Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the second Transformers outing for developer High Moon Studios, who made a huge splash with their original take on the ongoing war between the Autobots and Decepticons, Transformers: War for Cybertron. Though Dark of the Moon assumes the unfortunate role of being a movie tie-in many aspects of the game imply that High Moon has more creative control over the game’s content than other tie-in developers.

To help generate interest in the game, Activision has just announced that prominent retailers Amazon and GameStop will be offering unique pre-order characters for use in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game’s multiplayer arenas.

By pre-ordering the game at Amazon, players will unlock the character of Ratchet, medical officer previously seen in both the first Transformers and Revenge of the Fallen, while the offering at GameStop is the character of Sideswipe, the slick sports car appearing most notably in the opening scene of Revenge of the Fallen.

While Decepticon fans might be disappointed by the Autobot favoritism, these pre-order bonuses are hard to pass up, especially if they add a strategic advantage to the multiplayer component of Dark of the Moon. If War for Cybertron is any indication, the power-ups and abilities of each unique Transformer can help decide the difference between the top and the bottom of the leader board.

Transformers fans who might be interested in waiting until day one to pick up Dark of the Moon or who are more interested in the Autobot and Decepticon-themed DS versions of the game will also be able to net themselves a few exclusive gifts on launch day. See below for the full list of retailer exclusives:

  • Channel wide – Original BUMBLEBEE toys with the Wii and NDS AUTOBOTS game and original LOCKDOWN toy with the NDS DECEPTICONS game
  • Best Buy – FREE movie ticket upgrade to 3D
  • Toys R’ Us – Exclusive Inverted BUMBLEBEE in-game character skin for 3DS game
  • Target – Exclusive BUMBLEBEE Deco in-game character for NDS AUTOBOTS game and Wii game and Exclusive LOCKDOWN Deco in-game character for NDS DECEPTICONS
  • K-Mart/Sears – Original, limited edition Transformers: Dark of the Moon comic book from IDW Publishing

Set during a time previous to the events of the movie, High Moon’s Dark of the Moon title will ensure that gamers have a multitude of options for taking down their foes. Featured in Dark of the Moon is a new mode called Stealth Force that blends the agility of the Transformers’ vehicle form with the assault capabilities of being in full robot mode.

With a unique story and High Moon’s success with War for Cybertron, Dark of the Moon has a chance to prove that, in the hands of a proven developer, any property can survive the movie tie-in game. Pre-orders are being accepted at all of the retailers with the finished game set to release later this summer.

Which of the pre-order bonuses or exclusives are you the most interested in obtaining? Do you think that Dark of the Moon will be able to break the movie tie-in curse?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon releases June 14, 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, DS, 3DS, and Wii.