“Bah weep graaaagnah wheep ni ni bong?” Might as well be the universal language for “Go buy this game”.
Strap yourself down and listen as the 2O2P Headmasters bring you another tag team review of one of the year’s biggest releases. Transformers Fall of Cybertron is finally here! The much hyped sequel to the 2010 hit game War of Cybertron released on August 23rd on Xbox 360 , Playstation 3 and PC. This retro remake is sure to light our darkest hour. We will model this review after the game itself. Anotherdae takes on the solo campaign then taps into Escalation mode, the co-op section of the game. Tomorrow Tank picks up with more Escalation and Multiplayer mode.
Welcome back to Cybertron. Now get out!
If your previous experience with Transformers’ games is limited to movie tie-ins and iOS adventures then you are in for a treat. High Moon studios brings the beloved robots in disguise into a new era of quality gaming. Picking up the storyline that began in the War for Cybertron game, the Transformers homeworld is in ruins after decades of war. With great regret, the Autobots have no choice but to abandon their planet in search of new sources of energon, the energy source of all of their technology. Of course their lifelong rivals, the Decepticons, have another fate in store for our heros. Fall of Cybertron features gameplay from both sides of the great war and a laundry list of fan favorite Transformers characters. These renditions are of the characters long before they came to Earth. Their appearances are much more militant from the decades of war; and their alternate forms are not based on Earth vehicles but rather their original Cybertronian counterparts.
In the later seasons of the original cartoon we started seeing more stories taking place on Cybertron. No one has been able to capture the idea of a giant metallic city planet as well as High Moon studios. This is the Cybertron we only imagined, the only problem is most of it is on fire and the planet itself is dying. The detailed environments range from magnificent city scapes to run down service tunnels to some exciting transformations of the landscape itself. The extreme detail can be borderline over-stimulating. I suggest lowering the in-game brightness settings to get more contrast between characters and backgrounds. My favorite in-game scenes are the darker ones where you can really see the glowing parts and mechanics of the characters clearly, without the background being too distracting.
Great care was taken in interpreting the Autobot and Decepticon characters for the game. Not only do they look good but the transformation from robot form to their alternate mode is realistic. High Moon worked hand in hand with Hasbro toy manufacturers to ensure each could be built into a functioning Transformer toy. As mentioned before, these characters are not the earth bound 80’s cartoon variety but rather their predecessors from their time on Cybertron. Car forms are now futuristic styled racers while gun forms are now tanks-not a huge diversion from what you’d expect but necessary in forging an updated new storyline. These new looks are based on all the various incarnations of the Transformers over the years including the original cartoon, the animated movie, IDW comics and even the (controversial-with-the-old-school-fans) Hollywood movies. High Moon’s games tell the prelude story that ties directly into the Earth bound storyline in the Hub network’s Transformers Prime animated show.
Uhhhh! Me Grimlock love challenge!
What was once a Gears of War clone now has a movement all it's own. Just like it’s predecessor, Fall of Cybertron continues the 3rd person shooter gameplay. Giant robots don’t do things delicately. You’ll find yourself busting through walls, operating heavy machinery and, of course, blasting the enemy into scrap metal. There is very little in the way of stealth gameplay. It’s mostly shooting your way to the level goal. The single player campaign is very story driven and even more linear than the original. Choices were made in designing the game to drop co-op mode in favor of a rich, character driven story. While further replays may leave me desiring more areas for exploration, the goal of telling a modern and entertaining story is very successful. The only fall back? The linear game play doesn’t always allow you to use your alternate mode. Certain scenes make you feel like you’re just along for the ride. Luckily this isn’t often and the dramatic story hides it well.
Along with these more developed characters comes their unique specializations. Each individual character possesses skills the others do not. Some of the new additions: Optimus can call down air strikes to laser pointed areas, Cliffjumper has a built in cloak ability and Wheeljack has a grappling hook ability to climb and traverse quickly. Later characters include the all mighty Grimlock and his dinobot form and the vicious Insecticons. Additional gameplay upgrades include adding in some RPG elements. For example, talking to NPC characters and seeing how they react to your character is a nice touch. Upgradeable weapon customizations are done in various Teletran stations. All these little additions really add up to a fresh coat of wax on the shell of the game which makes it really shine.
Fanfare at it's finest
It’s clear from playing the game that the folks over at High Moon studios are real Transformers fans. If you need more proof scour High Moon's website for images of their cubicles. They are littered with amazing Transformers toy collections. Being close to the source material is very important when taking on a cult franchise like Transformers. Their knowledge of Transformers is evident. They incorporate elements from the far reaches of the Transformers lore to create something all new. Fall of Cybertron is officially licensed by Hasbro. Hasbro is building towards a new canon to update the Transformers history. While respecting the original canon, they are definitely blazing their own trail with these new games and the animated series. That respect can be seen in the first DLC available with the pre-order, the G1 Optimus Prime skin.
Gone but not forgotten
One thing missing from Fall of Cybertron is co-op play. War of Cybertron's first full campaign was co-op up to three players. Knee deep in Decepticon soldiers, I definitely found myself looking for my buddy in the new campaign. While missing co-op from the campaign, the welcome return of the Escalation mode does include it. Featuring characters from the solo campaign, weapon customization, game lobbies and wave-after-wave of the Decepticon horde for you and your buddies to fight off.
Hold your ground, we’ll be back tomorrow for the second half of this review and a final score for TFFoC.