Developer: High Moon Studios, Mercenary Technology (PC port)
Release Date: August 21st, 2012
Available on: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Xbox 360. There may be differences between versions.
In 2010 we saw the release of Transfomers: War for Cybertron, a surprisingly decent release that managed to become one of the best Transformer games on the market. The 2012 follow-up, Fall of Cybertron, comes back and improves a lot of the things that made War for Cybertron a good game, even if it stumbles a little bit.
Taking place after the events of War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron opens up with Bumblebee taking a shot for Optimus Prime, a suitably dramatic introduction sequence for the game. As he lays dying the game flashes back to the week leading up to this event. It chronicles the Autobot’s effort to build a ship called the Ark and escape to Earth, while the Decepticons try to stop them and get to Earth themselves. It’s enjoyable and does a great job adding some drama to the game, though it suffers from having a cast that is, quite simply, way too large. Bumblebee, despite his extremely critical role in the game, only really shows up for that one scene. A big deal in the advertisements for the game was made about Metroplex, who’s in the game for a total of thirty minutes, and the Dinobots, who don’t show up until the last hour. If you have a favorite there’s a good chance they’re here, just that they’re probably relegated to a single line and nothing more.
Fall of Cybertron is your normal third person shooter, though it does have a few twists on the regular elements. At any point you can switch between your regular form and your vehicle form. Both forms have special abilities and unique weapons that can be utilized. I was actually surprised to find that no special ability felt genuinely useless. Cliffjumper and Starscream can cloak to stealth kill enemies, Jazz can use his grappling hook to zip around the levels, Vortex has a shockwave that kills nearby enemies, while Soundwave can deploy Laserbeak and Rumble to help him. As a vehicle you get greater mobility at a cost of often more finicky or weaker weapons. Levels that let you fly are particularly neat as they often have large areas for you to explore and tackle as you wish.
The game also isn’t afraid to break the action up here or there. A couple times you get control over Bruticus, a giant Decepticon robot that lets you just tear through the Autobot’s line. It’s not difficult, but it’s really fun to just go on a rampage. Late in the game you also get to play as Grimlock, which turns the game more into a hack ‘n slash instead of a shooter. It’s a welcome change to vary up the gameplay. You’ll see usual third person shooter stuff too like turret segments and escape sequences. All of it manages to be fun, so I can’t say I wasn’t satisfied about any of that. It’s all pretty well made. That said, all the added cinematic moments and more open levels come with the major drawback that co-op has been removed from the campaign, which is a bit of a bummer.
The game also features a good chunk of weapons available for you to use, and each weapon features multiple upgrades. Every time you kill an enemy you get money that you can then spend on upgrades. Some of the weapons are pretty creative too, like a saw blade throwing gun that can ricochet off walls and floors. Another gun corrupts enemies and makes them fight for you. All of it sounds great on paper, but comes to a pretty big flaw: there’s a few guns that are just simply too useful. The generic assault rifle will probably be your go-to when you need to actually kill enemies because it does so quickly and effectively. The riot cannon you get late into the game is so hilariously over powered that once you get it there’s no point in using any other gun. If your force yourself to ignore a few over powered options then there are some neat weapons, but there’s no real reason to ever use them.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron also has a few online modes. You can play competitively against other plays in team deathmatch, capture the flag, and a few other modes. There’s also a 4 player co-op survival mode called Escalation. Unfortunately my Xbox Live Gold account was gone when I played this game so I did not have the chance to play either mode.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the go-to game for Transformer fans. The removal of the co-op campaign sucks and the weapons could have used some balance, but overall the gameplay wins out and this third person shooter really is more than meets the eye.