So apparently Transformers: War for Cybertron has decided to come out of hiding, and it looks very interesting. Taking a tack from Batman: Arkham Asylum, the game is not tied to any specific movie or cartoon (though AA does draw a lot from recent Batman work) and attempts to act as a standalone entity. The preview movie does look very cool, as well as some of the concept artwork (Megatron looks very bad ass). It’s too early to really see any of the gameplay, but if they can nail it, I think they’ll have a success.
See, I don’t think people have anything against licensed games in and of themselves. There’s a lot of good early licensed NES games, for instance – Capcom’s Disney series are a prime example. DuckTales, Chip & Dale, and Darkwing Duck were all good platformers that wrapped good gameplay around a license. Modern licensed games are usually shovelware, designed around tight deadlines more to market something else than to be genuinely good games. However, I believe if you lift the creative and time restrictions on these licensed games, you can get some truly good games released.
Arkham Asylum wasn’t the best game of 2009, but it certainly was very good. It had rough spots, like all games do, but overall it was worth playing. This new Transformers game seems to be going in the same direction. Give a team creative freedom with a license (as you would with a new comic series or a new movie) and you will probably get something far more interesting in a game. Hopefully these games, as well as Warren Spector’s Mickey Mouse (I refuse to call it Epic Mickey), will give license holders more incentive to give their licenses out to people who can do interesting things with it.