Transformers: Fall of Cybertron review
A couple of years back, High Moon Studios really wowed us when it released Transformers: War For Cybertron, a game that really did justice for the franchise where other products – namely movies with Shia LaBeouf in them – could not. After a somewhat one-off last year with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, High Moon returns to that territory this week with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, a sequel that’s packed with goodness, even if there are instances where bigger isn’t always better.
The Autobots and Decepticons are still at each other’s throats, with their home planet, Cybertron, in a dying state. All the Autobots want to do is leave in a cosmic Ark of sorts, while the Decepticons, vying to get their hands on some precious Energon, want to crush their foes flat. The campaign mode will give you the opportunity to control various characters from each side, including familiar faces (Megatron, Optimus Prime), more obscure robots (the Combaticons, Cliffjumper) and even a few new faces coming into the story for the first time (Bruticus and, of course, Grimlock).
Though the campaign is fairly short, it’s lots of fun, especially when certain parts of it come together so well. One great stage involves an assault on a mega-sized bridge, with the Combaticons taking out gears collectively while destroying enemies on the ground and in the air. The introduction of Grimlock is awesome too, as he starts swatting away at Insecticons in robot form before he finally shows them what he’s really made of in his T-Rex form, complete with flamethrower breath. He truly is king.
The gameplay as a whole is mostly solid, but not perfect. While playing as small cars, maneuverability can be slippery when using the turbo booster, as we learned trying to escape from a stage midway through. But you’ll still be transforming between robot and vehicle forms with ease for the most part, using all sorts of firepower, including plasma cannons, a corrosive goo gun and missile launchers.
Once you finish the campaign – which should take you a few hours – you can move on to the multiplayer modes, which are quite satisfying. Escalation is a four-player survival-style mode where you face 15 waves of growing enemy waves, unlocking new perks and weapons with the currency you collect. It’s hardly original (hello, Gears of War 2?), but a good time nevertheless.
Competitive multiplayer is even better, as you get to choose between four various classes, each with their own special abilities on the battlefield, as you fight between Autobots and Decepticons. Leveling up in this mode is addictively fun, and you can even give your robots a special design, including a metallic finish. What’s more, each robot transforms almost effortlessly, a true feat that shows High Moon’s dedication to product.
But they try a little too hard at times. And you’ll see that in some cases with the graphics. The Unreal Engine 3 technology really goes a long way here to introducing more sprawling areas of Cybertron, from a harvesting factory to a battle underneath a lumbering, super-sized bulldozer. However, sometimes there’s too much going on, and the frame rate can take a hit, what with enemies coming at you and lighting happening all at once. Still, it maintains for the most part, and that certainly beats not working at all. Plus, some of these animations are really cool, like when Grimlock takes a bite out of his enemies. CHOMP!
The audio fares much better. The music is excellent, typical of Transformers standards, and the sound effects add a great mixture of effects, including wicked plasma blasts. But it’s the voicework that really kicks the product into overdrive. Peter Cullen is once again masterful as Optimus Prime, and we’re thrilled to hear Gregg Berger again as Grimlock. Not to be outdone is Nolan North, who voices Cliffjumper and Bruticus to great effect. His exchanges with Troy Baker (voicing Jazz) are probably the most entertaining ones in the game.
Though somewhat flawed in the graphics and shortened campaign department, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a splendid sequel that outdoes last year’s somewhat rushed Dark of the Moon by a long shot. What’s more, its multiplayer really gives you a lot to do, whether it’s surviving with your friends or taking on all comers and leveling up like a bandit. It'd be cheesy if we said, "It's more than meets the eye"...but it really is.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]