Genre: Action Developer: Publisher: Classification: M Release Date: 24th Aug 2012 Platforms:
Average of 2 Ratings
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Initially the Transformers franchise struggled to find solid ground as developers got a little too caught up with injecting the human component into the Autobot versus Decepticon battle royal. Moving away from Earth and focusing on gigantic metal monstrosities shooting and punchersizing each other in the face as their home planet of Cyberton swung in the balance proved to be the winning equation. High Moon Studios’ last outing Transformers: War for Cybertron was by far the most successful release for the property.
So here we are two years down the track and things have rapidly deteriorated for our fine metal friends. Their beloved Cybertron has buckled under the enormous pressure of the monumental struggle and can no longer support robotic life. As the war rages both leaders become more and more desperate for entirely different reasons. Megatron seeks to eradicate the Autobots in one single strike and eradicate them from the face of the planet. Optimus Prime wishes to take to the stars, on an exodus, and find those in his care a new home. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron details the final few days of Cybertron illustrating pivotal playable moments in this last ditched battle for survival.
Before I even get into the gameplay I’ve got to get this out. As a child of the eighties I was unbelievably happy with the return to classic Transformers values, namely the overall robotic look of the mainstays and voicing duties. Though the vehicle forms may have the whole futuristic vibe going, each main character looks just like their 1980s Hasbro counterpart. Prime looks exactly like Prime, Soundwave still has that massive metal grill, Bumblebee still has horns and Starscream… well, Starscream’s still a ****. Each character is instantly recognisable and it’s great to see the classic versions still hold weight.
Moving beyond the aesthetic the granddaddies of all things energon, Peter Cullen and Fred Tatasciore, return to voice Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively and they’ve never sounded better. New to the franchise is the inclusion of the Dinobots, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron welcomes back Gregg Berger - the original voice of Grimlock - after a twenty-five year hiatus. Fans of the 1986 classic The Transformers: The Movie will be pleased to know that a remix of Stan Bush’s ode to ****-rock The Touch has been included during the closing credits and it almost makes it worth playing through the campaign for that alone!
One of the first things you’ll notice once you roll out is the immense sense of scope. This is no mere skirmish or week-to-week episodic battle. This is a desperate fight for existence itself. Downed soldiers litter the battlefield, their corpses a mess of wires and charred metal. Things are not looking bright for the Autobots. As Optimus Prime rallies his troops to power up their vessel, The Ark, and begin the exodus several key players emerge with you taking direct control of a host of Autobot stalwarts.
The chapters as Optimus Prime played out as your standard ‘let’s get accustomed to the game’ type fare. It set the tone, illustrated how to use normal and heavy weaponry, the most opportune moments to change into vehicle form and how to chop and change effortlessly in the larger scaled assaults. There were many cinematic ‘wow’ moments when Prime took change of insanely powerful cannons or direct linked to other Autobots who shall remain nameless that dwarfed the hundreds of cannon fodder Decepticons slayed up until that point. The pacing was spot on and when it all got a little too much there’d be a character change for a necessary breather.
Playing as Cliffjumper gave you a tactical cloak for infiltration missions, Jazz uses an energy whip to swing around like your friendly neighbourhood web-head and Grimlock… well, Grimlock is just a force of nature. Rather than change to his Dinobot form at will he has a rage meter that fills up. He uses a sword and shield combo (as opposed to the blasters of his allies) and once he lays enough of the smack down he can trigger the transformation for a limited amount of time. He just soaks up damage and decimates the competition. It really was something to behold.
The arsenal at your disposal is as strong as you’d care to make it. All characters (barring Grimlock) share the same upgradable weapons and it’s in your best interests to focus on a few favourites and max them out. You have access to permanent perks for the duration of the campaign as well as limited buffs for weapon damage, health boosts, increased shields and even combat drones to distract your enemies. I spent most of my time making a single weapon as bad-arse as possible and then worked on the maxing out the perks as a little exploration would often yield hidden schematics or armoury caches filled with the aforementioned limited buffs, so there was no need to spend my hard earned cash.
The single-player campaign felt just right with solid length, varied gameplay and satisfying combat, as well as giving each iconic character their moment in the sun to shine, though I think that High moon really let an opportunity slide by not adding a cover mechanic. The gameplay just so naturally lends itself to it and I hope it’s something the developer considers in any forthcoming sequels.
Once you’ve knocked out the single player campaign Transformers: Fall of Cybertron offers a robust multiplayer component to keep you pushing the pedal to the metal or flying on a wing and a prayer. The four-player co-operative horde mode, Escalation, returns as you and three buds take on increasingly more difficult wave after wave of enemies and remains a huge amount of fun especially with the tactic changing vehicle transformations.
If that wasn’t enough to sate that energon cube hunger, the addition of competitive multiplayer with an outrageous number of customisable options is another big tick in the plus column. There are four distinct character classes of various sizes and strengths that utilise all the weaponry and abilities you sampled during the campaign so you can tailor your Autobot or Decepticon to your desired specifications. Then you can really pimp them out with a spectacular array of body parts and a seriously deep colour palate to make it YOUR distinct robot.
The game modes don’t really shake things up with the usual Deathmatchy and Capture the Flaggy type options but it feels completely different to any regular third-person shooter once you transform. Vehicle forms (for the most part) are more heavily armoured and deal more damage (much like in the single player) and allow you to navigate the battlefield much quicker on the ground or rain death from above in the air. This is a solid addition to the core campaign and should make for an interesting staple in subsequent iterations.
There were a few momentary hiccups along the way that deserve mention. Occasionally after transformation the character model would take several seconds to render, there were moments where the frame-rate chugged along when the **** was hitting the fan and sporadic hit recognition inconsistencies. Some of the cut scenes were a little more jagged and considering how sweet the game looks in general and the impressive standard of the high-res CG, it stood out all the more for it. It was a little disappointing the same quality control didn’t go through across the board.
All in all Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a fitting sequel and takes several important strides forward for the franchise. The strengthening of the multiplayer adds some much needed replayability, the sense of scope and scale is impressive and allowing you to see the climactic battle through the eyes of a smorgasbord of Autobots and Decepticons, each with wildly differing play styles was a definite step in the right direction. It looks like High Moon Studios certainly has “The Touch” when it comes to this franchise.