Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review - Autobots, Roll Out!

Score: 8.75 / 10
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Xbox 360 - PS3 - PC
Developer: High Moon Studios
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: August 21st, 2012

  • Shuffle of characters keeps campaign compelling
  • Enjoyable competitive and cooperative multiplayer
  • Arsenal of weaponry, each as satisfying as the last
  • Character customization in multiplayer allows you to craft a unique transformer

  • Multiplayer is peer to peer, with issues of lag and host migration
  • Enemy AI is a bit dull and predictable

An explosive opening greets me as Decepticons rain into the Autobot ship. Allies charge into battle, some falling short of their intended targets as another explosion rocks the ship. A window is shattered, sucking the rooms' inhabitants out into space as I clutch to the ship until the room is contained. As a gripping soundtrack backs the intensity of the moment you stop and are playing a Transformers game. 

Despite playing as Optimus you are not invincible...but you feel like it

A few chapters in and the impact rarely lessens. You start the game in the role of Bumblebee, but in the next chapter you are put in control of Optimus Prime. Soon you are able to play in a multitude of roles, both Autobot and Decepticon. The characters all feel the same in respects to the run and gun combat with the exception of their special abilities and transformations. One chapter will have you charging in as Grimlock with huge sweeping strikes and stomps, another will put you behind Starscream as you jet across the map to an objective, and the other will have you assuming the role of Cliffjumper utilizing stealth to gain the upper hand. The consistent shuffle of special abilities and varying transformations will have you fighting using a multitude of tactics from heavy hitters to fast movers.

The game will be enjoyable to those who are fairly familiar with the license, but is a love letter to devoted fans of the cartoons. There does not need to be a fleshed out plot for a Transformers game, as the eternal struggle between Autobots and Decepticons is as acceptable as night and day. Still, the game follows the two factions as they struggle for control of resources, ultimately hoping to escape Cyberton for the mysterious portal in the sky. The energetic cast of characters is backed by the return of most of the original voice actors, matching the personalities fans have come to recognize. With wonderfully detailed textures and lighting, Fall of Cybertron does not skimp on aesthetic appeal.

Despite being able to label it as a "third person cover shooter" the charging close range enemies and barrage of enemy fire turn the game into a mobile shooting gallery. Your shield recharges at a steady enough rate to encourage you to get back into the action, but prevents you from charging in guns blazing. In contrast to what you may think, you will not be posted up against a wall very long in this game. It is still fun, but it questions the purpose of adding a sniper rifle to your arsenal (at least you can still move and shoot with it). Enemy variety ranges from beefier commandos to agile snipers, but tend to repeat themselves around the fifth chapter or so. It is a game that hits the ground running, only occasionally slowing to a light jog.

Wait, which laser is mine...

There is a plethora of weaponry at your disposal via a store at intermediate checkpoints. Credits earned during the game through hidden chests and dropped off of enemies can be spent on upgrading and purchasing new weaponry or perks. Blueprints found can unlock new weapons to purchase, and can yield such variety as tesla coils, thermal rockets, and long range sniper rifles. The variety carries over to each character, and can let you keep your favorite weapon combinations across every role. As an added touch a community rating system is in place on each weapon, letting you know the fan favorite to use. The arsenals are fun to play around with, but once you are completely upgraded the game can become a lot less challenging.

When the single player campaign has run its course there is also a cooperative Escalation Mode to share the action with some friends. A group of four players must hold off increasingly difficult waves of enemies, attaining cash and unlocking new areas to stem the tide. Every player has a bonus ability, be it healing or dropping a shield to refill ammunition, and it takes a team that works together to be truly successful. The mode can be quite enjoyable with three other team-oriented buddies, and the latter waves take true teamwork to overcome. While there are a handful of maps to participate in, the mode can soon grow stale in the predictable nature of the swarm.

Seems you have a bug problem
Surprisingly enough, the competitive multiplayer for the game warrants just as much attention as the single player. You are able to choose one of four classes and face off in varying modes like that of deathmatch or capture the flag. With a level progression system you can then customize your class of choice with a preset loadout and perks to boost your style of approach, ranging from the close quarters stealth bot or long ranged healer. The mode is fleshed out enough to appeal to all crowds, and the character alterations will allow you to craft a Transformer to your liking. It is a surprisingly robust amount of content to play around with, and the weapon upgrade system carried over from the campaign can provide incentive to reward your hard work.

Transformers does not necessarily do anything new, but it does provide the game that fans have been hoping for. The problems in War for Cybertron have been more than addressed, and the campaign does due justice with a satisfying final chapter (even if the final encounter feels a bit cut and dry). There is a mode for everyone in this title, and the character creator for multiplayer adds that level of customization to keep you coming back for more. Needless to say, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is more than meets the eye....sorry couldn't resist.

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