GAME NAME: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
DEVELOPER(S): High Moon Studios
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): August 21, 2012
This review is based on the Playstation 3 version of the game.
No one can dispute the iconic “robots in disguise” from the eighties have made a sharp comeback in recent years in large part to Michael Bay’s reboot of the franchise with his over-the-top action sequences, a seemingly never ending budget and maybe most importantly, a scantly clad Megan Fox constantly running for her life. In 2010, the franchise showed their success could transfer over to the video game industry as well with High Moon Studio’s Transformers: War for Cybertron – a game that received praise for both its campaign and competitive multiplayer. After a poorly executed movie tie-in that lacked the refinement of War for Cybertron, High Moon Studios has returned to deliver the Transformers game fans demanded. Not only does Transformers: Fall of Cybertron exceeds expectations and manages to add in some as well.
Fall of Cybertron picks up right where it’s predecessor left off, during the darkest hours of the dying planets final days. The Autobots, now lead by Optimus Prime, must make a desperate attempt to flee off-world for survival as the infected planet purges the Dark Energon coursing through it. Megatron’s forces continue to grow as the civil war rages on reaching it’s peak and threatening to destroy the Ark, a large transport vessel and ultimately the Autobots last hope for escape. The story telling pays homage to die-hard fans of the series while being accessible to newcomers attracted by the sound of twisting metal and explosions. Fall of Cybertron offers the player an opportunity to play as both Autobots and Decepticons through the singleplayer’s thirteen chapters, adding both depth and perspective to our favorite alien machines.
This time around High Moon Studios delivers a more cohesive narrative as each level is designed with a specified Transformer in mind, complementing their special abilities to deliver a game-play experience that constantly evolves throughout the entire campaign. As Optimus Prime, swarms of enemies oppose you in wide open areas allowing you to make full use of his high-powered arsenal while calling in artillery strikes. Inside an overrun military base, Cliffjumper fights from the shadows using an active camo to cloak himself from enemies as he sneaks up and disposes of them with hand-to-hand combat. Unlike the other transformers who can go into their alternate mode at will, Grimlock must first fill his rage meter slicing Decepticons into scrap with his sword before he can change into a fire-breathing dinosaur. An elegant remedy to the repetitive combat that plagued War for Cybertron, but at what price?.
A noticeably missing key feature of the campaign was the cooperative function found in War for Cybertron. The choice to discard the mode will be met with negative reactions from most, as it comes with the cost of re-playability. Designed with a casual style of play, the narrative would have benefited from such teamwork, instead you are asked to goat it solo. As more games each year adapt and embrace cooperative gameplay, it does force gamers to stop and question the developers decision to remove it when it worked so well in the past.
Co-op may be missing, but a majority of Fall of Cybertron combat remains a third-person shooter. The AI’s ability to crouch behind strategically placed chest-high walls combined with a lack of a dedicated cover system for the player can often be troublesome and frustrating. On higher difficulties with ammo in short supply, standing behind walls and pillars for protection only peaking out to fire, has rounds wasted as your view is obstructed more often than not. Fortunately nothing more then a mute issue on easier modes when you can just run and gun, raining destruction down on everything in your path. In or out of combat, most of the Transformers have the ability to go into vehicle mode on command, but this does little to enhance the experience, often only to be used when prompted to escape destruction or walking grows tiresome and you must travel a long distance.
Whether you’re running, driving or flying, as you progress through each level, you will come across multiple Teletran-1 kiosks that enable you to spend earned energon and customize your load out. By upgrading your favorite weapons, tech and perks, to your style of play combat has a tailored feel. Since most upgrades are cheap and energon picked up from enemy scraps, you will have the opportunity to to find what suits you best early on and build from there.
Fall of Cybertron’s use of the Unreal Engine 3 fails to deliver any playable wow moments. While cut-scenes have some fancy action segments that sparkle, once the control is given back to the player things go downhill. On Playstation 3, textures were often muddy and failed to pop until you were on top of them. During some of the heavier game sequences, the engine chugged along often freezing up. Admittedly it did little to disrupt combat, which often continued to play out smooth, but still felt like a missed opportunity to show current gen hardware and software can still produce amazing eye-candy. While it fails to stun visually, long time fans of the franchise will be ecstatic to see their favorite voice actors return to deliver one liner after one liner.
Gamers saddened by the announcement that co-op campaign did not make a return trip for the sequel, but still lust for cooperative gameplay, may find consolation in Escalation – a horde style mode. Join forces with up to four players online as fifteen waves of enemies descend upon your location to make scrap metal out of you. Every kill will net you energon which can be used to purchase weapons, upgrades and unlock doors to other areas within the arena. Players have the option to drop in or out mid-game without disrupting everyone. Those who can’t work together as a team and communicate will often find their matches ending in defeat. While it is a nice addition to the game, it doesn’t compete with Gears of War’s Horde 2.0, Nazi Zombies or even Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer that all have a higher level of polish.
Competitive multiplayer is back with another solid release. Offering such game modes as Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Capture the Flag and Headhunter, the civil war on Cybertron is sure to last well into the holiday season. As in the previous installment, you will have the option to choose from four classes; Titans, Infiltrators, Destroyers, and Scientist, each with its own unique set of perks to create a balanced style of play. As you level up each class individually, you will also have the opportunity to customize your Transformer part by part that reflect in both robot and vehicle mode giving you a personalized look as you leave your mark on the online community.
While the cooperative campaign’s exclusion from Fall of Cybertron is a step back, the team at High Moon Studios found a way to take a great game and enhance it in almost every other way addressing the issues War for Cybertron faced. The combination of great source material and a delivery method that allows old and new fans to enjoy a franchise that not so long ago was fading from existence is reason alone to play. Now get back in the game and roll out!
A copy of the game was provided to us by Activision for reviewing purposes.
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