Developed by Treyarch, Vicarious Visions; published by Activision; available now for PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Transformers: The Game
Developed by Traveller's Tales; published by Activision; available now for PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Licensed games, from Madden 4,728 to Pokémon: Slightly Burnt Magenta, are a huge chunk of the game industry, and ever since "blockbuster" ceased being an adjective and started being a genre, mediocre tie-in games have launched alongside summer movies. With two of this summer's big movies, Spider-Man 3 and Transformers, quality is debatable; when it comes to their accompanying games, however, it's hard to decide which is worse.
Let's hit Spidey first: Feeling and looking pretty much identical to all the previous Spider-Man games, Spider-Man 3 allows you to web-sling through New York (the best part of the game) and forces you to complete lame quests using button-mashing combat (the vast majority of the game). Meanwhile, Transformers: The Game lets you play as shape-shiftin' robots who can destroy everything in sight. Both games pay lip service to the expansive "do anything" world of the Grand Theft Auto series, but neither follows through, thanks to contrived missions, floaty controls, and restricted movement. Yes, it's cool shifting from a semi truck into a robot—but for anyone over the age of five, that's not enough to keep them entertained for more than 15 minutes.
Which might be the problem: While the median age of gamers has increased, publishers still think we'll happily play licensed crap. And—this is the part that hurts—they can't be blamed. Not with games like these selling so well, and not with dumbasses giddily buying everything from Splinter Cell: Superfluous Mission to Final Fantasy Crystal Magic Rainbows XXVII to, inevitably, Transformers 2: The Game and Spider-Man 4.