One of my more anticipated games of 2012 was Tranformers: Fall of Cybertron. I'm an 80's kid and I grew up watching the G1 cartoons. Hell, I even cried the first time I saw Optimus Prime die. I curse Michael Bay's name into the wind every time I remember the bastardization of the Tranformers franchise. That's the kind of relationship I have with the Transformers. More than just loving robots that transformed into cars (though that was pretty sweet), I loved the characters and the mythology behind it. Sure, Transformers, as we know it, was practically ripped off from multiple robot toys from Japan, but still, it played an integral part of my youth.
This is why Tranformers: War for Cybertron was so special to me. For one thing, it was official canon, unlike that garbage from Hollywood. High Moon Studios took that extra step and worked really closely with Hasbro to come up with a plausible explanation for why the Transformers got to Earth in the first place. It's so important for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron to pick up where TF: WFC left off and continue to grow the mythology of our beloved Robots in Disguise. I'm happy to report that it did not disappoint me at all!
I'm going to really try to not be spoilery about the story. This is where it gets really interesting because I like it not for how it played out because we all knew what was going to happen in the end, but for how it was presented.
Metroplex heeds the call of the last Prime. Image from VG247.com.
The key characters were given distinct character traits, like they were in the cartoons and comics - Optimus Prime is the steadfast leader, Cliffjumper is the brave scout who's always itching for a fight, Perceptor is the scientist, Ratchet is the medic, Starscream is the capable and conniving usurper to the throne of Megatron, and so on and so forth. Each playable character had their moment to shine, and each one had specific abilities to showcase their role in the universe, as well as serve as a gameplay mechanic. And as the story progressed, you were put in control of certain characters vital to that particular plot point. There were a few that felt a little out of place, but they were fun to play.
Jazz is the token black guy. Sorry, but he is! Image from officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk.
If you remember TF: WFC, the ending was when shit really hit the fan. TF: Fall of Cybertron picks up directly after that, trying to find a way off Cybertron because energon levels were too low to sustain life. Of course, in their pursuit to do so, both parties have their challenges to face. In a nutshell, the entire conflict was based on limited vital resources and the play to acquire, maintain, conserve and protect it. When the world runs out of oil, that's the kind of thing we'll be facing, too.
What I enjoyed most about playing through the campaign are those little tidbits of information that gave depth to certain characters. You would find audio logs that explains why the Dinobots transformed into dinosaurs and why the Insecticons are the way they are. You'd also find a lot of hints and nods to certain things that would lead to events in the G1 series, especially Dinobot related ones.
Oh, but I hated the bit where they explained that Bumblebee can't talk. MICHAEL BAAAAAYYY!!!!! *shakes fist into the heavens*
High Moon Studios kept the same core mechanics from Transformers: War for Cybertron. It's essentially a third person shooter that allows you to choose from a plethora of guns and transform into vehicles. In what did get tweaked, there was a significant difference in gameplay. I wouldn't say better, just different.
This time around, you are given a primary weapon and a secondary weapon. Unlike most first person shooters, your secondary weapon is actually a lot more powerful than your primary. The ammo is different and is a lot harder to come by. You would normally just pull out your secondary if you really needed to. And speaking of weapons, High Moon also introduced the Teletraan 1 system which acts like hub for Autobot and Decepticon alike to upgrade their weapons, purchase miscellaneous offensive and defensive items, and acquire perks such as double health for the rest of the game, or restoring your character to full health every Teletraan 1 visit.
I really liked the weapon upgrade system, because it made each weapon more and more lethal, especially when it reaches the final modification. My favorite would have to be the Riot Cannon's final upgrade, the Planet Buster - it would shoot a massive explosive round at the end of each clip. It is glorious!
Each character plays specific levels and maps according to their abilities. So yeah, you no longer get to pick who you play as or pick a side, but I think this improved gameplay and storytelling. With TF: Fall of Cybertron, levels are diverse and provide unique gameplay experiences so it doesn't get boring and turn into another generic shooter. There are stealth, infantry, artillery and even airborne missions. Before you get tired of playing a certain type of level, the game switches to another mechanic that you'd have to master. It keeps the game fresh and you, on your toes.
Me Grimlock, me king! Me overpowered! Image from seibertron.com
My biggest gripe in the game would have to be the lack of the need to transform. That's what makes this franchise stand out, and unfortunately, it wasn't utilized very well. Unless you have to escape an exploding area, which happens like four times, there would be no need to transform. This is especially true for the land-based vehicles. Most of the time, the newly added dash ability does the trick to achieve speed. When I played, though, I made sure to transform a lot. Just because.
I am a big multiplayer fan. I'm normally the type who'd pick competitive play over co-op, but this isn't one of those times. While I think it's a great competitive multiplayer game with good balance and pacing, I just can't get used to it for the life of me. It's not really lag. At least, I don't think so. There are barely any Asian players, so lag is an issue, but I don't think that's why I can't get into it. I keep thinking "When you empty a clip of anything into the back of your opponent, that guy has to go down!"
Competitive multiplayer lets you customize four classes - Infiltrator, Titan, Destroyer and Scientist. You can customize your Transformer's chasis with multiple parts you can unlock or buy with real world money as DLC. (ON DISC DLC! FUCK THE WHAT!?) Customization is pretty fun. I made a Titan named McElbow Drop. He's pretty cool but I'm only competent when I use the Infiltrator class. I guess I just haven't pumped enough hours into the Destroyer and Titan classes yet.
Pimp out your ride! Image from MP1st.com
Where it's really at is my favorite Escalation Mode. This mode is similar to the previous Escalation in TF: WFC, but with a few tweaks. Unlike the TF: WFC Escalation mode, Trasformers: Fall of Cybertron's has a limit of 15 waves. It's still a cooperative mode but instead of picking characters out of a pool that you can even buy DLC for, the game lets you pick out of four characters with specific abilities.
In Escalation, you have to work as a team or you're dead. You have to resupply ammo for your team, heal them, lay down covering fire and pick them up when they fall. You still have to spend points for health, extra ammo, weapons and access to certain rooms. I found the Riot Cannon and Subsonic Repeater to be the best weapons. I don't know what else to say! I love this mode!
If you go through forums, you will see a bunch of people bitching about how bad the graphics of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron are on the PS3. I dunno, it's really not that bad. There are more jaggies on the PS3, but the colors are crisper and the blacks are blacker than the XBox 360 version. Of course, the PC version is still the best.
I have no idea what platform this screenshot was taken on but it looks sweet. Image from Kotaku.com.au
Peter "Optimus Prime" Cullen has done it again. His performance as the Autobots' head honcho is, once again, spot on! The same goes for Fred Tatasciore's Megatron and Sam Reigel's Starscream. Two of my favorite voice actors are in the game, too, and they do a great job - Nolan North and Steve Blum.
The world around you sounds and feels like a non-organic metallic environment, with every foot step and every round fired. And as you progress through the levels, everything about the score is epic and gives great ambiance to the right moments. Oh, and Stan Bush's The Touch is in it. That alone would score the game a 10 out of 10 for sound.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a great game for its story and ever-changing gameplay mechanics. The multiplayer, as long as the community is active, will keep you around for a very long time. And to top it all off, you've got Escalation and that is just hours and hours of fun, especially if you're teamed up with a funny Mexican dude. The only thing that sucks about it, really, is the on-disc DLC you have to pay $10 for.
I give Transformers: Fall of Cybertron a solid 8 out of 10!