- Format: 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: High Moon Studio
- Players: 1 (offline), 2-12 (online)
- Site: http://www.transformersgame.com/
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the follow up game to the surprising hit Transformers: War for Cybertron released a couple of years ago (which we also enjoyed). Though it borrowed much from other third person shooters of the time (Gears of War in particular) its pleasant mix of retro homage and nods to recent cartoons and movies appealed to a wide audience and age range. Can this new title kindle the same positive response?
Set a non-specific number of years after the outbreak of the war between Autobots and Decepticons, Fall of Cybertron centres around the closing moments of said war as the last of the Autobots led by Optimus Prime prepare to flee their dying planet. They’ve lost the war and the opening tutorial shows their attempt to flee being impeded by their enemies, before flashing back in time a little to show how events led to that point across thirteen varied chapters playing as both sides.
The biggest change in terms of the main campaign this time around is that there is no drop-in/drop-out co-operative mode for up to three players. It comes across like this was perhaps a purposeful decision meant to allow for a more focused story designed around a single person but, in practise (bar only one or two small sections), there is little in the game that doesn’t feel like it would have been a better experience if you could have at least one other player there with you.
Listening to criticisms made of the previous game, it’s obvious that High Moon has tried to make the planet seem more alive and varied. You’ll visit quite a few different locations (though there is still a familiar feel between them all despite the colour palette change) and switch it up between characters who fly, drive or have unique abilities like Jazz’s tether for hooking your way through open areas. The biggest selling point they have focused on this time though is the addition of the Dinobots. Who doesn’t want to stomp around as a huge robot T-Rex? They even made it plausible within the confines of the story how they came to be.
The overall tone of the story is a bit more gritty and dark than the previous game, though it is difficult to sympathise with a race of transforming machines even if they are being mercilessly executed. That said, the story is still entertaining enough and is a decent length; but the overall appeal will still very much depend on how familiar you are with, and enjoy, the source material.
As in War for Cybertron, the game is littered with references to the 80s cartoon, the more recent movies, comics and the newest iterations of the cartoon as well. Fans of all ages will simply love noticing the carefully place parodies or nods and references made to all these different sources, and it strongly reconfirms that High Moon is a group of individuals who know and understand the Transformer universe very, very well.
Once again it is Peter Cullen that leads an overall decent cast lending their voices to the characters. With the years of experience under his belt it is to be expected that he knows what he’s doing, but it’s still impressive to hear him manage to make Prime sound as good as he does even now. Music is a little less noticeable than the previous game but still nice enough.
On a technical side the only things of note we would bring up is that we suffered one crash during a playthrough of the main story, and stages beginning off the tail-end of a cutscene would often have visible texture loading. There were a couple of instances where there was so much happening at once that the frame rate would visible suffer and stutter also.
A Horde style mode returns and is the sole form of co-op available for up to four people. The multiplayer also returns and a majority of changes from the previous game are all bad. The four selectable classes are far less diverse, with only one ability quick slot (instead of two) and two powers to chose from (instead of four). Rather than provide class specific kill-streak rewards, powerful usable items are now just scattered around the stages too. This promotes rewarding the camping of these items (in particular one which regenerates health far too well) and fails to reward players that are doing well naturally.
We mentioned previously that the Dinobots were clearly the focus of this game. High Moon, perhaps working off information gained directly from Hasbro, knew that everyone wanted those characters. You get to play as one in the campaign but that’s it. What? You want to use them in the multiplayer? Well then, it’s time to buy some on-disc DLC. It comes across as desperate to use such a horrible tactic and is genuinely infuriating that they would go this way. The only thing more infuriating is playing the multiplayer after the Dinobot skin pack was ‘released’ and seeing 90% of people online using them.
Money-grabbing disc based DLC aside, Fall of Cybertron is a good game. To a fan of Transformers it would be an amazing game and it’s clearly who it was made for. Those who aren’t fans my still find something here since it’s not every third person shooter available that also lets you change into a vehicle at will or command a giant robot the size of a city.