Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

written by Stephen Hanley on 17.9.12 optimus_fall_of_cybertron

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the long awaited sequel to the 2010 third person shooter Transformers: War for Cybertron. Much alike its counterpart, Fall of Cybertron is developed by High Noon Studios and published by Activision along with being a third person shooter for the most part. Thankfully this series of games does not follow the Michael Bay series of film canon, but rather hearkens back to the days of the original transformers all the way from the 1st Generation right up to some of the latest incarnations.

Before getting into the meat and bones of what the game is like, it has to be said that this game is graphically beautiful. Everything from the look of the transformer you play as, to the scenery and destruction that ensues along the way looks absolutely amazing. The few cut scenes that are in the game also flow quite well into the action and make it seamless. The animations of the transformers also look rather good as you switch between vehicle mode and robot mode. High Noon has put a huge amount of effort into making it flow fluidly and as a result have boosted the overall presentation of the product.

The voice acting in this game is also simply bad-ass. It can only be described as a collective who’s who of video game voice actors from the likes of Nolan North who is more famously known as Nathan Drake from Uncharted or Desmond from Assassins Creed, to the original Megatron and Optimus Prime voice actors from the 1984 TV series.

The campaign focuses around, obviously, the imminent fall of Cybertron which is the home planet of the Transformers. The campaign is split up into various chapters, which along with allowing short burst of gameplay; provide a platform for a multitude of different mechanics to run wild while not overstaying their welcome. Each chapter with the exception of two later in the story allows you to play as a different transformer and as previously mentioned, allows for different mechanics to be used within the chapters. There is a little bit of everything from pure third person shooting and general platform sections, to a full stealth based mission with a complete cover mechanics specifically to enhance and compliment the stealth. It almost feels like a shame that some of the mechanics are used only once within the story as they play very well, but this also helps not overexposing them and as such, actually enhances the game overall.

As I frolicked through the campaign mode, I noticed that whilst playing the game on Normal difficulty I still found that any mistakes made usually resulted in death. Whilst this wasn’t a major point for me personally, it could lead to frustration amongst a younger age category of gamers that would be trying to enjoy the story and progress in a timely fashion. Speaking about progression of the story, the game’s pacing is not as fast as its predecessor War of Cybertron. Although this would be a major disappointment for 9/10 games, the slowed down pacing complements Fall of Cybertron instead of hindering it.

You may notice through the rest of the review that I don’t refer to the enemies as either Autobots or Decepticons, this is because throughout the campaign you get to play as both factions and as a result, you change who you’re fighting against. From this point forward, they will simply be known as the enemy so as to not give away any significant spoilers.

One of the little complaints I have about this game is the cover system, or rather the apparent lack of a true cover based system. Rather than utilizing the beautiful scenery with a traditional cover based system that we’ve seen in nearly any third person shooter on the market currently, High Noon decided to change things up a bit with allowing you to change which side your transformer holds their gun on. By utilizing this; and you must do this if you want to stay alive, you can instead hide behind tall pillars and use the switching to provide cover to shoot against your enemies. Whilst this works in theory, it comes off as flimsy and not as well polished as the rest of the game.

One feature this game seemingly has despite not being advertised is an abundance of moments that make you think “that is kick-ass”. All the way through the campaign, I couldn’t stop smirking like a joker in front of his entranced audience. One such moment is when you transform between robot and vehicle forms. Everything from the animation to the sounds that are made through the transformation are absolutely beautiful and most important of all, authentic. This feature plays a bigger part in multiplayer rather than the scripted parts of the campaign, which is a real shame as the changing between forms is actually one of the better points of the game.

Weapons are abundant throughout the campaign, allowing for customization on the highest level to suit upcoming situations and a unique variety of different ways to dispose of your enemies. Almost all weapons available in the Teletran 1 store are upgradable, with a variety of end upgrades which will only be available after buying all upgrades for that particular weapon. Any weapon that is used throughout the campaign is then useable again through equipping it from the Teletran 1 store, along with finding blueprints throughout the campaign which could unlock the weapons earlier than they’re meant to be available.

The campaign also packs some hidden collectables which of course will contribute to achievements. In Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, along with contributing to the inevitable Meta achievement, they also provide more background information on what is happening in the campaign. In a rare instance of providing an optional objective that also elaborates on a concurrent event throughout the story, High Noon provide a collectable that doesn’t feel like it was just put in the game for convenience.

Along with the main campaign, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron also consists of a multiplayer mode and a new mode called Escalation. In the multiplayer mode, users are given four match times to choose from along with various other options such as the ability to create private matches and match make with your friends. The multiplayer modes available are Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Capture the Flag and Head Hunter which is essentially Kill Confirmed from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Whilst all these modes provide a variety of gameplay and replay-ability, the best point of the multiplayer has to be the ability to create your own transformer.

 

The customization options are endless as you cycle through the four classes available and change them as you see fit, from armour and colours down to weapons and abilities, it gives us a truly unique experience as you create your own team of transformers. The depth of creativity that is awaiting here is endless as certain choices of armour will also change your vehicle form, allowing for some truly amazing creations. High Noon also ensure that your transformer will look exactly as you want it, allowing you to choose from a wide variety of two tone colours and allowing you to choose whether you want it shiny metallic á la Bumblebee to a rather non glossy finish like the 1st generation Transformers.

As with all multiplayer experiences in the shooter genre, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron introduces an XP based progression system which works rather well within itself. XP is earned through kills and completely objectives within the game modes along with obtaining kill streaks from defeating your opponent. High Noon actually decided with this game to remove actual kill streaks from the game as they feel it impacted on the game negatively and were unbalanced.

Escalation mode is essentially you and your friends fighting wave after wave of baddies as you band together to survive. Anyone who has played one of the more popular shooters such as Gears of War is familiar with modes such as this, and High Noon have done a great job of incorporating the idea into the Transformers Universe to make it feel organic and natural instead of forced.

Overall, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is an absolutely superb game that warrants attention from any fan of a shooter and especially Transformers fans. Despite its few niggling parts such as the cover system, the game play and overall enjoyment factor are more than enough to overcome these minor flaws in what would otherwise be a near perfect game. The stories depth and references to the Generation 1 version of the Transformers comics will also leave long time Transformer fans more than satisfied. The multiplayer modes also both feel organic and not forced into the game to be used as a selling point. High Noon studios have really excelled themselves with this series of games and hopefully will continue to make such stellar quality games in the future.

4-5 stars
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