Transformers: Fall of Cybertron review (Xbox 360)
Solid nuts ‘n bolts third-person shooter, or a game with a few screws loose?
Rarely does a video game based on a successful franchise in other media inspire the gaming community. Unfortunately there have been too many examples of developers dragging a cartoon or movie’s reputation through the mud by making what is unmistakably a terrible game. Luckily, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is not one of those lamentable games.
Fall of Cybertron is the sequel to Transformers: War for Cybertron; the story follows a civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons on their home planet – Cybertron. Almost everyone is familiar with the general animosity Autobots and Decepticons have for each other, and this game does a good job of pitting the two against one another in intense battles. Without giving anything away, the story is not just a neglected excuse for a robotic free-for-all. Transformers fans will know what the outcome of the story is, but to have it told in game format is quite exciting.
Dramatic cutscenes are used to narrate the story, and it’s quite apparent that the developers took some tips from Michael Bay in terms of grand scale. Beyond the entertaining cutscenes, the overall graphic quality is impressive. Considering the source material and scale of most Transformers projects, they could easily have gone visually overboard, but just about everything feels like it has relevance and helps the story progress. That said, people looking for city destroying explosions and robots beating the circuits out of each other won’t be disappointed in the least.
The game has a very basic A-to-B structure, putting the player in the shoes of both Autobots and Decepticons. Characters are quite varied in terms of their abilities, with fan favorites like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Starscream, and Megatron making appearances. The rest of the cast consists of perhaps less well known characters, but ones that are eager to win themselves some fans.
Both the score and the voice acting deserve a lot of credit, and Fall of Cybertron has put together quite a dramatic score for the cutscenes. General gameplay is accompanied by electronic background music, setting up an appropriate atmosphere without interfering or becoming obnoxious. A solid score has been paired with very convincing voice actors – the perennially active Nolan North even adds his considerable experience to the cast. Engaging dialogue adds a lot to the overall experience, witty exchanges and dramatically sinister monologues combine to establish a very cinematic quality.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, it’s a testament to the developers’ effort to make everything of above average quality. A whole host of Autobots and Decepticons are playable, each with a unique ability, ranging from temporary invisibility to marking areas for a skyscraper-sized Autobot to shower with rockets. These abilities generally dictate what the level will be focusing on; anything from aerial combat to stealth-centered sneaking comes up.
There is sufficient development in terms of weapons and abilities. Stations scattered across levels allow you to view and select weapons from the arsenal you’ve collected. Currency obtained from destroying enemies can be used to purchase perks, upgrade current weapons, and buy new ones.
The level designs will be familiar to anyone that has played Mech games before; sprawling environments with relatively few interactive elements, besides the robots you’re engaging. Fall of Cybertron has the sprawling environments, but combines it effectively with interactive objectives inside buildings. Unfortunately, using most Transformers’ vehicle forms is only really necessary when long distances need to be covered, and only near the end of the game does it become useful in battle scenarios.
An extensive multiplayer gives the game some serious longevity, and is separated into two broad categories. “Multiplayer” offers four game modes; team death match; capture the flag; conquest; and “head-hunter”, which is basically a free-for-all. Essentially all the popular modes are covered. Players can spawn as one of four classes, each with their own weapons, abilities, and roles to play. These classes can be levelled up and the weapons upgraded much the same way as in the campaign. Settings like private matches and server selection are included, indicating that the online component was more than a simple afterthought. Matchmaking was surprisingly quick, with players being available around the clock.
The second multiplayer mode is called Escalation; the Transformers equivalent of the popular horde mode. Increasingly difficult waves of enemies are released, and points earned from destroying them can be redeemed for abilities, buying weapons, or used for upgrades at stations found after a number of waves. The inclusion of both Multiplayer and Escalation adds a huge amount of fan service and replayability.
The game isn’t without minor faults; two or three times the frame rate would plummet during intense action, but not for long enough to really detriment the gameplay. Some people might find the quick jumps to different bots disruptive, but too much choice is better than a one dimensional approach in this case.
Some developers that base their game on an already popular brand make a substandard product and expect the game’s popularity to sell itself. High Moon Studios could easily have gone that route, but instead provided an impressive campaign and a well developed and involving multiplayer. The overall quality, even outside the consideration that it’s a Transformers game, is commendable and solid. Transformers fans should be quite pleased that Fall of Cybertron is an ambassador for the brand, the experience leaves many third-person titles firmly in its wake.