The world of video games never ceases to surprise me. If the current trend continues, we’ll soon be able to say “Long gone are the days of mediocre movie tie-ins and disappointing video game adaptations.” Indeed, not only are publishers finally starting to realize that it’s possible to be successful with a franchise without tying their product to the release of a major motion picture of the same name, but the quality of these licensed titles is increasing dramatically. Whether you look at Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man or Star Wars, each series has received its fair share of poor games. However, in recent years, each of them has had at least one game that put the series on a pillar of greatness for gamers. In 2010, developer High Moon Studios attempted to do the same thing for Transformers with War For Cybertron. Did they succeed? Well, in this gamer’s opinion at the very least, they did. Not only was the game fantastic, but it even exceeded the quality of the Michael Bay films! How does its sequel, Fall of Cybertron, compare? I’ve temporarily transformed into a hermit in order to find out.
War for Cybertron wasn’t exactly known for its stellar storytelling. Sure, it’s a Transformers game, and the plot isn’t exactly the main priority for most fans, but it comes as a very nice bonus that the narrative is greatly improved in the sequel. Fall of Cybertron is a continuation of the events depicted in the previous game. It presents the attempted escape of the Autobots from Cybertron, as well as the destruction of its society. Letting you play as multiple characters, including the beloved Optimus Prime, the game delivers a fairly complex, engaging story that feels like it has its place in the Transformers universe. You’ll see it all unfold from a variety of perspectives, leaving you in a VIP seat to enjoy what it has to offer.
"If you’re looking for a great roller coaster ride of a game, FOC will provide just that."
The gameplay is where TFOC really shines. As it was the case with the prequel, it mixes elements from other games such as Vanquish and Gears of War to create an action-packed, cinematic third person shooter experience. This time around, High Moon Studios really outdid themselves. The controls are tighter, the difficulty curve is improved, the added variety helps keep the campaign fresh, and more scripted moments really help push the cinematic vibe. Fall of Cybertron, however, still doesn’t play much on the transforming abilities of the characters you embody. This is a Transformers game after all. While each character does have the ability, they feel incredibly underused and restricted. The transformations are only really useful in certain pre-determined sections of the game, and on-screen prompts will make sure you don’t forget to do so when you need to. Instead of feeling like they’re an organic part of the gameplay, they feel more like cheap gimmicks to add some variety and pacing to the levels, as well as tie them to the franchise’s namesake.
The campaign is extremely linear, which can be both good and bad. The linearity allowed the developers to add more of those scripted sequences I previously mentioned, but it can also make the game feel a bit too restrictive and repetitive. Like in the previous game, you’ll spend most of your time going through very tight corridors and killing hordes of enemies. Sure, there’s the occasional bigger playground that helps give the game a grander, more epic atmosphere, but those are rarely completely open for you to explore. For example, multiple times throughout the game I found myself wowed after coming out of a long, seemingly endless tunnel and seeing a large-scale battlefield crawling with enemies. Unfortunately, I soon found out that most of these sequences put you in charge of a large turret set up far away from the action, and had you mow down large numbers of enemies from far away. I found that to be pretty disappointing. On a more positive note, the developers included a deep customization and leveling system for weapons via the teletraan stores. It lets you choose exactly what aspects of your weapons you want to improve, which can contribute to helping you choose your play style.
Fall of Cybertron’s campaign is very short, with only 13 levels that will last you anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes each. I was able to finish the campaign in less than 5 hours. To add insult to injury, the co-op mode from the original game has been scrapped this time around. Despite that, FOC does offer good multiplayer options. Don’t expect to be blown away by its originality, but the traditional Deathmatch, CTF, Headhunter, and Conquest modes can definitely keep you busy for hours after you’ve beaten the campaign. The modes are well balanced and the servers are populated enough to make them worth playing. Even more interesting is the ever-popular Escalation mode, which is basically another clone of Gears of War’s Horde mode. No matter how many developers add this multiplayer option to their selection, I never seem to grow tired of trying to survive the waves upon waves of enemies with friends; it’s truly a blast to play.
In terms of presentation, this Transformers title really shines. While War for Cybertron was criticized for its sub-par graphics, High Moon Studios have certainly taken it up a notch with this installment. Not only is the level-design much more varied and well-done, but the stunning graphics help elevate the cinematic feel of the game to a whole new level. The updated graphics do come at the price of minor and occasional framerate drops, but nothing that will truly bother you while playing. Texture pop-in, though, is very present and can be extremely distracting when you enter new environments. It can sometimes take several seconds for textures to appear, leaving you confused for a short amount of time. While the graphics are great, the sound work is equally, if not more impressive. If you’re able to play this one with 5.1 surround sound, you’ll really feel as though you were watching one of the Michael Bay movies in a theater.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron may just be the game you need to end your summer with a big, loud bang. Fans of big thrills will be impressed by the cinematic, action-packed campaign, Transformers fans will be happy to follow the engaging storyline, and multiplayer gamers can find a lot to enjoy in this latest installment. If you’re looking for a great roller coaster ride of a game, FOC will provide just that.
Release date : 2012-08-28
Publisher : Activision
Developer : High Moon Studios
Gameplay : Action
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