Review: Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron
In 2010 High Moon brought us Transformers: War for Cybertron, a good game that really made its mark and delivered in all the right areas. Two years later, High Moon is giving us the sequel.
- Worth The Time?Yes, absolutely if you're a fan.
- Things LovedThere's plenty of gameplay variety with the characters, the campaign is solid overall and gets really exciting towards the end, the storyline feels mature, there's plenty here for fans of the source material, the multiplayer is excellent, creating your own transformer is simple but really cool, the Escalation mode is great, there's a welcome variety in weapons and perks.
- Things HatedThe campaign feels a bit short, the framerate can slow down when things get too busy, all characters have identical melee attacks and dash animations, there are a few balancing issues online.
- RecommendationIf you're a fan, and especially if you enjoyed the first game, then you'll have no regrets making this purchase, although be sure to be in it for the multiplayer because the campaign is a bit short. If you're not a fan, then this is a competent and varied third person shooter with a strong multiplayer offering. Just make sure in either case that multiplayer is an option.
- Name: Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron
- Genre: Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Competitive (10 players), online co-op (4 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: High Moon Studios, Mercenary Technology (PC)
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R255 (PC), R499 (PS3, 360)
- Reviewed On: PS3
In 2010, High Moon Studios brought us Transformers: War for Cybertron, which was an all-round solid game with a surprisingly great multiplayer component. The campaign was mostly standard and nothing spectacular, but it was still worth playing and its online co-op function made it fun. Of course, the multiplayer aspect really made the game stand-out for me. Now, two years later, High Moon is back with the sequel, and being worthy of great developers it has focused on bettering the original game and addressing all of its problems. The first of their focus was on the main campaign, and it opted to eliminate the online co-op function in exchange for a stronger narrative focus. In my opinion, that was just one of many good decisions High Moon made to ensure that this would be the ultimate Transformers experience. And truth be told, High Moon Studios has mostly succeeded.
The story takes place directly after the events of War for Cybertron. The game puts you right in the middle of the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, as the two sides battle for control over their home world, Cybertron, which is approaching ruin as its core is filled with Dark Energon, forcing it to shut down and slip into a death-like stasis. Fall of Cybertron will serve to illustrate the final battle between the two factions, which eventually results in the complete destruction of Cybertron, forcing the Autobots to escape and seek refuge in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. High Moon aimed for a darker tone and looked to give fans a more mature take on the Transformers story. Since fans already know the inevitable outcome, Fall of Cybertron is a game that is much more about the journey than the destination, and the premise is certainly exciting and grand in scale. Throughout the game you’ll play as various characters as you swap perspectives between the Autobots and Deceptions, and this really helps to keep the campaign feeling alive and dynamic, especially in the latter parts of it.
With its gameplay, Fall of Cybertron remains very much the same as the first game, but a number of improvements have been made. High Moon has ensured that each character in the campaign feels unique, and this is achieved well by the solid variety in weaponry and abilities. Also, as you swap characters from level to level, you’ll not only gain a different perspective on the war, but you’ll also enjoy different approaches to gameplay. The levels are usually designed around the character you’re playing as. For example, when you have a character who can turn into an air vehicle you’ll usually be in large, open playing fields to give you freedom of movement. Or if you’re controlling a stealthy character, you’ll usually end up in more confined corridors with good hide spots. It’s good level design to healthily mix things up, and while the campaign is linear, it’s executed quite well and there’s a lot more variety than in the first game, where many of the levels were merely linear corridor shootouts. Throw in Dinobots, Insecticons and titan-worthy Transformers like Grimlock and Bruticus, a fusion of multiple Decepticons, and you’ve certainly got yourself great variety in characters.
The game’s campaign starts off a bit mellow as in mostly a stock standard third person shooter, but as you progress it really becomes much more exciting and varied. It’s unfortunately a bit on the short side, but it’s better to be short and so very sweet rather than long and lifeless. High Moon really worked hard to improve the single player aspect of the game, and it definitely is a far better experience than its predecessor. If you know the source material well, unlike myself, you’re certainly going to get off on all the Transformers mayhem, but if you’re just a fan who loves giant robot action, very much like me, then the campaign is still great, and it reaches epic proportions towards the end. The reason I have so much praise for the campaign is because I applaud High Moon’s effort at trying to create a much better single player than the original game, and as far as I’m concerned it succeeded in all the right ways.
The gameplay is basically the same as War for Cybertron, but there have been a number of improvements particularly with the weapons and weapon variety. All characters have a primary weapon, have access to a secondary heavy weapon and have unique abilities. For example, Starscream can turn himself invisible, Megatron can hover in the air and slam down onto the ground with tremendous force, Optimus Prime can summon Metroplex, the city-sized Transformer, to help out in battle and so on. Characters are further differentiated by their vehicle forms, which range from fast cars to helicopters to jets to full on tanks depending on your character. To make things better, you can grow attached to the weapon of your choice, whether it be a shotgun, machine gun or cannon, as they can all be upgraded using Teletran 1 stores in levels. In these stores you can also buy consumable items that have one use each, such as shields that protect you from enemy fire, as well as Perks that are permanent throughout the campaign, and do things such as make you move faster, increase your health and reduce the cost of upgrades. A nice touch is also that if you’re connected online, you can see community ratings for weapons in the stores, and you’re also able to give your own ratings.
High Moon has really fleshed out the gameplay, focusing a lot on variety but also on making things more challenging. To play well you’ll need to have a good grasp of your character and make use of both their ground and vehicle forms. There is no cover system, so you have to hide the old fashioned way, and there’s also no regenerating health, as only your shields recover and you’ll need to pick up energon cubes to heal. You take more damage in your ground form and less in your vehicle form, so using both effectively can ensure you live longer. The game provides a decent challenge, and its mechanics are simple to get a grasp of but you’ll need to put in a bit of work to be good at using them the right way. Especially since each character will require you to use different tactics. There’s a fluidity to the gameplay that High Moon gets just right, and it won’t take long before you’re vaulting off ramps and transforming in mid air to blast away at your enemies, bullet dodging in a frenzy of dashes and cutting up enemies with melee strikes when they get too close. Speaking of, it’s annoying though that every character has the exact same melee attack in both damage and looks, as well as identical dash and running animations. It’s hardly the end of the world, but it does cheapen the variety a little.
The best part of this game is definitely the multiplayer for me. It’s been kept mostly the same as the last game, but many improvements and additions have been made that make it even better. The Escalation mode, the co-op mode where you team up with three other players against waves of enemies, from the last game has returned but it’s been made better. This is the only online mode where you play as a team of main characters from the story, such as Megatron or Starscream, and four players team up each taking control of one main character determined by whoever picks first. Things start out easy enough, but with each wave they get harder and you’ll really need to work as a team to get through, as well as monitor your cash and buy ammo and upgrades accordingly. All of you will have to do your jobs in the later parts of the level, like the player who can heal will need to stick close to teammates to revive them if they fall and heal them if they’re low, the tanks will need to get out there and kill and the more defensive player will have to watch the others’ backs while the stealthy player makes alternate approaches and flanks. This mode is good fun to play, but you can imagine that it can be frustrating if you play with silly players or those who don’t work as a team and ruin it for the rest.
There are four multiplayer modes in the game, namely Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Capture the Flag and Head Hunter. Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are pretty self-explanatory, and you may know the idea of Conquest from other shooters. Basically, there are three Energon Nodes on the map and each team battles to control them and gain points by doing so. The first team to get the required number of points wins. If you feel you’re still new to things and want to level up, Conquest may be the mode to do it as you gain experience points for helping to capture or defend nodes, so you don’t need to be all that good. Lastly Head Hunter is a mode where you kill enemies and collect the sparks they drop, and return them to a Collection Node to score points. To fight against camping, the Nodes move around the map, and you need to be very careful in this mode because if you die on the way to a Collection Node, you lose everything you have plus your own sparks. You can see why this mode can be quite frustrating, and even though it’s fun for those who like the challenge and severe consequences to failure, it’s understandable why you’d avoid it. All of the modes are enjoyable though.
The multiplayer has gotten a lot of new features, with the most notable being the ability to create your own Transformer. The four main classes are still there, though with a different name or two, namely Scientist, Infiltrator, Destroyer and Titan, but now you can unlock two extra character slots for each class that provide you with alternate Transformers in appearance. And you can use money earned to purchase parts like weapons and abilities and upgrades for them, as well as cosmetic parts for the head, shoulders, arms, legs, wheels and body of your Transformer. Of course you can also edit the colours of your Transformer, and colours are unique to Autobots and Decepticons. You’ll unlock more parts and purchasable items as you level up, so there’s incentive for you to keep playing. To be frank, the system isn’t deep or something you’ll invest hours into, but it’s definitely better in than out and personal customisation is generally a good thing. It just does enough to get it exactly right.
The game is as fun as ever online. The classes make it dynamic, while the levelling system and upgrades make you want to keep playing. There’s also the Prime mode which functions much like Call of Duty’s Prestige mode, for fans who really want to prove they’re badass. I did feel there are a few balancing issues that need ironing out, because when I just started out and played Team Deathmatch, I found myself up against two high-level players working together in a way that made me pretty much useless. One was a Destroyer or Titan, and the other sat behind him and healed him almost permanently, making my starter bare-boned weapons quite useless. It would have been nice to be put in matches with players around my rank, but hey, getting thrown in the deep end does have its benefits.
It’s also noticable that certain maps blatantly favour aerial Transformers over ground ones, and it would have been nice to cater for both similar to games like Warhawk or Battlefield, but it’s not going to hinder your enjoyment of the game and I do understand it’s difficult to perfectly balance the various approaches to combat. And really, despite my low rank in the beginning, pretty soon I was having a blast with my favourite class the Infiltrator, because few things beat turning invisible, sneaking up behind someone, or right in front of them if you’re daring, and blasting them in the face with a shotgun. The classes are all great fun and each play very differently with unique weapons, vehicle forms and abilities, so there’s a lot for you to try out if you ever grow tired of your playstyle and want to mix things up. And it’s easy to enjoy the game and be effective when you start out. You’re always going to get the odd match or two where you’re very much outclassed in the beginning, but for the most part I could make kills and play well with the bigger boys, despite my inexperience in levels, which is great.
The game is mostly great graphically speaking. The Transformers are very well detailed and it’s really cool to see them animate as all the gears and body parts shift and change around as you move and transform. I did notice a few bland textures or textures that take a few seconds to load, and this is a PS3 issue I’ve seen before. The environments are great to look at and there’s a nice variety in them all. There’s a few flaws in animation here and there, and a moment or two where the lip syncing didn’t really add up, but I can’t say I encountered anything major. The biggest problem was probably the three or four occasions during the campaign when the frame rate dropped for a few seconds because things got busy, and while it didn’t make the game unplayable, it was very noticeable. My game did crash twice during the level with Bruticus, forcing me to restart my PS3, but these things are hard to pin on the game as it could easily have been my console just getting too hot after hours of playing, but I mention it because it could also be an issue with the level itself. I did complete it just fine after the second restart though. Other than that, the music and voice acting are good and the audio work is generally solid.
In the end, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a better game than its predecessor in almost all ways. The campaign is a bit on the short side, so be wary of rushing into a purchase if you don’t intend to play multiplayer. However, if that is what you’re after, then this is absolutely worth every cent to all fans, and it definitely is worth looking at for those new to this scene as well. This is probably the best Transformers game you could ask for, and I loved my time with it. High Moon has crafted a Transformers game that can match many in this genre on the market. It’s a really great game.