More than meets the eye?
As a child, I was always envious of my younger cousins impressive collection of Transformers toys. We are talking about the first incarnation of the toys here, made out of metal and build to last, rather than the more recent plastic toys. It is perhaps because of this childhood envy that I have found myself firmly avoiding Transformers videogames, or it could be because they simply don’t have a great reputation. I could probably get to the bottom of it and rediscover my love for robots that transform into vehicles and such through a few years of therapy, but realistically, I am just not that bothered.
But just because I don’t have that love for Transformers, doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the obvious love and devotion that developers High Moon have poured into their latest game, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. As a non-fan, much of the embedded fan-service is lost on me, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know it is there. These guys are such obvious fans of the transforming robots that their passion simply shines through with little references here and there, and an impressive attention to detail. It goes without saying that those of you out there who love Hasbro’s toys will not be disappointed with Fall of Cybertron.
However, my passion is for videogames and, as I previously said, Transformers games do have a tendency to be disappointing. Thankfully, High Moon’s heads are not only filled with Transformers lore, but also include the mechanics to make a damn good game.
Now, word on the street is that War for Cybertron, which came out only a couple of years ago, was also a pretty good game and gave the franchise a glimmer of hope which was soon to be dashed with another horrible movie tie-in title last year. Fall of Cybertron is set as a sequel to War for Cybertron and, thankfully, there are no movies involved.
The game is based on the Transformers home world of Cybertron, in it’s very last days. The two factions of transforming robots, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, are both making an effort to flee the war-ravaged planet and players get to involve themselves in this story from both sides of the fence.
With many videogames, the bond that is created between the player and their on-screen character is all important to encouraging the player to come back for more. In Fall of Cybertron however, the emphasis is more on playing out an epic story and as such the player will find themselves changing between characters from both of the factions across the 11 varied levels.
Each of the different characters that the player gets to control in the campaign have different special powers, or transform into different things, and these differences play a strong role in how the levels are laid out. At its most basic, the game is an over-the-shoulder, third-person shooter, and that pretty much doesn’t change throughout. But the powers and transformations guide the player through the level they are in. For example, Optimus Prime has the ability to summon rocket strikes, which will play an important role, or Jazz has a grappling hook, which means plenty of grappling to different areas in these areas. Cliffjumper has the ability to turn invisible in robot form, introducing a stealth component, and can transform into a small hover car, ideal for ventilation shafts. You get the idea…
The result is a game that keeps on changing as it is played, denying the player any opportunity to get bored. It works incredibly well and if I had to level any criticism, it would be that the game just doesn’t last long enough. Coming in at around 8 hours is a bit on the short side, and there really isn’t much to convince the average player to go back and play through again.
Visually, Fall of Cybertron is a bit of a mixed bag. There is plenty of variety here, between the different levels, and everything looks nice and polished. But I found that during some of the heavier fight sequences, it could be difficult to distinguish between the enemies and the scenery. The audio is top notch with some stellar voice work and little bits of conversation caught here and there adding to the overall atmosphere.
The somewhat disappointing length of the game has been countered, to some degree, by the multiplayer offerings. The Escalation mode provides some co-op action in the form of a Gears of War style Horde mode which sees up to four players trying desperately to survive enemies across several different maps.
And of course there is the full-on competitive multiplayer mode which not only provides a selection of different modes and maps to play on, but also allows the player to heavily customise their Transformer as they earn experience. The competitive multiplayer is not really anything new, but the simple ability to transform on the battlefield is incredibly satisfying and very, very cool.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is quite possibly the best Transformers game ever made. But beyond that, it is also a very solid third-person shooter that is incredibly varied and entertaining. Although High Moon are obviously fans of Transformers, they have managed to create a game that will appeal to fans of both the giant transforming robots and shooters in general.