Transformers: War for Cybertron
Posted 2 years ago By - Dan Boissoneault
Saturday morning was a magical place where anything and everything could happen, and in the case of the original generation of transforming robots apply named The Transformers, a 5-year old boy found a veritable lifetime of dreams and inspiration. Ya, that’s how big it was back then. What if I told you that there are moments in High Moon’s Transformers: War for Cybertron that reflect this sentiment beyond perfection; effectively putting you in control of your childhood fantasy when Optimus says "Roll Out!". No Bay, no bull.
The Transformers franchise has had a slightly rough go of it on the video game side of things. The Michael Bay film license is proof enough that gamers are not all that interested in playing the hatchet job story and continuity from the movies and are looking for something made from a little more "sterner stuff". High Moon Studios have crafted just that with a G1 series prequel that borrows influences from many sources that hard core ‘bot fans have considered to be top shelf in story and presentation for years. For instance, we’ve got some original season one nods with a few questions answered regarding character alliances; some of the Dreamwave Productions comic Transformers: The War Within ideas which are very prominent in the staging of the original Cybertronian wars; and finally one of the nicest surprises, the inclusion of lines, overall mood, and similar set pieces from the 1986 animated feature The Transformers: The Movie. It all mixes together quite well to appease the crowd who cares and to act as a great primer for newbies to the franchise.
War for Cybertron has two campaigns to work through, the Decepticon’s rise to power leading into the Autobot’s bid to save Cybertron. Each campaign is comprised of five chapters adding up to a good 10-12 hours of gameplay. You can go the road alone, but it’s highly recommended you play through co-op with 2 friends to fill out the 3-character team available to you. Each chapter features a different collection of bots to chose from and having A.I. control any of them is not a great way to experience the game. The story takes a little while to gather steam but by the time the Decepticon campaign ends, most die hard fans will be remembering their childhood fondly with an overwhelming amount of nostalgic glee.
What would an amazing push for the proper presentation be without the gameplay to back it? Picking up the controller will reveal that High Moon studios looked to a competent 3rd person style for inspiration. The result is a similar weight and substance to the Gears of War formula for Bot mode, with a floating tank-like solution for the vehicle transformations. The driving/flying does take a little time to get used to, but by the time you complete the campaigns and jump into multiplayer, you’ll be flipping between modes with ease and looking really darn cool doing it. Imagine playing the multiplayer conquest mode where your team has to control multiple points to win the match but they have the added ability to literally race between points. It takes a well versed gametype and effectively supercharges it.
In all of the the game modes there are four types of classes for the Transformers, although online multiplayer is the only place you create your own Scout, Scientist, Leader and Soldier. After you pick your class you can choose from a list of pre-set weapons, abilities and upgrades and unlock more as you level up your class during gameplay. You also get to name your Bot, pick your preferred chassis and colour scheme. Scouts are good at being fast and sneaky, Scientists are essentially flying units that are kind of like the spy and medic from Team Fortress 2 all rolled into one, Leaders are basically what you’d expect Optimus to play like (buff your team with defence) and the Soldier is a tank with all the really big guns. It’s amazing how all of these classes seem so raw but are exceptionally balanced, even when swapping back and forth between robot and vehicle mode.
It’s actually a shame that many of the initial missions in the campaign don’t concentrate on the vehicle modes as much as learning how to bust some tin cans in bipedal fashion. The tutorial is completely menu based but doesn’t hurt the experience at all as far as most will be concerned. The controls are exactly what you’d expect them to be if you’ve played any shooter. The only other slight nagging issue is how quickly all the weapons burn through ammo and then how difficult it is to procure replenishment. Though if you are playing with friends, you’ll have someone to watch your back until a new room with power-ups comes along.
When traversing the world of Cybertron the first and most notable thing one will notice is how "busy" everything looks. Everything is made of either lights or metal - that includes your character and all the other players on the field of battle. Questions like "Is that the turret I’m supposed to shoot at or just part of the wall?" will pop in to your head but these queries will quickly pass as your mind adjusts to how things present themselves on the metal planet. It’s a testament to High Moon’s abilities as a developer to take level design that is very limited in scope due to the source materials and manage to build sets that look different enough but still say "Cybertron" all over them, which they probably do… in Cybertronian!
Looking at the characters themselves, great care was taken in making them resemble the G1 cast. The heads of characters are specifically telling of this point. Finally, we get a Bumblebee that looks like the Bumblebee that is instantly recognizable to fans. The same goes for Soundwave (except for his alternate mode) and Megatron (for obvious "gun control" reasons). The designs are so nice to glean that it’s unfortunate that the camera can’t be turned during gameplay to check out your virtual action figure.
As mentioned previously, Optimus likes to say classic one-liners such as "Till all are one!" like it’s nobody’s business and the same goes for the rest of cast. Unsurprisingly, Peter Cullen reprises his role as Optimus Prime, but the nice little treat is that the new voices brought in for others feature some great work from experienced folks. The new voice actors are able capture the personalities needed to pull off great parodies of the original cast. Sam Riegel as Starscream and Fred Tatasciore as Megatron (and more) hit the perfect chord of evil ambition and ruthlessness, respectively, and carry the frustration for each other magnificently.
If I were told that a Transformers game was going to come out that I would buy, play, and likely never trade in, I would honestly not believe it and also question the sanity of the person telling me this. Nevertheless, Transformers: War for Cybertron is sitting on my shelf where it will stay. The main cause for this odd realization is how much fun the game is to come back to. The online multiplayer is fantastic. You are given the regular options like Team and Solo Deathmatch, Conquest (my favorite), Code of Power (Capture the flag) and other renamed gametypes that have become standards in most shooters. On top of that there is Escalation, which is like Horde mode with weapon vending machines and unlockable rooms that house better weapon selection. There aren’t any options for split screen in any of the multiplayer modes, including co-op, but this exclusion doesn’t hurt too bad.
As far as extras are concerned, so far there are a couple of unlockable characters, one for each faction. They bring more chassis options for multiplayer character creation, art assets to view, and an absolutely amusing end credits sequence. With DLC rumoured on the coming horizon we’ll have more time to sink into this title with more maps for multiplayer and Escalation and more characters to use and enjoy.
I’ll admit that Transformers: War For Cybertron wasn’t sitting very high on my radar and really surprised me. I was half expecting to get more of the same out of Activision but they made an excellent choice with High Moon studios for this project. High Moon managed to recreate a classic formula in a different medium and make an extremely large amount of fans very happy. This is a great big step in the right direction for the franchise and brand-owner Hasbro knows it. I hope we start to see more from High Moon and Hasbro in the near future. Maybe they’ll even manage to get me to buy the toys again. I know the 5-year old buried deep in my heart is just itching to get a new plastic hero...or anti hero. Looks like the old toy selling strategy is evolving. Primus would be proud.
+ Multiplayer is a balanced surprise
+ Dripping with 80’s nostalgia
+ Story works into original continuity
+ Lots of value to be found
- Where’s the ammo?
- Tutorials are not hands on. Only accessible in menu
- No split-screen
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Release Date : 2010/06/22
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Activision
Developer : High Moon Studios
Category : Action
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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