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August 23, 2012

The Comics Console: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

Transformers fans have a lot of rightful gripes toward Micheal Bay and his Transformers movies, many of which I’ll agree with, be it mishandling of the Transformers mythology or simply garbage quality movies. One aspect of the Bay Transformers I personally really appreciate is the scope of which a Transformers story can be told, and High Moon Studios latches onto that beautifully. However, with Fall of Cybertron the basics of creating a really great game play experience are lost in those ideals.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Publisher: Activision
Developer: High Moon Studios
Released: Aug. 21, 2012
Platforms: Xbox, PS3
ESRB: Teen

Spinning off of 2010’s Transformers: War for Cybertron, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron tells the story of exactly what’s in the title. The Cybertronia main-players that you recognize are all back, along with a few other favorites, as well as the third-person shooting fundamentals of the last game mixed with more emphasis on cover. Right from the opening cinematic of this game, I was blown away. The mass of this game’s world is immediately impressive, but unfortunately, it’s quickly spoiled by your first mission as Autobot leader Optimus Prime. Once you’re in control, the pace of the game drops astoundingly. Players of the last game will be comfortable with the controls, and there is combat to be had, but on a very beginner level. It takes at least a good hour into this game to really pick up momentum.

This trend continues all throughout the campaign. Once the game hits its stride, it has a very bad habit of taking several steps back by interrupting action with chore missions like flipping switches, or getting to a cutscene too early. The cutscenes in this game are absolutely fantastic, but it’s a climax that occurs before you can enjoy ride. It’s like the developers made a really great CG Transformers film and tried to stick a video game between the cracks.

Fall of Cybertron is by no means a bad game, mind you. There is a lot to enjoy here, like the broad action from the last game, some stealth elements, and Jazz’s awesome grappling gameplay. Personally, I had a blast rampaging as Grimlock whenever I could. And some of the more open levels have you in intense battle constantly shifting from robot to vehicle mode, which really gives you that feeling of truly being a Transformer. But there are a lot of moments in the experience that feel rushed or lazy. This won’t spoil anything about the story, but the final battle consists of hitting a single button. From the gameplay perspective, it’s unbelievably anticlimactic and a real downer.

Megatron! Terroriz — wait…no. That's Beast Wars. Sorry.

The story mode this time around is single player only, but there is much fun to be had in multiplayer. The game modes are very basic, resembling everything you’ve seen in a shooter over the last three years, but the real treat in multiplayer is customization. You can recreate your favorite Autobots and Decepticons, or create your own in great detail, and there are tons of weapons and upgrades to play with.

Visually, the game is a sensory explosion, and I loved every detail of it. Background designs are polished and you can see the work put into creating them. The sense of a planet fatigued by war is palpable, and there is always a lingering theme of never ending chaos. The sound effects and score are action movie quality, and the company of a truly aged Peter Cullen adds a few ideas to the game that recent Transformers fans will find very interesting.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron was a deeply unique play through for me. I can’t really think of another example of a game that was absolutely superb until I actually had to play it. All the complaints I had about War for Cybertron were addressed in this game, but in turn, High Moon created just as many problems as they solved. Hopefully the third time is the charm in this case. And seriously, Activision, can we get a Linkin Park song for these games, please?

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Andrew Hurst



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