Preview of Activision’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon Video Game

The video game acts as a prequel to Michael Bay’s movie, covering the three years in between the end of Revenge of the Fallen and beginning of Dark of the Moon, and unlike the previous movie games, this one is completely linear where you have a story told in levels that goes right up to the start of the new film. While the video game focuses almost entirely on the robots with no humans, we were given a decent idea of the direction the movie is taking from the little bits of story we learned during the demonstration.

The guys from High Moon gave us a taste for the gameplay for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, telling us a little bit about the story and how it would tie into Bay’s movie. One of the biggest new additions to the third movie game is that you can play all the robots in "Stealth Force" mode, which essentially allows you to stay in a weaponized vehicle mode rather than just choosing between fighting as a robot or driving/flying in vehicle mode. The transition between forms seems to be more seamless than the previous movie game and we were told you won’t have to hold down a bumper to remain in vehicle mode. When you transform though, you go into "Stealth Force" and then you can accelerate to change into full vehicle mode.

After a brief introduction, High Moon’s Sean Miller and Terry Spier showed us six of the levels that can be played during the game, each which takes place in a different environment, each one crafted around a singe Transformer to take advantage of the different personality and abilities of that character. (Unlike previous games, you can’t choose which character you play each level as, but some of the playable characters may show up as buddies or enemies in other ones.)

The game starts with Soundwave up in the satellite he infiltrated in the previous movie as the Autobots have started to figure out that something is happening. Bumblebee is no longer guarding Sam but has taken on the role of "scout warrior," and we got to see him fighting in "Stealth Force" mode, and switching back and forth fairly effortlessly. This mode also allows "strafing," which means that the vehicle can move from left to right fairly smoothly rather than just going forward or backwards. Another cool aspect of the game is that as you explore the worlds, there will be seemingly normal cars and trucks that may turn out to be enemies.

After being off earth for years, the Decepticons are trying to start things up with the humans again by attacking cities on earth, which leads to a full invasion in the upcoming movie. The next level we watched was Ironhide fighting his way through a ravaged Detroit to meet with his ally Ratchet, the two of them trying to find a way to rebuild the trust with the humans who don’t know the difference between Autobots and Decepticons. Ironhide has a lot of cool weapons including a cool "Grenade Blossom." (The in-game discussion between the two ‘bots also mentions Mixmaster, who returns from the previous movie.)

They then switched gears to the Decepticon side of things with a level involving Soundwave going through the jungle looking for labs where the Autobots are now creating Mechtech for their human allies, weapons that are able to destroy Transformers in order to protect earth, because human weapons rarely did much damage against the Decepticons. Following Frenzy and Ravage, Soundwave’s minion for the upcoming movie is Laserbeak, and we got to see some of his gameplay in his flying vulture mode. Of course, Starscream also appears in the new game, and we got to see a level where he gets into a dogfight with the new "Aerialbots," including Silverbolt and Breakaway, before facing the main boss of that level, Autobot Stratosphere, which is in fact, the flying C130 cargo planes that carries the H.I.V.E. soldiers, though we never saw him in robot form in the movie.

At the end of the previous movie, Megatron had mostly been destroyed but he’s been using auto parts to rebuild himself, which we learn through the video game. Though they had to keep his final transformation a secret for the movie, we got to watch him in action in a series of underground tunnels.

The guys at High Moon weren’t ready to talk about the multiplayer capabilities of the new video game, and though it does seem like it’s taking more of a "shooter" aspect of War for Cybertron, we were told that at least one of the Transformers is more "melée-centric" for more close quarters combat.

Afterwards, Activision’s Kelvin Liu gave us a brief demonstration of the Nintendo 3DS, which focuses more on the vehicle mode of the characters and has similarities in the levels between the console games.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon may open nationwide on July 1, but you can get your first taste when the video game comes out in mid-June. (Tentatively set for June 14.)