Review by horror_spooky

"You've got the touch!"

I hated War for Cybertron. Everyone told me how awesome High Moon Studio's first Transformers game was, and how it paid brilliant homage to the 80s cartoon series. As a major fan of The Transformers, I came away from War for Cybertron bitter and disappointed when I discovered that it was a glorified Call of Duty clone with robots. Understandably, I went into Fall of Cybertron with a lot of skepticism, but came away incredibly impressed and wowed by High Moon's dedication to crafting their own well-rounded and faithful Transformers universe.

Fall of Cybertron deals with the events that lead right up to the Transformers' departure from their home planet to look for a new planet that is rich with energy, and anyone even slightly familiar with the franchise knows that they are talking about Earth. Players take control of both Autobots and Decepticons across the course of the decently lengthy, well-paced, and varied campaign, culminating in an epic conclusion that was pulled off perfectly by High Moon. The Autobots are trying to finish the Ark and leave Cybertron on it, whereas the Decepticons are tasked with destroying the Ark to prevent the Autobots from escaping.

War for Cybertron allowed players to choose their character for each level, but this hurt the narrative focus of the game. Fall of Cybertron picks each character for you, and while a bit of freedom is sacrificed, the result is a much better story. It's kind of strange fighting against things you just accomplished as the opposite side, but changing between Autobots and Decepticons is a mostly painless and cool narrative experience.

Throughout the course of the campaign, players have the chance to play as a wide variety of Transformers. Series favorites like Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Starscream, and Megatron are all included, plus lesser-known Transformers like the Combaticons and Jetfire are highlighted as well. Each level has its own feel and its own unique gameplay mechanics, making this game one of the most varied third-person shooters I've ever played in my history of playing games.

For example, one level will see you using a grappling hook with Jazz to zip around the environment and complete puzzles. Another level will see you controlling the Dinobot leader Grimlock and his melee-focused combat style. Other levels have you switching control of Transformers in the middle of the chapter, or repeatedly throughout the level, complete with the trademark flipping of the Autobot and Decepticon icons.

Fan service is plentiful in Fall of Cybertron, and I mean really plentiful. High Moon injects aspects of the Transformers lore and universe that wasn't even introduced until Beast Wars, which shows an incredible dedication to the source material that hasn't been seen since Rocksteady took over the Batman video game franchise. There are references to specific episodes of the show all over the place, as well as the animated film from the 80s.

Core gameplay in Fall of Cybertron is basically the same as War for Cybertron, but less Call of Duty-esque. Everything has more weight. Enemies take more damage, and there's a lot more strategy involved with the combat. Transforming is still a core mechanic, but I found that transforming in this game wasn't quite as responsive as the predecessor, but it's still done very well and is just as much of a visual spectacular as it was before.

Fall of Cybertron is a gorgeous game, with a ton of detail going in to each Transformer design. Every Transformer stands out brilliantly thanks to their design, and every level feels different. Yes, Cybertron is still pretty boring to look at, but at least there's variety in the environment now that couldn't be found before. Voice acting in this game is awesome, with Peter Cullen reprising his role as Optimus Prime, and a surprise song that plays during the credits that diehard fans are likely to jump out of their seat and cheer for when they hear it.

Fall of Cybertron also has a lot more variety with the enemies. There are the typical soldiers that run around, but there are now also armored Leapers, snipers that attach themselves strategically to walls, walking tanks, and swarms of Insecticons that crowd the screen dozens at a time. The frame rate in Fall of Cybertron is infinitely improved, but there is a bit of slowdown when destroying a bunch of those Insecticons at once.

Besides the main campaign, players can also enjoy two other game modes. While the multiplayer remains largely unchanged, there is now a lot more customization options. Players can customize each of the four Transformers classes as they see fit, and upgrade each class individually, outfitting them with weapons that take advantage of their specific abilities. Escalation is the new name for a horde-style mode that has been added to the game, and while it is fun, it's also just typical and adds little to the overall experience. I was also disappointed to discover that there still aren't any split-screen options for the multiplayer modes.

Fans of Transformers will find a lot to love about this game, and people that are just passingly familiar with the franchise will also be impressed. The game manages to forge High Moon's vision that much better, helping them craft their own Transformers universe that builds off of the past TV shows such as the original TV series, Beast Wars, and at one point in the campaign, Beast Machines. There is a ton of variety in the gameplay, and while the multiplayer is uninspired and lacks the charm and originality of the campaign, it is functional, fun, and active. This is a must-buy for anyone interested in Transformers, but casual shooting fans will also find a worthwhile gaming experience.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/27/12

Game Release: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (US, 08/21/12)

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