Let me start out by saying that Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn't going to out perform Portal 2, Skyrim or any other big name titles coming out this year. It's bringing nothing new to the action genre that we haven't seen before in a game of this type. It has basic character configuration, linear storytelling and once in awhile decides to give you a bit of repetitiveness in the gameplay.
With all that said, the game actually isn't half bad.
The gameplay in Transformers: Dark of the Moon is what you would expect from this action game, simplified. You can still transform between being a vehicle and a robot, using each to either evade or take on enemies. With this new title High Moon Studios has now included an in-between mode called Stealth Force. This basically allows you to stay in a vehicle-type mode, but it also arms you with weapons and an ability to sorta drift sideways when moving. If you can picture drifting with a car around corners than you will get the idea of how Stealth Force allows you to move, except you can drift everywhere.
Is there much more than that? Not really, but that's actually quite fine, as the game really does concentrate on delivering a simplified battle system that does its best to go along with the film. The main campaign is extremely short (6-7 hours depending on your gaming style) and it does get incredibly repetitive. You will see waves and waves of Decepticons rolling in from stage to stage. If you can picture any 80s action film that features waves of enemies in a war scenario then you've got a good idea of the battles here. Does that mean it's boring? Not really, the game's repetitiveness is tamed by a great third-person feel. Having the ability to scoot around quickly then transform into a giant robot in the heat of battle is a bit of a rush; though at the end of the day there truly isn't anything unique about the overall experience.
What is unique is how big the environments are in the campaign. Though you will be restricted by a linear path, the sheer girth of the cities, the terrain and the detail that High Moon has given to this game is truly above and beyond what it called for. For example, the second mission involves going into a shambled Detroit (when isn't it in shambles) and hunting down Decepticons. The buildings are huge, damaged and detailed. While I can't say much for the cars on the streets (it's Detroit! Where are the vehicle company tie-ins?!), there are just so many little details in the environment structure that are very impressive for a game of this type.
With that said, usually developers dial-in their efforts when it comes to movie licenses like these, but High Moon Studios did a great job with keeping the atmosphere of the game deeply embedded in the minds of its young gaming audience. Through great lighting, fantastic shading, very detailed character models and environments that seemingly come to life on their own, it was a great effort on High Moon's part to make this more than just another licensed movie game. Can it compete with the likes of a Crysis 2, no. Will it keep a younger audience visually entertained from beginning to end? Lord, yes.
At the end of the day, what you get with the campaign for Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn't something revolutionary, but it will beat whatever expectations you have for the game. Adults will get a kick out of this game, though Halo and Call of Duty will still rule the roost, but kids are going to eat it up. Again, it's nothing special, but it is good.
Now, what about the online play? It's simple as well, but just like the campaign it is entertaining. Broken down into four types of vehicles to choose from you will play either a Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch or a game called Conquest. The first two, if you're familiar with online play (and you should be because it's the driving force of the industry at the moment), works like you would think it would. Conquest can be compared to a capture the flag, with the exception that instead of flags you have three Energon nodes to capture. Again, it's nothing too unique or creative, but it still works well.
What impressed me about the online play, which covers all the modes, is how big the maps were. You've got maps that span a city and maps that span underground subways. While not as detailed as what you will find in the campaign, the size of the maps for a (again) movie license game is impressive. You can get lost, lose someone or just stay hidden in a place waiting for enemies. It's not constrained at all, which is great for giant robot battles. I spent an entire day entertained by online play and was pleasantly surprised by what High Moon Studios put together. One thing to note, Transformers: Dark of the Moon took a page out of Call of Duty by allowing you to customize your robots as you gain XP. You can add weapons and what not to make the online experience unique, and sometimes unfair.
So is all this worth the $59.99 being asked? It all depends on how you feel about the Transformers. If you're a huge fan or you have a child in the household that is a huge fan then probably so. You aren't getting a Call of Duty, Crysis 2 or Medal of Honor type of offline/online experience, but you will get some entertainment out of it. If you are looking for a game compared to those I just mentioned then you're better off looking at those games. Transformers: Dark of the Moon does not excel in anything, but it does bring a fun/decent game to the table, which is rare for movie licenses these days. I had fun with it, but I'm an old-school Transformers fan. You will have to decide on your own, though.