Review: Transformers: War For Cybertron
Transformers: War for Cybertron significantly aimed to break away from the cash-in status that Transformers games currently have, and instead honour the source material with a strong entry. How well did it do to achieve this?
- Worth The Time?Yes if you're in it for the multiplayer. But if you're a Transformers fan, then definitely, for all reasons.
- Things LovedTransformers (of course), the immensely addictive and varied multiplayer modes, co-op online, the ability to transform at any time - making combat really smooth and awesome.
- Things HatedThe fact that the main campaign is mostly a standard third person shooter and nothing special, the slightly irregular difficulty curve of the main campaign, no offline co-op, the few graphical bugs, the somewhat boring Decepticon campaign.
- RecommendationIf you're a Transformers fan, there should be nothing stopping you from buying this game, especially if you have access to online. If you're not, then the main campaign won't do anything for you, and you'd have to be in it for the multiplayer.
- Name: Transformers: War for Cybertron
- Genre: Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1-3
- Multiplayer: Online Co-Op (Up to 3 players) and Online Multiplayer (10 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: High Moon Studios
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R550
- Reviewed On: PS3
It really feels like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum started a revolution. An era where licensed games can stand amongst the very best, as equals, and not as mere shrug-offs. It feels like we can now start supporting the production of them, rather than resenting it. Of course, I’m not talking about movie-tie ins and such, but rather those that set out with the aim of being a true tribute to the comic book heroes and villains we love so much. The Rocksteady, and now High Moon Studios, ideal. Yes, Transformers: War for Cybertron is the next example of this, as it really does do the world of Transformers a good deal of justice.
The story of the game is typical, but there’s nothing wrong with that, because War for Cybertron’s premise creates the perfect get up for a Transformers game. Set long before the events of the Transformers: Prime TV series, this is a real war between the Autobots and Decepticons. The game features two single player campaigns, one for each faction, and you’re able to choose which to begin first. Or, you could just play the game from the first chapter, which starts off in the Decepticon story, and go at it in order until you get to the Autobots. On the Decepticon side, Megatron’s war in Cybertron is a fight to return it to his ideal “golden age”. To do this, he seeks out an all-powerful source of energy, Dark Energon, in order to take control of it and turn the tides in his favour. With the Autobots, their leader, Zeta Prime, has been killed, which leads Optimus to become the temporary new leader. It falls on his shoulders to take the fight back to the Decepticons, and put an end to the war once and for all.
For the most part, the main campaign is what you can expect from Transformers, as its filled with famous faces, such as Bumblebee, some fan service and, over all, pure robot rampage. On its own, the unfortunate part is that, gameplay wise, it’s nothing special, as it’s simply like a typical third person shooter, and it really doesn’t reflect what this game truly has to offer as well as the multiplayer does. However, that’s as far as playing it alone is concerned, as the good part is that you can play the main campaign co-op with two other players joining the war, and that’s an easy way to make it a lot more fun. Still, there’s over ten, satisfying hours of game time to be had in the main campaign, and after that there are a hoard of multiplayer modes waiting for you.
The game plays like a standard third person shooter with a Transformers twist. That may sound like a negative point, but the reality is that the simplicity of the game is mostly with the learning curve, and the complexity of it, or rather its depth, comes in with the gameplay. You could say that this game is a fine line somewhere between shallow and deep, and it caters for everyone. Going back to the main campaign, there really isn’t much to say. It’s your standard affair, which has you shoot everything in sight until you get to something bigger, and it’s really the excellently done cutscenes, story and co-op, which will be your driving forces to play it. The cool part is probably being able to choose who you wish to play as in each mission, so you’re not forced to stick with any one character.
Where this game gains its own identity, and strays away from being just another shooter, is with the Transformers themselves, as you’d expect. Firstly, each robot has two modes, that being humanoid form and vehicle form. Transforming is done by pressing down the left analogue stick, and it can be done at any time, which really adds fluidity to the combat – plus it looks awesome. In this game, it isn’t some gimmick, because transforming is actually very important, which is part thanks to the good level design that allows you plenty of space to go crazy no matter which character you are. See, each robot comes with special abilities as well as a main weapon – a secondary one can be picked up in-game if your character doesn’t start with one – and these abilities vary depending on your character. They’re a mix of offensive, defensive and helping abilities, and there is a good variety in them.
For example, an offensive one would be Megatron’s life drain, a defensive one would be Optimus’ war cry, which powers up him and allies around him, and a helping one would be the dash ability, which is good for dodging and movement. These abilities are great, but they really mean so much more in the multiplayer of the game. Ultimately, the gameplay is what we’ve always wanted from a Transformers game, especially when you ramp off from a high point at top speed in vehicle mode, transform in mid air to humanoid form, blast an enemy in the face, land and introduce another to your massive melee weapon, all without missing a step. It’s fluid and a great deal of fun.
However, here’s the catch. Ammunition isn’t infinite, but in vehicle form, you get access to different weapons and abilities. Furthermore, not all vehicles are the same, as some Transformers, like Starscream, become ships, which allows you to take to the skies and get a new feel on combat. Basically, you need to govern your ammo, and make use of your vehicle mode’s weaponry and road kill powers, if you’re running low. Alternatively, you could charge in and whack robots with your melee weapon, but that’s an easy way to die. That leads me to my next point, which is probably the last shot to take at the main campaign. The difficulty curve is quite irregular. A lot of the game is easy going, but some sections, particularly some of the later bosses, can be extremely brutal, and you’ll be reduced to scrap metal in frustrating ways. Playing co-op, however, does lessen the pain here.
Once you’re done with the main campaign, you’ll really get to see where this game shines. War for Cybertron has taken inspiration from many games for its multiplayer, and it has really paid off well. First, for the co-op junkies, there’s a special “Escalation” mode, which is really reminiscent of Call of Duty: World at War’s Zombie mode, where you team up with some people online to survive against endless waves of bad guys until you die. Multiplayer is a whole new world. There are many modes to play, and the majority of them are awesome, even the typical ones. You get your standard Team Deatmatch and Deathmatch, and then you get Conquest, where you need to control central nodes on the map, Countdown to Extinction, where you have to plant a bomb in the enemy’s base three times to win, Code of Power, which are short rounds in which you fight over a huge melee weapon, and lastly, Power Struggle, where the idea is to control power nodes and accumulate points. The multiplayer caters for up to ten players and, while this might sound like a small number, it really is perfect due to the maps.
Online is all class based, so you won’t be choosing popular characters from the Transformers universe. Rather, it’s all up to you, as you create your own Transformer by selecting your class, which determines your vehicle form, and then customising your looks, colour scheme, weaponry and abilities. There are four classes, namely Leader (trucks), Scout (cars), Scientist (jets) and Soldier (tanks). Each class has its own vehicle mode, unique abilities and perks and play styles. You level up and unlock more abilities with experience points, which are gained from killing other players, completing challenges, winning and so on. It’s actually surprisingly good fun and varied. There’s even a “Prime” mode to be unlocked, which is much like Call of Duty’s prestige mode. All being said, this is not a tacked on multiplayer, but rather a complete, fantastic addition to the game, and I’d even go as far as to say that it makes the game. Furthermore, getting into a game is as easy as pie, as all you’ll have to do is search and you’ll be thrown into one with the mode of your choice. Alternatively, you can create a private game and invite your own party.
It’s here in the multiplayer where you’ll see all of the abilities being put to use, and it’s awesome fun. The battles are varied and great, especially as Scientists are dog fighting it out in the sky, Scouts are running around invisible trying to back stab people or sniping from a distance, Leaders are powering up their allies or taking the front and Soldiers are getting up close and personal. There are lots and lots of abilities as well as upgrades, which are like perks that buff you, your abilities and give other bonuses, and it all means that there is lots of time to be spent playing War for Cybertron, to unlock them all and indulge. Perhaps the only real problem is that, while many may welcome the simplicity, it’s possible that it might lead the game to become old rather quickly, more so for those that want a deeper game. Otherwise, the only other issues, which are more like nitpicks than real problems, is that there could have been more robot models to choose from, more colours and overall more customisation options. Still, as it is currently, it’s all pretty well done, and the time you’ll spend with the multiplayer will be very entertaining.
In the graphics area, War for Cybertron does not disappoint. Some of the “Generation One” Transformers have been remodeled, and no one should be upset about this fact, because they all look awesome, and the intricate details on display as they move and transform are great to see. The in-game movie cutscenes also deserve lots of credit. The only issues is that there are some graphical bugs, like robots going through some objects at times, and due to the nature of the levels you’re in, a lot of them can sometime look the same, which make for repetitive and bland visuals. Still, the levels look good and so does the game. On a more technical side, there is nothing much to worry about, aside from the fact that there is a mandatory install for the PS3 version of the game before you can play, but that’s hardly a deal breaker. The game plays smoothly and greatly, and packs solid presentation.
Perhaps the best thing about Transformers: War for Cybertron is that it’s the complete package. It has just about everything you could want to have in a Transformers game and, to be perfectly honest, in any game like it. A lengthy single player, co-op and an expansive multiplayer. Transformers: War for Cybertron delivers in all areas. A must for all Transformers fans, a definite possibility for all shooter fans and multiplayer maniacs.