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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Sep 12, 2012

Review – Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Xbox 360)

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Product Information

MSRP: $59.99

Developer: High Moon Studios

Publisher: Activision

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Genre: Action/Adventure/Shooter

I think that if you were a kid growing up with the animated Transformers series, there was always some sort of mystical wish lying inside your mind that had you riding inside of Optimus’ cab while he went about the roadways policing his duty. Optimus Prime was always, and still is, a symbol of strength, hope, and determination not only as a leader but as a stalwart friend. When War for Cybertron released from High Moon Studios back in 2010 I was blown away with the gameplay and how I, as a die-hard Transformers fan, was able to control Optimus and the Autobots as they fought vigorously for the safety of their home world. As the game ended I was left wanting more, and little did I know that High Moon was set to deliver. The developer has released a sequel to the game that, while it doesn’t follow the same beat-em-and-shoot-em formula that worked so well with War for Cybertron, comes out on top as a very solid title.

Visuals and Storyline

When it comes to the presentation of the game, Fall of Cybertron cakewalks its predecessor across the board. The new story arc is magnificent and grips you from the get-go. The storyline in Fall of Cybertron follows the ongoing war between the Autobots and Decepticons as their home world of Cybertron is falling apart. The game begins on the Ark, a large spacecraft that the Autobots are using to flee Cybertron. The Decepticons attack the Ark while in space flight, prompting Optimus to tackle Megatron directly. Bumblebee is left to fend off attackers on the bridge, though Optimus soon calls for his aid. As he navigates through the ship (that while falling apart looks amazing) he has to repel more invaders. When Bumblebee finally reaches Optimus he arrives in time to see Megatron prepare to land the final blow. Being the bot that he is, Bumblebee jumps ahead and takes the hit, prompting the game to flashback to six days earlier. From then on you play through the game leading up to that point.

Optimus and the Autobots are working to defend the Ark as it’s docked and being prepared for takeoff. The Decepticons have broken through Grimlock’s post, though when called he’s nowhere to be found. Jazz and Cliffjumper are sent after him while Optimus runs to try and get the Ark up and running.

On the Decepticon side of things, Soundwave is charged with finding a more powerful chassis for Megatron after some events have taken place in the Autobots campaign. He thwarts Starscream and releases the Combaticons to wreak havoc on the planet.

The storyline isn’t choppy this time around and becomes much easier to follow. If one word could describe how the game pans out I’d choose epic, simply because of the scale and emotional ties that take place. Fall of Cybertron really stepped it up with dialogue and locations that really suited its aggressive nature.

When it comes to visuals, the game is simply brilliant in all but one area which I’ll touch on later. The scenery is vibrant for a dying planet, and each of the game’s chapters show off a different part of the planet. This helps put things on a much grander scale. There’s a lot of variety that makes you want to explore each section and really take in the scenery. There’s always something hidden away, and while you’re being swarmed by Decepticons in a ruined temple there’s plenty of time to stop and admire the details that went into building it.

Gameplay

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is extremely fun to play. Each of the levels is objective-based and the characters you get to play are all unique with their own abilities. Where War for Cybertron had the player choosing their character before the level, Fall sets players up with specific characters for each level. This is great because characters get the chance to shine in their own light and become key parts of the story. The only drawback to this is that where War’s levels were a bit more open-ended, Fall’s seem to be more scripted and linear. This isn’t exactly a problem, though, as the levels are all still a ton of fun.

No matter who you’re playing you can customize loadouts and switch between bot and vehicle form whenever, and there’s plenty of room for that. The game employs an in-game store where you can purchase upgrades, items, and new weapons using the currency you obtain for downing opposing bots. The upgrades you can purchase will increase weapon abilities or unlock permanent abilities for your character.

The game still functions as a third-person action/shooter, but this time around there’s more adventure to be had. More minibosses are introduced and there’s more incentive to explore the planet. Players can find audiologs, weapon blueprints, and Energon shards if they’re feeling particularly adventurous. These add a lot of background to the game and help flesh it out as more than meets the eye. (Get it?!)

The new character-driven levels help press along the game’s overall narrative in a way that makes you want to continue pressing on. Plenty of our favorite bots from the days of old make a cameo appearance and help set up events. One of these characters is Grimlock, and while he can be considered a cameo character there’s no reason to fret. You can play as this giant menace for a good hour and a half of the game, which is an adventure in and of itself.

Since you are playing as set characters they each have a special ability that comes in handy for their levels. You’ll be grappling away as Jazz, calling upon Metroplex as Optimus, and cloaking yourself as Cliffjumper. With each character you really feel like you’re a part of something bigger and you’re needed in the fight.

Unfortunately there isn’t any campaign co-op in Fall of Cybertron. It’s understandable when you look at it from the story’s perspective, but I still think it would have been fun considering on how some of these levels have two characters splitting up. Some players who want to run back through the game with friends may see this as a reason not to get the game, but they’d be disappointing themselves.

Multiplayer

Fall of Cybertron may have cut out co-op but it brings back the multiplayer mode that it does best – Escalation. This mode is somewhat like a Horde mode where players will fight increasing waves of enemies through which they’ll need to survive. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into Escalation and you’ll need to work together as a team to come out on top. Players will need to gather resources to unlock weapons and new upgrades. It’s definitely the way team-based multiplayer should be played.

If strategy isn’t really your thing you can hop on team deathmatch. There’s also capture the flag, head hunter, and conquest as well if you want to turn it up a notch. There’s enough of a Transformers twist on gameplay formats, though the core mechanics of each gameplay type remain the same enough so that anyone who has had a taste of them can run them smoothly.

The character creation in Fall of Cybertron has definitely been ramped up, to a certain point. You can customize the loadout of each of the available classes to your liking and make things personal. The only real hiccup in the game I found was here. Though the game’s visuals are enough to stun any fan, the character creation could have used a bit more detail. The visuals when choosing body parts and different pieces make the characters look a bit like generic Go-Bots than anything else. I’d like to see a bit more attention to detail here, but it’s a pet peeve.

Conclusion

Though the character creation visuals are lacking a bit and co-op has been shut down, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron remains an amazing and fun game. It’s definitely a win when it comes to a sequel, and I believe it’s the game a lot of Transformers fans have been waiting for. It’s worth the time and effort you’ll spend in the campaign, and the multiplayer is strong enough to keep the game living on even after its initial boon is over with.

The Good

  • amazing visuals
  • great story and interesting characters
  • characters feel needed and unique
  • hours of gameplay
  • multiplayer breaks up campaign tension and makes up for lost co-op
  • fans of the Transformers will enjoy cameo characters

The Bad

  • co-op is gone
  • more detail in character creation visuals would be appreciated
  • gameplay can be difficult

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