2012-08-31

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – More Fun Than Meets The Eye

by Yo Snyder

High Moon Studies proved that it was possible to make a really good Transformers game with War for Cybertron. Unfortunately, they also proved that it’s really difficult to make a good movie tie-in game with their disappointing Dark of the Moon
game. Fortunately for us, now free of the constraints of any movie
tie-ins, they’ve also proved that it’s possible to make a sequel to a
good Transformers game that’s even better than the original. Fall of Cybertron
takes everything that worked well in the first game and made it better,
and then actually went in and fixed some of the stuff that didn’t. The
result is the best Transformers game of this generation.

Now I have to admit that early on, I was a little nervous. Despite
playing as Optimus Prime, the early sections of the game felt very
similar to War for Cybertron; fun, action-packed, but a bit
repetitive. True, you got to use the awesome fire power of the
city-sized Metroplex, but still, it was pretty much the same “run down
this corridor, blow stuff up, go down this corridor, blow more stuff up”
rhythm that began to wear on you in the last game. Fortunately, things
improve rather quickly when Cliff Jumper and Jazz come on the scene.
Suddenly there’s stealth missions where you need to use your cloaking
ability wisely to destroy quietly and fade away. Jazz has a nifty
grapple, making you feel like a giant, robotic version of Spider-Man.
These levels are also more visually diverse and interesting, delving
into Cybertron’s history while giving you something more to look at than
just the same old corridors (well, they’re still corridors, but they’re
different ones, which is an improvement).

Things open up even more when you switch over to the Decepticon side
of things. Here you take to the skies, and not just for some on-rails
shooting sequences that are there just to break-up the pace. These
levels are large, giving you the option of attacking foes from the air
or on the ground in robot form, or a mixture of the two. The strategy of
mixing and matching on these levels are some of the best moments of the
game, as they’re when I felt the most like a true Transformer, going
back and forth between modes quickly as I used both of them to their
greatest effect to take out the Autobots. I wish there were levels like
that in the game, and that somehow the same type of level could have
been constructed for the ground vehicles (you can do that as a ground
vehicle, but the levels don’t really feel especially made for that like
when you’re a flying Transformer).

The variety in gameplay depending on what kind of character you are
is a huge boon to this game, trumping the last game’s samey fell not
matter who you played as. Plus, the fact that there’s much more
diversity and variety in the level design, showing off some very
interesting parts of Cybertron that don’t feel like just more metallic
corridors is also very welcome. However, those aren’t the only
improvements. You can now also customize your weapons. There are spots
throughout every level where you can stop and upgrade weapons or swap
them out. You’ll also find new weapons generously spread through out
every level. This gives you greater freedom to play the game how you
want, using weapons you enjoy and are most comfortable with. While most
of the upgrades don’t necessarily feel like vast improvements, it’s
still satisfying to make the weapon you feel you’re most effective with
even more lethal.

On top of all of that, toss in an epic story filled with fun nods to
fans, but otherwise feels like Michael Bay was directing the action, and
you have a really fun Transformers game. Oh, and did I mention that you
also get to play a Grimlock? Yeah, Dinobots in the game, and it’s as
awesome as you imagined. Then there’s the multiplayer. You get your
standard conquest and deathmatch modes, which are fun but feel
insubstantial in light of all the other mega multiplayer games around
(BF3 and the coming Black Ops 2 and Halo 4). You do get to
customize your Transformer this time around, but it’s not super
expansive when it comes to choices, plus you have to level up a bunch to
unlock new pieces, so while it’s cool, it leaves a little to be
desired. There’s also Escalation mode where you can team up with some
friends to hold of waves of bots. Again, fun, but won’t quite hold your
attention for long lengths. I should also mention that there’s no co-op
for the campaign this time around, but that allows for the greater
variety and more specific level design that makes the campaign so much
better this time around, so I think that’s a fair trade-off.

There’s a lot to like in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron from
the great campaign with a greater variety of gameplay and level design
to the epic cinematic moments to playing as a Dinobot to the fun if
standard multiplayer and its cool but somewhat limited customization.
There are a few snafus, such as moments where it feels like the old,
repetitive first game, and vehicle controls that lack any weight or
precision to them, especially when in vehicle form.  Overall, though,
this is a far better Transformers game than War for Cybertron. Anyone who’s a fan of the Transformers or just big robots blowing stuff up should find plenty to enjoy in this one.

Score out of 7:

Graphics: 5 – Not a showstopper, but not a bad looking game. It has
lots of nice details, like little moving parts on the robots, impressive
explosions and lots of particle effects.

Sound: 6 – It’s always a thrill to hear Optimus’ voice. The voice
acting is fine, the music never overbearing and the weapons sound
powerful. Plus there are great sound effects for the Transformers’
transformations. Some of the catch phrases characters use can bet a bit
repetitive, and sometimes seem rather out of place in the context of
what’s actually happening.

Controls: 5 – The control layout is fine, although I did switch
things from having my melee attack being the right stick click to the B
button, which vastly improved things. However, controls in vehicle mode
are a bit loose and don’t have any weight to them.

Gameplay: 5 – Some may miss the co-op mode in the campaign, but
greater variety and more character specific levels makes up for that.
While the campaign is great, the multiplayer is merely average. Still
fun, but fairly insubstantial.

Story: 5 – A treat for any fan, and filled with lots of epic moments that feel like they belong in a summer blockbuster.

Content: 6 – Aside from the constant robotic violence, and a few slightly darker moments, this is a mostly family-friendly game.

Final: 5 – Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a game made
by fans for the fans. It puts everything we love about the Transformers
on-screen and allows us to play with them. The excellent campaign is
complimented by a fun if slight multiplyer, and the greater variety in
the action and characters easily makes this the best Transformers game
yet.