to control various limbs - like the chopper Vortex - before the main event commences. Aside from the big guns, a swathe of more familiar faces are also back, and they arguably star in Fall's most intriguing, ambitious missions.
We saw Cliffjumper navigating a stealth-themed maze of dangerous patrol bots, and Jazz wielding an energo-grapple hook to swing about a vertiginous cityscape. It's this crucial mixing up of the original title's painfully one-note pacing that perhaps promises the biggest breakthrough.
The biggest news of all, though, is the emergence of Grimlock and his Dinobots. Re-envisaged by High Moon as a tortured victim of the Decepticon scientist Shockwave's evil experiments, Grimlock is as unique a character in-game as he is in Transformers lore - whether as sword and shield-wielding melee master or unstoppable tyrannosaur.
Factor in some exciting improvements to the original's unexpectedly stellar multiplayer and all the signs point to High Moon steering their series back on track.
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