Transformers: Fall of Cybertron might be the best example of a licence used well. Rivalled only by Rocksteady’s recent Batman outings, Fall of Cybertron wears its name with pride and honor. Combining a variety of game types, tight controls and huge scale, High Moon Studios have delivered yet another fantastic Transformers adventure, that is sure to please the die hard fans. This third person shooter is cinematic, faithful to its source material, and one of the most diverse run and guns you’ll play all year
For any Transformers expert, or people lucky enough to grow up during the 80s, the game’s incredible opening level will strike a chord with you. Taking scenes straight from the G1 series, this introduction recreates the fiery war between Autobot and Decepticon on Cybertron. Optimus Prime and his fellow Autobots have plans to leave their home planet using a ship known as “the Ark”, while Megatron and his decepticons have their eyes on the prize, as well. Not going to let either side hop planets easily, the game follows the constant struggle between the two factions, as each tries to foil the plans of the other. The story makes it clear who to root for, yet you can’t help but respect the Decepticons in Fall of Cybertron. They’re strong characters with powerful conviction, and had they not been evil in their methods, you get the feeling they’d be a great asset to the Autobots.
Apart from setting the pace for the game’s story, these opening levels showcase a presentation that is nothing short of awesome. The explosive special effects, the destructible environments, and the dynamic lighting all depict war in a chaotic and meaningful way. This high production value is not limited to the introduction, and this helps solidify Fall of Cybertron as a shooter to be noticed in 2012. The game really captures the emotion of war in these early stages, and gives you a slightly deeper relationship with its cast and their companions.
As soon as you gain control, you’ll be thrusted into the boots of Bumblebee, and it’s here that you’ll get accustomed to the game’s tight and intuitive control scheme. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a third person, run and gun shooter—at least most of the time—and thanks to a constantly present crosshair, it’s easy to blast through enemies accurately at a break neck speed. You won’t find yourself sticking to cover like a magnet here, and this puts a larger emphasis on offense and clever use of your abilities—a change from the usual ducking and popping. You’re able to take a breather and recover health behind walls and the like, but the majority of obstacles are destructible and cover is not something to be relied upon. This forces you to try some more… elaborate techniques, and thankfully, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has everything you need.
If you’re unfamiliar with Transformers, then the clue is in the title. Your characters have the ability to transform into a number of mechanical powerhouses; cars, jets, helicopters, tanks and potentially even something Jurassic. These transformations are seamless and easy to pull off. With a simple click of the left stick (these controls can be adjusted) your character will take on his second form—giving you time to make an escape, reach higher ground, or even provide extra offensive options. Constantly switching between these forms isn’t only important from a strategic point of view, but it also keeps battles dynamic and is something unique to Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
You’ll get to grips with a good amount of these transformations thanks to the game’s interesting campaign layout. There are thirteen chapters in all, and each chapter has you taking on the role of a new character—be them Autobot or Decepticon. Rather than picking a separate campaign, you’ll play through the singleplayer witnessing both sides of the story as it organically progresses. This system keeps gameplay fresh and novel, but also demonstrates a unique storytelling technique for the game. However, the constant switch between characters doesn’t give strong development on either of them. For the very knowledgeable, this won’t be a problem; they’ll catch all the neat nods to the G1 series and the 1986 animated film. But for people wanting more of a focused and rich narrative, Fall of Cybertron doesn’t quite fit the bill. The final stages go a long way to making up for this however, as everything comes together in a huge climax that will satisfy anyone eager to see how Transformers, as we know it, came to be.
This type of story progression also allows for a wide variety of gameplay styles, and it’s surprising how High Moon Studios were able to tie these elements into the game whilst keeping everything familiar. When you’re not using Optimus Prime to command airstrikes from the gigantic Metroplex, you’ll be using Cliffjumper’s cloaking ability to silently eliminate your enemies one by one. But the diversity doesn’t end there; every character has their own transformation and ability to take advantage of, making chapters feel fresh and inviting, regardless of the stage. These special abilities are activated at the push of a button, and the game’s upgrade system allows you to improve the rate at which you can use them. With such a wide array of options at your disposal, you can be forgiven for assuming the game loses focus in its action – but this is not true. In fact, the change of pace is often welcomed. Some of the later stages completely change up the experience – though it’s probably best you experience that for yourself.
As cool as these abilities are, the game doesn’t rely on them as its only means for combat. Fall of Cybertron delivers solid gunplay in its own right, offering a well-stocked artillery for all your characters. The usual weaponry can be found here; assault rifles, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and more, all of which can be improved upon using the game’s simple upgrade system. As you take down enemies, you collect shards that can be spent on enhancements via stores placed throughout the campaign. You can buy permanent, passive upgrades to your characters, or buy consumable items such as Gravity Bomb Grenades and protective shields. The weapon and character improvements transfer from chapter to chapter, maintaining a good level of progression no matter the Transformer. It’s unlikely that you’ll upgrade everything on your first playthrough, providing decent incentive to explore other tactics and more creative weaponry on a second outing.
With such an abundance of variety at your finger tips, it’s a shame the game’s enemies don’t share the same pleasure. Most of the opponents you face will be standard, and there are no in-depth boss fights to speak of. We wish there was a bit more diversity present in the enemy types, rewarding us for our creative efforts when combining the various methods and tools available. And while Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is home to a few fleeting set piece moments, the potential is there to expand upon what’s been done. The lore, the visuals and the gameplay are all in attendance, but the bar is set high for third person shooters in this day and age, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron’s action sequences don’t quite meet the standard of the big budget, first-party blockbusters.
After finishing a singleplayer campaign that spans roughly eight hours, you might get hungry for more. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron offers a decent multiplayer component, and fans who are itching to create their own Transformer might find a home here—just don’t expect to stay long. While the multiplayer offers a good amount of unlockable content in the form of extra gear, decorations and parts for your Transformer, the core experience just isn’t strong enough for pro-longed multiplayer sessions.
Upon creating your very own Transformer, you’ll notice the four slots available to you. These represent the four playable classes – a Scientist, Infiltrator, Destroyer and a Titan. Each class has their own ability and transformation that can be used in online play, and a well balanced team can be key to success. Game modes include the standard Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, with the other two game types consisting of Conquest and Head Hunter. Conquest’s King of the Hill-style objectives help center the action, while Head Hunter has players collecting orbs from downed enemy Transformers, and taking them back to constantly shifting locations. The experience you’ll find across all modes is somewhat chaotic, and the speed at which Transformations and firefights take place is certainly exhilarating. However, the lack of depth in the multiplayer component leaves it best suited to brief spurts of wild action, and is perhaps not something players will get attached to for very long.
If you fancy yourself more of a co-operative Transformer lover, then Fall of Cybertron contains its own survival mode, dubbed – “Escalation”. You and up to three other players take on waves of enemies, picking your favorite Transformer from the campaign as you fight to stay alive. The frantic pace and strong emphasis on teamwork gives Escalation the leg up over its competitive brother. Each time an enemy falls, your team gains more cash to spend on upgrades, health, friendly gunships and more. With a total of fifteen waves on each of the four maps, Escalation will keep you busy.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron does the Transformers name justice. High Moon Studios have once again excelled in their interpretation of the characters, their conflicts and the action that takes place because of them. A well presented campaign that includes a consistent change of pace, as well as strong action sequences, makes Fall of Cybertron’s singleplayer fresh and exciting. There’s more potential to be unlocked here, and though the Hollywood element that the game tries to sell us isn’t quite at the level that it could be, it still captures everything a Transformer fan desires.