The Transformers’ license has been hit hard by too many movies and a slew of video-game titles that left franchise fans with a metallic taste in the mouth—one of those zinc-tablet, ‘did I just chew on aluminum?’ tastes that certainly is not pleasant.
From the moment gamers step into the armor of Bumblebee, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron sets itself apart. This is an intelligent single-player game and enjoyable multiplayer experience that does justice to the license. At first blush, the game may sound a bit on the linear side because players cannot pick a character and just zerg the campaign levels. Every level in the game has a predetermined character to play, and gamers need to rely on the skills of that character—in both ranged and melee attacks, as well as transformed for mobility—to overcome the obstacles in order to accomplish the specific goals of each level.
While that may sound limiting, it is actually well done. Credit High Moon Studios for a solid vision and focus for the game, and credit Activision for giving the studio the leeway to create a Transformers game that disdains gimmicks and delivers action worthy of the franchise name.
The game (available on the 360, PC and PS3) is broken down into a couple of modes of play. There is the prerequisite multiplayer battles (five game modes—Escalation, Team Deathmatch, Conquest Capture the Flag and Headhunter) and the campaign mode. Escalation mode requires up to four players trying to fend off 15 waves of swarming enemy bots. This will get the adrenaline pumping.
Headhunter is also a team game wherein players kill other players, collect the spark that is dropped and then hurry it back to the node to score the points. For the multiplayer side of the game, players can create an Autobot or Decepticon, customize the loadout, armor and personality, choose from one of four classes (Infiltrator—fast, hit-and-run bots, Destroyer—heavy armor, can take a beating while supporting other classes, Titan—built for destruction, they are big and powerful, Scientist—aerial attacks and ability to heal other bots), and then go at it.
The Campaign mode is arguably one of the best single-player, third-person experiences in a Transformers’ game to date. There are three difficulty settings to choose from and 13 chapters to work through. As previously mentioned, each chapter puts the player in the armor of one of the Transformers with a defined set of objectives. The developers (High Moon) were able to craft the levels around the bot used, creating challenges specific to the skill sets of the character. And the cast is reasonably diverse.
There are the well-known bots, like Jazz, and then there are surprises like Grimlock. Playing as Grimlock is certainly a different take on the Transformers. Running about with a sword and shield, hacking and hewing to glory, was not something expected from a Transformers’ title. And when he transforms … well, if that doesn’t pull a smile onto the face of gamers, it might be time to stop pretending to be a gamer.
The campaign is not overly long and players can probably get through it in about 10 hours or so.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has class and pizzazz. The graphics are eye pleasing and the sound breathes life into the Cybertron. Both are supporting cast for the gameplay, which is worth the price of admission. This is fun stuff.
The graphics are excellent and while there seemed to be a small slowdown in framerate when the action got particularly heavy, this was so seldom that it almost felt like it was imagined … until it happened a second time. Strong narrative, great single-player campaign, solid multiplayer modes are all pluses.
In the 2010 license release, Transformers: War for Cybertron allowed players to participate in a cooperative campaign mode. Not in Fall of Cybertron. It would have made this a much more robust and definitive Transformers title. Still, there are plenty of other game-play options here to keep players very busy.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The strength of the single-player campaign mode alone is enough to recommend this title. While the game can feel a bit on the linear side because there are no options to pick a character for each chapter, and each chapter has defined goals (this cuts down on replayability), the look and feel of the game is inviting and makes this an entertaining fall title. The multiplayer modes (particularly Escalation) just adds flavoring to an already tasty game.
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