previews\ Feb 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Preview


When Transformers: War For Cybertron released in the summer of 2010, it not only showed great promise for the toy franchise in general, but also for its developer, High Moon Studios.  The team hit a grand slam out of the park with this game, featuring a solid storyline, great vehicular/robot action and a strong single player campaign, tied in with addictive multiplayer.  Since that time, we’ve only gotten bits and pieces of new Transformers game action, including last year’s pretty good game adaptation of Dark of the Moon, but this year, High Moon Studios will finally release the long-awaited sequel to Cybertron, introducing some big new bots to the fray.  We recently got invited to get an exclusive look at the game, where game producers showed us multiple segments, giving us an idea of the destruction that was to come.

We’re going to break this down section by section, but the first thing that we can say is that the team addressed the issues regarding War For Cybertron being mostly confined to indoor areas.  The team has modified its usage of the Unreal Engine 3 to introduce dynamic new outdoor environments, including a large part of Cybertron where Decepticons fly across a bridge, engaging between aerial combat and ground-and-pound battle action against the Autobots.  This transition worked smoothly, without much sacrifice to the in-game frame rate, and the detail was simply stunning, whether we were fighting enemies from a distance or smashing someone up close.  This new engine shows great promise, especially with the bigger bots.

The Decepticons segment highlighted our introduction to the game, including a robot that could transform between jet and helicopter modes, modifying its flight patterns accordingly.  It’s this kind of maneuverability that makes us eager to try the game out, and see how the controls react.  What’s more, this could introduce the possibility of flying alongside buddies – or against them – through online play.  But alas, not all the details about multiplayer were revealed yet.  Probably around E3.

The next segment showed the Constructicons forming the mighty Bruticus, and provides the opportunity to control the big guy, whether you’re deflecting bullets using a spinning fan blade, firing a continuous laser that fries everything in its path, stomping through bridges and eventually destroying generators that work in the Autobots’ favor.  You can combine his attacks in many ways, and it almost feels like a joyous, high-tech take of Godzilla stomping through Tokyo, but with lasers.  This could easily be our favorite part of the game.

But just because Decepticons make an appearance doesn’t mean you won’t be playing as Autobots.  The producers are mixing up control between the two teams throughout the game’s single player campaign, and they showed us one particular Autobot, Jazz, during the next segment.  Some annoying Decepticon snipers are getting in the way of progress, and Jazz, armed with his own specialist rifle, seeks to pick them off.  He gets around very quickly, maneuvering with the help of a laser whip that pulls him up to platforms in a hurry, and lets him take precise aim at the Decepticons shooting at him, picking them off one by one.  It’s a dizzying segment, but the producers explained that the game would offer controls that are easy to get into, so players don’t have to worry.  And besides, it’s a nice change of pace from lumbering around with Bruticus, as satisfying as his segment is.

Up next, the traditional leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, took command.  In his quest to set up the space ark that would transport his crew off of the dominated Cybertron planet, he finds himself in a vicious gun battle against various Decepticons, with a few fellow Autobots at his side.  Meanwhile, fighting in the background is Metroplex, a city-sized transformer that stomps his way through everything.  When he’s not busy blasting everyone to smithereens with the help of a slick-looking pulse rifle (which electrifies an opponent before completely frying them), he can command Metroplex to smash certain targets, which he does with incredible precision.

Along with the familiar combat situation, this stage also introduced the new Teletran store, in which you can purchase upgrades and weapons for your Autobot of choice.  This is where we received access to the pulse rifle, among other things, and if you save enough currency from each mission, you’re able to unlock even more sweet gear, such as blueprints, collectibles and more.  The only downside is that the host of the Teletran store comes across as the blandest Autobot we’ve ever heard.  Hey, it’s not like salesmen have much personality anyway, right?

The next stage introduces Grimlock, but first you temporarily take control of Starscream, who shows up in the Insecticons’ lab and fries someone at a control booth before confronting the loyal Dinobot.  The game then switches controls to Grimlock, where you tap buttons to free yourself from your constraints before finally bursting through a door, using a stomp attack.

The final segment that High Moon Studios showed us focused primarily on Grimlock.  First off, old school fans will be happy to know that Gregg Berger, the original voice of the character from the old TV series, fills the role quite well, grunting and yelling his lines like a pro.  So don’t worry about that.  Secondly, he’s powerful, to the point he doesn’t even carry a gun.  But let’s explain that.

Grimlock uses a cool-looking blade to carve up his enemies, as we saw in the provided stage, where small Insecticons charge him while a fellow captive Dinobot, Snarl, looks on.  Killing enough of these enemies fills a power bar, and once it reaches a certain point, you can transform into the powerful, fire-breathing robot T-Rex, breathing fire like crazy and stomping around like a truly angry behemoth.  Though the transformation is only temporary, it’s still one of the best parts of the game, as it shows just how big an addition Grimlock will be to the proceedings.

So far, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is shaping up to be a huge step up from the original game.  Like we said, a new engine is in place, with vast outdoor environments and a whole lot of action, and the animation on each of the robots, even during transformation, is seamless.  What’s more, along with Berger, the voice cast is filled with top-notch talent, including Peter Cullen, once again voicing Optimus Prime, and Nolan North…yup, Nathan Drake…as Cliffjumper.  Others sound good as well, bantering back and forth and trying to complete their respective missions.

Oh, as for multiplayer, though High Moon didn’t go into utter detail about what modes and player counts to expect, they did reveal the awesome customization system.  The classes are divided into four – infiltrator, destroyer, titan and scientist – and you can modify a number of things on them, including specific parts like chest plates and arms, and even which helmet you want to give them.  Furthermore, you can also adjust the primer and colors of each one, giving them a glossy sheen or going more for a matte finish.  The parts vary for each class, and each one brings specific bonus perks for the situation.  Like we said, we’ll break down the multiplayer more as Activision shows it to us over the summer.

We’re psyched.  Transformers: Fall of Cybertron could be one of the biggest sequels of the year from the Activision camp, and that’s even considering the possibility of the return of Guitar Hero and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.  Be sure to check back for more details soon.  It really is more than meets the eye.

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