Being the resident Finger Guns Transformers fan (to put it mildly), when I was told there was a Transformers game coming to PSVR2, I’m not sure I could have been more excited. At even the mention of Transformers, I’m always transported back to the excitement of 1984 when I got my first Transformers toy. Of course, I gladly jumped at the chance to don my new headset and give it a go.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t. Transformers Beyond Reality has to be the biggest wasted opportunity I’ve witnessed since Dark of the Moon. So, let’s get stuck in and see where it all went so wrong.
Players take the role of an anonymous human character (let’s just say it’s Daniel from the Transformers The Animated Movie) who has been given a hi-tech exo suit to help fight the Decepticons. I say help, but don’t expect much help in return from the Autobots as you barely get to see them.
You can choose from three different kinds of exo-suit, each one offering its own selection of different weapons and abilities. In the Transformers animated movie, the exo-suit allows Daniel to move around and transform into a bike-like vehicle. In Transformers Beyond Reality, it allows you to transform into…nothing. This is an on-rails shooter, no more no less, and you are firmly stuck with no movement allowed and definitely no transforming.
Things just continue to disappoint. There are just six levels you can choose from the title screen, each one containing the same enemies, attack patterns and random obstacles, with little to no variety. In fact, through the entire game, you are treated to just five different enemies. Three Insecticon drones, a generic drone, and seeker drones in the last two levels. I’m not sure what the developers were thinking. Where are the Stunticons racing past combining into Menasor for a boss battle or the Aerialbots flying overhead to help out? It really is a dire selection, and to be honest, doesn’t deserve to be part of the Transformers universe.
You’ll certainly get used to these drones as there is a hell of a lot of them for you to shoot down. The onslaught is relentless and strangely boring because of it, but to make matters worse there is no auto-fire option. Your trigger finger is going to run out of energy before your health meter does! And your boredom threshold is going to run out even quicker, especially as the levels can last what feels like an endless ten minutes.
There is an auto-fire power-up which helps a little and offers a short respite but lasts just seconds so it doesn’t really help. Other power-ups include shield and health regeneration and that’s about it.
As shooting is the sole purpose of the game it’s inexcusable that the weapons fire should feel limp and lifeless. Given the magic held within the Dual Sense controllers, I would have expected much more bang for my buck. As it stands, you can’t feel these powerful lasers shooting from your hands, or the weighty explosions. At times I wondered if the Dual Sense was even working. It was, but barely.
Unfortunately, this floaty wishy-washy feeling continues into parts of the game you need to feel the most. For example, when Optimus Prime and Megatron are in mid-battle or Grimlock comes running past, you should be able to feel these vibrations in the headset or in the triggers. I wanted to feel something, anything. You just don’t get the sense that these giant robots are going toe to toe right next to you.
Put it this way. Imagine the sheer wonderment when the Tall Neck walks past you in this year’s Horizon: Call of the Mountain. The vibrations, the sounds; you genuinely feel the sense of weight and massiveness. It’s awe-inspiring. Transformers: Beyond Reality is the polar opposite.
This is down to two main issues. Firstly, even for an on-rails-shooter, the level design is not good. The paths you travel down are really wide, so everything seems to take place at a distance, it almost feels like you’re just playing the game on a big screen as opposed to a VR environment. In VR you need objects near and far so your brain can get a sense of scale. Secondly, on the very rare occasion that you do see some actual Transformers, either battling or doing something for the mission, the game doesn’t stop so you can savor the moment, you just carry on down the road shooting the incessant drones and you end up missing the whole thing.
Its only saving grace was the Cybertron level where there is a lot more detail and much better use of the Transformers characters. It’s quite something seeing the seeker jets scream overhead, and there are some set pieces that actually stand out. But by this point, it’s just too little too late. If you make it to Cybertron you should be given a trophy for surviving the rest of the game. The mid-level cutscenes are presented in a nice comic book style and the voice acting is carried out by the actors from the recent cartoons so that helps give a little authenticity.
It’s an outrage that Transformers Beyond Reality isn’t a better game because its VR controls are excellent. Despite the constant moving, I didn’t once experience any motion sickness and the shooting accuracy is also on point – more often than not, I was hitting the intended target. The variety of weapons available to the different suits is also good, with swords, shields, rail guns, and lasers all at your disposal. It’s just a shame they all feel so weak and feeble.
With six levels and five difficulties along with Arcade and Story mode, there is a little bit to keep you going but not much. Truth be told if it wasn’t for the occasional appearance of a random Autobot or Decepticon that we know and love this could be any generic on-rail shooter. I kept asking myself, we’re in VR, where is Metroplex or Trypticon? Where’s Omega Supreme or Scorpion? For that matter why are we playing as an anonymous human in an exo-suit when we could be playing as a Headmaster or TargetMaster. Gah, I’m gutted.
Transformers: Beyond Reality is a missed opportunity that has little to offer gamers or Transformers fans alike. If you want your Transformers gaming fix then stick to Transformers Devastation or the War For Cybertron trilogy.
Transformers Beyond Reality launched on PSVR2 on the 9th May 2023 on PlayStation 5 (review platform).
Developer: Meta4 Interactive Inc
Publisher: Meta4 Interactive Inc.
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