Since their humble beginning, the robots in disguise have built a franchise of comics, movies, TV shows, and many video game incarnations. Everything that’s come from the original Transformers series (Generation One, or “G1″) has been hit or miss, but in 2010 High Moon Studios delivered an old school win with Transformers: War for Cybertron, a re-telling of the Transformers’ Cybertronian origins and their epic battle against the Decepticons. Now the legend continues with the release of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and once again the team at High Moon Studios does not disappoint.
Mechanics: Score – 8
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a smooth running game with enough variety to please any 3rd person shooter enthusiast. With an upgradeable weapons system and plenty of different weapons to choose from, it’d be hard not to find at least one or two guns that really come natural. Each character has their own melee and special ability, but all these pale in comparison to the newcomer: Grimlock.
Grimlock is a whirling dervish of powerful swings with his Energon sword and devastating hits from his Energon shield. He is the largest change up in the game’s mechanic system, as he is the only Transformer that cannot transform at will. Instead he must build up a rage meter, and with all that carnage on his level, it’s not hard to do. Grimlock’s hack & slash style is a nice break from all the shooting, and even comes off as a bit cathartic when paired up with his level’s plot. It’s an aspect that makes this level a highlight for the whole game.
The game does include a semi-light cover system, which lets the player simply move around obstacles to get out of the line of fire. While there, each transformer can change his firing hand to shoot over any cover that he may be taking, which is nice, but unfortunately the enemies are much better at taking cover than you. The game is built with the same engine that Gears of War uses, but you won’t find any jump to cover ability or anything near as complex as what’s found there. However, this doesn’t impede any of the action built into the game.
Graphics: Score – 8
When it comes to graphics, Fall of Cyberton has a lot of ups and a down. Unfortunately, the downside is that too often the design of each character alongside the design of their environment can sometimes blend too well together, leaving the eye a little confused. This is only an issue when the screen is busy with the chaos of combat and moving through shadowed areas, but even a few times can still be a few times too many.
On the plus side, the designs do look amazing. Based off the designs from War for Cybertron, each additional character continues to feel organic in its robotic form and function. Just watching each character standing in place can be a treat as gears and parts whirl, bringing the robots to life. Even transforming looks fun. Every character is familiar to longtime fans as the elements that made them iconic still live in their base design. They are all unique and would look great as collectable toys.
The world of Cybertron is equally breathtaking in its design. The impact of war is visible on every level as the planet slowly dies with its depleted resources. Beneath all the wreckage are still the courtyards and towering landscapes that were once the prize of Cybertron. Doors and bridges are interactive with the Transformers, further showing that this is their home and that it’s older than any of them may realize.
Cut scenes are infrequent and do well to continue building the drama of the story. With their robotic faces, it’s difficult to reflect the amazing voice acting performances being given by the likes of Peter Cullen, Nolan North, and Steve Blum. The sheer size of the storytelling makes up for most of what is lost on the stoic faces of each robot.
Story: Score – 9
While Fall of Cybertron builds off the events from War for Cybertron, it’s not entirely needed to play WfC, but it does help. Being a fan of G1 or even the Michael Bay films establishes enough backstory to know that the Decepticons are the mortal enemies of the Autobots, and that Megatron has sworn to destroy them and their leader Optimus Prime.
In TF:FoC, we find the Autobots trying escape from their dying planet, but still in dire need of the Energon required to fuel their Arc. While on their quest Optimus and his crew begin to unravel the mysteries of Cybertron, while at the same time Megatron and his gang of treacherous evil doers continually try to stop the Autobots once and for all. Throughout the course of the story a new history of Cyberton is revealed, one written by High Moon and now sanctioned by Hasbro as canon. A reintroduction of the Dinobots is also established.
A great aspect that’s been carried over from the previous game is the element of playing on both sides of the war. This increases the conflict and drama, as players are playing against themselves and actively destroying everything that they were originally working for. Though this aspect hasn’t changed since the last game, it’s become the thing that sets this game apart from most others and what makes it fun. Now no one has to choose between playing the good guy or the bad guy.
Additional Features: Score – 6
Although this is the one aspect I have the least amount of experience with, it’s also the least integral part of the game. The bright and shiny parts of the game are all in the campaign mode, while the multi-player is added on to increase playability. The game’s additional features are as follows:
- Multi-Player (PvP & Escalation Mode) – This is your standard add-on for story based games these days. Although making customizable Autobots and Decepticons is a large attraction, after that’s done there isn’t much innovation left.
- Co-Op – As an option only available online, this is a feature I have no experience with, so I won’t say anything about it.
Final Score: 7.75
What I think transcends the final score is the fun of playing characters that I grew up with. True nostalgia may be subjective, but it’s an aspect that greatly increases the fun of playing High Moon’s Transformer series. It’s obvious that they’re fans of the franchise, with some of the Easter Eggs they’ve left in the game, including several quotes from the ’86 animated movie. High Moon has faithfully put in the time to make a story worth telling with the same characters that fans grew up loving. The look may be different, but the heart of The Matrix beats strong in this game.