Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review
Autobots, roll out!
Transformers: War For Cybertron is, collectively, one of our favorite games around here. We loved High Moon’s first Transformers game for many reasons, not least of which was the co-op campaign. Needless to say, we were much less excited when we learned the sequel would have a single player only campaign. Despite that one, very disappointing, fact the second game in the Cybertron series impresses by bringing you deeper into High Moon’s version of the Transformer’s universe. From the stunning vistas of Cybertron, to the fantastic characters, Fall of Cybertron packs a big metal punch.
Let me start with a Public Service Announcement; Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is not a movie tie-in game, nor is it affiliated in any way with any of the recent films. Every time I mentioned its predecessor, War for Cybertron, to one of my friends I was informed they had ignored it because they had assumed it was a crappy tie-in game to accompany one of the Michael Bay films. This series is anything but that and, as the name states, it brings you back to the time before the Transformers left their home planet of Cybertron and tells its story in the form of a third person shooter.
Now that we have that out-of-the-way, Fall of Cybertron picks up shortly after the events of War for Cybertron when the Autobots are attempting to leave the planet. Megatron and the Decepticons want to keep the Autobots from fleeing so they can rule over all of the citizens of Cybertron. The story focuses on the final battle, on a grand scale, as the Autobots try to launch the Ark and escape. If you’re a fan of the Transformers of old, you’ll love the story as it features a slightly different take on each character while still feeling quite familiar.
Even if you’re new to the series, I think you’ll fall in love with the setting and characters. Cybertron is beautiful, detailed and more colorful then you would expect for a planet that is largely covered in metal buildings. Each character has a ton of dialog recorded for themselves and a lot of the story is told on the fly, by conversations between the characters so you’re not always left waiting around for the events to play out. Things like the reverence the common Autobots have for the named characters, the way Starscream takes part in a series of shaky alliances with those around him, and how this version of the Insecticons are so creepy are part of what makes this an enjoyable ride and a true piece of fan service.
Instead of having a co-op campaign, High Moon elected to focus the levels around single characters and their special skills. Or at least that’s what they said prior to launch. After playing I can see little to lend credence to this excuse as the majority of the game, aside from a few brief moments, could have easily accommodated a couple of other players. I’m never one for letting studios off the hook for removing features from a game so I had to mention this.
The new approach, however, allows for a great deal of variety during the campaign. You’ll never be controlling one transformer for very long and each has their own play style. From stealth and assassination missions as Cliffjumper, to full blow aerial assaults as Vortex, it’s going to be hard to get bored with the character you’re controlling. The same can’t always be said for the missions though, some of them can be downright repetitive and have you doing things like destroying a number of bridge supports that all look the same, and are all being defended by the same enemies. Not every level is like this, but there is more than one.
New to the campaign are credits and upgrades. For every enemy you kill you’ll earn credits that can be spent when you find a Teletraan1 terminal. You’ll be able to purchase upgrades for your weapons, and persistent perks like increased health, that apply permanently once they are purchased. Upgraded guns will keep their upgrades applied every time you pick them up. It’s a small addition but it really helps to keep things interesting.
Fall of Cybertron’s Campaign tells a great story while moving the action along at a pace that’s fast enough to get your through the repetitive sections without bringing the whole experience down.
Fall of Cybertron may not include a cooperative Campaign, but Escalation mode is back and still supports four player online co-op across four well-designed maps. For the most part, Escalation is the same as it was before, but with only 15 waves of increasingly difficult enemies to survive this time. Another change is that health and ammo are no longer dispensed from a machine, but rather strategically placed on the ground of each level, which you still need purchase with the money that you earn from each kill you get. As well, doors still need to be purchased to unlock access to new areas of the map with new weapons and upgrades to buy.
Instead of one person spending all of their money to unlock a door, High Moon included a neat feature that allows each player to provide a portion of the funds to unlock it. It’s never fun being the person who has to fork over all of their money so this is a nice addition. Overall, Escalation received enough in the way of upgrades to keep it from feeling stale, and when you consider that it’s the only co-op option now, its return is welcome. I can definitely see myself playing more of Escalation this time around, but hopefully we see a few more maps in the future.
On the competitive Multiplayer side of things, Fall of Cybertron introduces a new Create a Character feature which lets you customize the four available classes to your liking. You can pick from the Infiltrator, Destroyer, Titan and Scientist and mix and match parts to create your own, brand new, Transformer. You can customize your weapon loadouts, every piece of Armor, the colors and even the voice instead of just choosing the overall appearance as you did in War for Cybertron.
Playing Fall of Cybertron against other players is a whole lot of fun. The action is fast, and the ability to change into a vehicle at any point really mixes things up. The classes are balanced almost perfectly and you can still play your role without feeling outweighed by the bigger bots, as long as you know what you’re doing. If you’re tired of military shooters but are still looking for some competition, give Fall of Cybertron a shot. You’ll have fun.
While I was initially disappointed with the lack of a co-op campaign, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron won me over by being a great game all around. I can’t say enough about the story, setting and characters; as a longtime fan, they’re perfect. Escalation and multiplayer will keep you, and your friends, going long after you’ve worn out the single player campaign. I truly hope that this turns out to be a long running series.