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Transformers: War for Cybertron is an awesome third-person shooter and is one of those games that can be enjoyed by those that don’t even follow or care for the franchise. It’s got plenty of action, explosions, it can be enjoyed with friends, and it’s just an overall fun game to play. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the sequel, released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in August, 2012. High Moon Studios developed the console versions and Mercenary Technology developed the PC version which is what I played for this review. This, along with other Transformers games, was pulled from digital stores a while ago and I was ready to hunt down a console version but I found a Steam code on Amazon so I bought it and it activated without issue.
The plot basically continues from from where War for Cybertron left off. The Autobots fled the planet Cybertron on the Ark and now must defend it from Decepticon forces. They set out on a quest to find Grimlock with the hope he can assist them and the along they way they discover and harvest a ton of energon before engaging the Decepticons who arrive to take it. The Decepticons face their own internal problems after Starscream takes over as leader of the faction. The war between the Autobots and Decepticons rages on with numerous set pieces, chaotic battles, and even some dramatic moments. The tone of the game leans a bit towards the serious side and sometimes I wished it would lighten up a little but, ultimately, I did enjoy the plot. There is some humorous dialogue and banter peppered throughout the campaign and the game features some excellent voice talent like Nolan North, Troy Baker, Steve Blum, and the iconic Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime.
Fall of Cybertron plays like a typical modern third-person shooter except it there’s no cover system. Unfortunately, you cannot select a character before playing through a mission like you could in the previous game. The missions will force you to play as specific characters and you’ll get to play as characters from both factions. The basic mechanics established in War for Cybertron have been carried over and refined. Each character can walk, run, sprint, dash, perform a melee attack, switch firing hands, and transform into something whether it be vehicles, aircraft, or something else. Taking damage drains your shield and then your health. Your shield will regenerate but you’ll need to find Energon cubes to restore health. Each character has their own ability which needs to cool down after use. You’ll get to command artillery strikes, grapple around areas, and unleash a shockwave to decimate enemies nearby, among other different abilities.
Each character can equip two weapons – primary and heavy – when on-foot and their transformations have their own primary weapons. Standard and heavy ammo can be found throughout the environments along with shards which are also dropped by fallen enemies. Shards can be spent at Stores on T.E.C.H., perks, and weapon upgrades like increased ammo, decreased reload time, faster reloading, and other typical stuff you’ve probably seen in other shooters. Perks include things like faster movement speed, increased vehicle damage, reduced cost of equipment, and other things along those lines. Shards can also be spent to unlock the numerous Armory Recreators scattered throughout the environments which house Cybertronian weaponry. There’s a lot of weapons to mess around with and the upgrades do make a noticeable difference. And it’s a great way to encourage players to try new weapons and mix things up. I really enjoy blowing enemies away with the Riot Cannon, obliterating them with the X18 Scrapmaker, and corroding them with the Corrosive Slime Cannon. The tech you can find or buy are all one-time use items or consumables that will aid you in combat. You can use offensive items like attack drones, thermo mines, and dimensional decimators to kill enemies and you can consume things like an energon recharger intercooler which temporarily speeds up the cool down of your ability, among others.
If you thought the gameplay in War for Cybertron became repetitive after a while, that’s definitely been rectified here. The gameplay is a bit more diverse. However, the missions do force you into many scripted events and sequences. You’ll take down anti-aircraft weaponry, escort a bomb, escape areas, and you’ll get to play as massive robots that can pulverize any foe with ease. The roster of enemies is pretty varied, more so than in the previous game anyway, and this time around there’s a lack of boss battles. You’ll face unique tough types every so often but that’s about it. If you want to consider those boss battles, then so be it. And the final battle is very underwhelming. You’ll engage the typical robots that shoot at you, throw grenades, and fire rockets and you’ll also get to fend off hordes of Insecticons. Leapers are large and fast, they can jump high in the air and slam onto the ground, unleashing a shockwave, but can easily be taken down if you can target their backs. There’s a stealth mission where you play as Cliffjumper and you’re encouraged to use his cloak ability to sneak up on and execute enemies or just sneak passed them. But Guardians can make things a bit more difficult by being able to spot you even when you’re cloaked. Then they enter battle mode and will attack you relentlessly. Wall Crawlers are sniping enemies that will fly around and try to pick you off from a distance. Each mission throws something new at you whether it’s new enemies or ways to engage them and it keeps the gameplay from becoming stale.
I am very happy to say the environments are far more diverse than those in the predecessor. You’ll engage enemies on the Ark, the Sea of Rust, and on a massive energon transport. The environments are linear overall with markers on your HUD that show where to go or what to do but exploring can yield benefits. Audio logs which provide some backstory and lore are scattered around and act as a form of collectibles as are weapon blueprints which unlock new weapons for purchase in the store. Battles will take place in both wide open areas and tight and confined spaces and most areas allow you to transform, giving you the freedom to engage enemies however you see fit.
There is a multiplayer component but I didn’t find anyone playing any of the modes online. You can team up with other players in the game’s Escalation mode and since I couldn’t find anyone online, I played it solo. Just like Escalation in War for Cybertron, the goal is to survive waves of enemies. You can select a difficulty and map which determines your faction. Before the match starts, you select a character, and they each have different abilities. The enemies come in waves and each kill rewards you with money that can be spent on weapons, equipment, health, ammo, traps, and to open doors. You do have lives and if you lose a life you’ll respawn, but the wave will restart, at least when playing solo. Even on easy, Escalation can be difficult. You’ll need to practice and memorize the maps and where everything is to succeed. You really need to play with others to get the most out of it. Regardless, if you like running around shooting at robots, Escalation can be a lot of fun.
Fall of Cybertron looks much better than it’s predecessor and the visually diverse environments keep the presentation from becoming boring. Everything is vibrant and colorful, there’s a lot of detail, the texture work is well done, explosions and smoke look glorious, parts of the environments will break apart from projectiles and explosions, and being surrounded by just balls-to-the-wall-action can be quite the spectacle. The action is accompanied by a memorable soundtrack consisting of rock and some dramatic tunes that convey the more serious tone of the plot. The sound effects are excellent. The weapons fire, explosions, robots screaming in agony – it all sounds great. Every battle feels and sounds like a war zone. Sadly, you cannot change the controls but the game does run at sixty frames. I did encounter a couple of issues. At one point a cut scene failed to load and the game crashed on me once.
I had a great time with Fall of Cybertron but it is unfortunate that the campaign doesn’t support coop and I do miss having the option of multiple characters per mission. These are just some of the reasons why War for Cybertron was so replayable. But from a gameplay standpoint, I think Fall of Cybertron is the better game. And it’s certainly a memorable game. The set pieces and events can be very exciting and the final set of chapters are easily the most badass and awesome. However, it feels like the developers were aiming for a more cinematic experience and as a result, some sequences can be more fun to watch than to play at times. Being able to transform and watching giant robots destroy each other is really what makes this game stand out. And, luckily, that makes up most of the experience and it’s a lot of fun.
I would absolutely recommend Fall of Cybertron to fans of the previous game, franchise, or action games. Compared to its predecessor, it does feel more streamlined, for lack of a better word, and it really didn’t need to be. War for Cybertron’s biggest issue is a lack of diversity but the action and gameplay are solid. The issue was rectified here but at what feels like the cost of coop and character selection which appears to be an attempt at a more focused campaign. It’s got some issues but, ultimately, Fall of Cybertron is a great game and I would highly suggest you check it out.