In 2010 High Moon Studios did the seemingly impossible, they made a good video game featuring the robots in disguise, helping to eradicate the memories of the childhood shattering Michael Bay movies and the games based upon them. War for Cybertron was critically well received, and did very well for the studio and its publisher Activision. Therefore you’d be forgiven for approaching the follow up with some trepidation, given the publisher’s trend for demanding studios churn out a sequel as quickly as possible.
However, although High Moon have kept the core structure of their previous title, they’ve tweaked, polished and innovated, adding some new gameplay elements to the mix
Set on the now completely war ravaged Cybertron, you play through the campaign as various Autobots and Decepticons, but unlike the first game, you don’t get to select your favourite wrecking machine in advance. Each level is tailored around specialist skills from Jazz’s grappling hook to Cliffjumper’s stealth cloaking.
Like its predecessor, Fall of Cybertron is primarily a third-person shooter featuring an array of weapons for you to choose from. Cybertronian versions of assault rifles and shotguns for dismantling your typical foot soldier-bot and heavier weapons in the form of massive sniper rifles and rocket launchers for the trickier foes. Each weapon is unlockable and upgradable as you progress through the game, carrying over between characters regardless of their allegiance in the war, and although this system is pretty limited, being able to go on the rampage with Megatron’s riot cannon is great fun.
Fall of Cybertron also features multiplayer as you’d expect. The excellent Escalation mode from the first game returns, where you and up to three friends can “roll out” against 15 waves of increasingly difficult robots hell bent on your destruction, whilst trying to complete challenges across the varied array of maps, unlocking weapons and equipment as you go. There is also the usual competitive offerings from team deathmatch to capture the flag. Anyone who has played any other shooter online will instantly be familiar with the set-up, although the ability to transform into your vehicle form and high tail it across the battlefield does add an extra element of fun you can’t find anywhere else.
One major omission, however, is the ability to play the campaign in co-op. It was, after all, one of War for Cybertron’s most popular features. High Moon’s decision to concentrate on developing the levels around specific characters does pay off though. Normally a more focused, linear experience such as this would be lambasted, but Fall of Cybertron really does offer enough variety in its gameplay styles to keep you interested throughout. Cliffjumper’s section, for example, can be played completely stealthily, cloaking and silently dismantling your foes. Meanwhile playing as Jetfire or Starscream offers the ability to fly around the environments. And there’s plenty more too, including commanding the simply massive Metroplex and reeking havok as the destruction happy Grimlock.
The game is also visually stunning, most notably the cut scenes which are strikin,g and even though the Unreal Engine 3 its built upon does show its age in places, it handles the various locations across the dying planet gloriously and in great detail. The sound stands out too, every groan of twisted metal and explosive blast really comes through even on low volumes. The voice cast, many of whom are from the animated series including Peter Cullen who voices Optimus Prime just as he has in the series and Michael Bay’s popcorn extravaganzas, really do bring depth to the characters, even if it’s a bit cheesey in places, and there’s the seemingly mandatory Nolan North appearance as he voices several main characters.
Fall of Cybertron is a worthy sequel to High Moon’s breakthrough last time out. The intense combat and mix of new mechanics into the previously successful formula manages to keep it fresh yet familiar at the same time. New elements are un-intrusive and simple controls make them easy to use if you choose, but ultimately the lack of co-op this time around is disappointing. Multiplayer is good fun, especially the, once again excellent, escalation mode, however it may have trouble establishing itself amongst some of the upcoming big hitters, so roll out and enjoy it whilst you can.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3/ PC Release Date: 24/08/2012
Disclosure: BlueWolf purchased Transformers: Fall of Cybertron . The title was reviewed over the course of five days on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.