Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Version reviewed: Xbox 360
Said new posts on this blog would be a little slow to come along. This is because games are a different kind of beast to the films I review over on The Film Dump. Plus I rarely finish any game I play. So I guess it goes to show that Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron might actually be quite good seeing as I actually have bothered to finish the thing. I suppose I should tell you what is actually good about it though. Click the link yo!
Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron follows on from where War For Cybertron left off a couple of years ago. Cybertron is dying, it’s Energon supplies run dry by the many years of conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons. Because of this Optimus Prime has ordered an evacuation of the planet and Megatron, being the spiteful sort he is, doesn’t want them to leave until he has killed every last Autobot. The game is set over the last series of events that lead up to the actual evacuation glimpsed at during the games opening tutorial stage. Three player co-op is gone this time but in it’s place is a more character focused solo storyline.
To be honest the dropping of co-op is a little bit of a surprise but it has allowed for the developers High Moon to be able to craft a story that doesn’t call for three giant robots to be present for each level. Instead we play through a few levels as various Autobot members, a few as Decepticons and eventually we get to play as one of the games marquee attractions, King Grimlock. Yes that’s right, the Dinobots are in and messing with cannon loving fanboys brains. See in the Generation 1 cartoon the Dinobots were created by Wheeljack on Earth in an attempt to bolster the Autobot ranks. Obviously they were based on Dinosaur fossils he had seen. Here… SPOILERS BY THE WAY…. The Dinobots have been created by Shockwave a experimental Transformers in an attempt to create the ultimate warrior team of blindly loyal machines, unthinking machines of destruction. He bases their designs on creatures living on the planet he intends to have Megatron evacuate the Decepticons to. It’s an alright attempt to work them into this Transformers Universe which a lot of fans seem to believe is actually tied to the G1 cartoon. It isn’t. When you do get to the Grimlock stage you’re treated to the longest level in the game which features a melee based mechanic as opposed to the rest of the cast’s shooter based violence.
Gunplay leans a lot closer to the sort of run and gun bullet barrages of old school shooters such as Contra and Metal Slug, except In a 3D space. There’s no cover system beyond standing behind walls and that’s fine and dandy with me. I don’t need to play any more games that set in worlds inexplicably populated by chest high walls. Each transformer has their own skills such as cloaking or grapple hooks to give their levels a little bit of variety but largely the game is a one note trek through arena after arena of nameless bots needing an arse kicking. There are disappointingly few boss battles over the course of the story which is a little surprising considering the games deft skill at creating huge set pieces. Some of the set pieces really are quite impressive such as when, as Optimus Prime, you can pass attack orders to Metroplex (A robot that dwarves all others and actually transforms into a city) as he stomps around the stage alongside you. If you played the Playstation 2 Transformers Armada game then you’ll remember that boss battles can be portrayed in quite a varied manner in a Transformers game so the lack of them here feels a little like a missed opportunity. That said what is here is sharply designed and can present a solid challenge. If any individual stage disappoints it would be the Bruticus stage. High Moon opted to make his stage a basic giant robots stomps on things stage and as such it’s very one note. It’s a fairly short stage though so it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.
Graphically the game is very good but not quite exceptional. There’s quite a bit of texture pop in and, as with the last game, the stages are nearly all metallic buildings coupled onto metallic wastelands. This was a large gripe with War For Cybertron so it’s a shame nothing much was done to combat this. I realise Cybertron is a metal planet but more could have been done to add some more visual flair to each stage. The planet is dying for instance so maybe a few stages crumbling due to rust could have been worked in. The game hurtles along at a steady framerate though and isn’t slowed down in the slightest by even the largest of set pieces.
Sound has a strong style to it reflecting the bullets and explosion soundscapes of the Michael Bay movies more than the pew pew fest of the cartoons. Apparently though one of the DLC packs will include Megatron in his G1 gun form and he will fire big purple lasers. I await the chance to try this out. Music isn’t much to remember but it’s suitable triumphant when it needs to be and is pulled back when a battle or scene requires a more quieter approach. And yes, The Touch is in the game’s credits. Two versions in fact.
Co-op may have gone the way of the Dinobot (hohoho) but Escalation and good old fashioned vs multiplayer modes are still here. Escalation is your typical horde mode that all games seem to require as default these days. The vs multiplayer takes a team based approach assigning you to either the Autobots or Decepticons for each round. It has your usual uninspired deathmatch and conquest style modes so variety isn’t much to shout home about. What is cool though is being able to customise your Transformers. There’s not a massive amount of parts to choose but there’s enough to allow for quite a variety of designs. Some unlock by earning in game credits through gameplay and a handful are unlocked by levelling your characters up to their max levels or through going all prestige mode and running them through what the game called Prime Mode. Doing this allows you to re-level your characters up and eventually unlock a few new heads.
As you’d expect though the ugly head of DLC appears in multiplayer in the form of downloadable body parts. There’s a few packs out already available giving you the chance to create Fall Of Cybertron versions of Wheeljack, Ultra Magnus, the Dinobots and a few others. Soon Insecticon DLC will be out. Worryingly there’s no sign of actual map packs which the game sorely needs. Now I’m not against DLC of this sort but it’s tiered in the way you’d expect DLC for a free to play game to be with individual body parts going for 80 Microsoft Space Bucks a piece and full packs of characters going for 800. This feels a little rude because 800 is a lot for only a few characters and paying 80MSP for arms and legs comes across as nickel and diming. Add to the fact that one pack was out day one with the Dinobot pack out 2 weeks later and a third pack coming soon and you’ve got what is clearly on disc content being sold as DLC. It’s rude and I’m not a fan.
Overall Fall Of Cybertron is at least as solid as the previous game was. It’s story mode is quite an improvement in terms of gameplay variety but the lack of co-op is missed. The final stage wouldn’t have been possible in co-op though, neither would the Bruticus stage either, and to be fair that last level is all kinds of epic. Don’t want to spoil it of course but imagine a huge battle played on many fronts where you swoop from one battle to the next as it escalates. It’s a stunning finale. Multiplayer is a hell of a lot of fun but it is woefully uninspired and tainted by free to play format paid for content. After all that though I do look forward to more and really hope the next game isn’t set on another metal planet. Word is High Moon Studios don’t want to take the Autobots straight to Earth. That’s fair enough but I really would like a game based on Arrival From Cybertron if for no reason other than being able to have a fight with Megatron on a damn as two annoying humans drown below me. I would make that fight last.