Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
- Street Date:
- August 21st, 2012
- Reviewed by:
- Daniel Hirshleifer
- Review Date:1
- September 17th, 2012
- Game Release Year:
- High Moon Studios
- ESRB Rating:
- T (Teen)
IntroductionWhen I was a kid, there were a few franchises that I was all about. One was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; another was Star Wars. There was Ghostbusters, and up near the top of the heap was Transformers. As an adult looking back, it was clear that Transformers existed solely to sell toys. That being said, there's a certain nostalgic innocence through which I can view those giant robots that makes me think of them as something more. However, as I encounter Transformers products these days, it helps to remember that a product is exactly what they are. This was never a series that aspired to be high art. Transformers: The Fall of Cybertron is just such a product. It's designed to separate you from your money.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
To be fair, all video games are products, but as I played Fall of Cybertron, I couldn't help but feel like this was completely by-the-numbers. For the most part, the game plays out as a third person shooter, although it does attempt to mix things up. You can transform into your character's vehicle at any point, but for the most part you'll be running around on foot. The game is at its weakest when you play as Optimus Prime, who hulks around with some heavy artillery. You'll get various goals, many of which boil down to kill some enemies, then stand still and press a button. And while the combat is clearly modeled after games like Gears of War, Fall of Cybertron is missing the vital mechanic of allowing you to take cover. Instead, you have to hide behind walls and debris, then run out, shoot as much as you can, and retreat again to let your shields recover. It's frustrating and gets tiresome quickly.
Things get better once you switch away from Optimus, as each new robot plays differently, with levels designed to cater to their strengths. The highlight of this is playing as Jazz, who almost feels like a robotic Spider-Man, swinging from platform to platform effortlessly, keeping out of sight of relentless enemies hell bent on destroying you. There are also levels that take advantage of Transformers who becomes aerial vehicles, allowing you to take to the skies and rain down fire upon your enemies. Moments like this are genuinely exhilarating, but come far too infrequently. In an attempt to keep the game from getting stale, styles get switched too often, in sharp contrast to the earlier sections with Optimus.
Fall of Cybertron really heats up in its last level, which is full of so much mayhem and switches you between characters so quickly that you don't have time to catch your breath. However, even that excitement is undercut by the final boss fight, which is so simplistic that it borders on the ridiculous. In many ways, the final level represents the game as a whole: Interesting ideas that sometimes soar to great heights, but are eventually dragged down by poor execution.
The game's predecessor, War for Cybertron, allowed cooperative campaign play, a feature that is missing here. However, there is a cooperative team multiplayer mode called "Escalation" that allows you and up to three others to take down increasing hordes of enemy robots. Different robots have different abilities, so an element of strategy comes into play as some players hit the front lines, while others stay in backup positions. Additionally, after each wave, you earn coins that can be used for power ups, or expanding the field of play, etc. You have to make sure to balance your own needs against those of your teammates, because the coins are not unlimited and the choice to beef up your own character comes at the expense of bonuses that aid the whole group.
Competitive multiplayer is more standard, with straight death matches, or a capture the flag variant. The fun here is that the maps are big enough to take advantage of vehicle modes, so you're not stuck running and gunning. You can transform into a juggernaut machine and try to mow down your enemies, or take to the skies to attack competitors from above. The big problem here comes from lag.
Sadly, online lag is not the only technical issue to plague Fall of Cybertron. Textures are muddy, pixelation is evident, the game pauses to load in the middle of levels, and sometimes freezes up completely. I have a feeling this was designed for the Xbox 360 and then ported to the PS3, because reportedly many of these problems are not on the 360 version.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
As mentioned above, the game suffers from a series of technical issues that affect the image quality. In particular, blurry textures, especially when the action gets really fast and furious, make things difficult to see. However, when things look good, they look very good. Cybertron is depicted as a crumbling, war-torn planet, with rotting edifices and smoking debris strewn about the landscape. The robot designs should surprise no one, unless your only exposure to Transformers is through the dreadful Michael Bay movies.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The audio is generally very good, with plenty of explosions, gun shots, mechanical whirring, and so forth. The highlight is the bevy of talented and experienced voice actors. Peter Cullen once again reprises his role as Optimus Prime, in a performance that never gets old. He's not the only heavyweight, though, with Nolan North (aka Nathan Drake in Uncharted), Jim Ward, Fred Tatasciore, and many others voicing the dueling robots.
Once you finish the single player campaign, there is no reason to go through it again, so all the replay factor comes from the multiplayer modes. And while they're certainly fun enough, there are more compelling games out there to waste your time on.
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