If you were a child in the late 80s, then chances are you have a small place in your heart for the Transformers. The Transformers were immensely popular, and it created a slew of merchandising and spin-offs that leave even veteran Transformers fans caught in a whirlwind of information. Throughout their existence, we’ve been treated to some pretty poor Transformers games, but that was until High Moon Studios came along and changed everyone’s mind about what a Transformers game could really be. They started with the 2010 hit game Transformers: War for Cybertron, which took players back to the beginning of the franchise and served as a prequel to the first cartoon series we all grew up with. Now, High Moon Studios continues its saga with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Can High Moon Studios continue its success, or does the sophomore effect fall short? Read on and let’s find out.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron immediately follows the events of the last game and continues the story up until the fall of Cybertron, hence the name. The final outcome of the game isn’t a surprise since we know the Transformers eventually end up on Earth; but, until now, how they get there remained a mystery. However, since we already know how the story begins and ends, the impact of the story takes a major hit. This game is really more of a love letter to the fans than a brand new experience. This certainly doesn’t make it a bad game – because the truth is quite the contrary – but those with high expectations that this is the game that is going to change the franchise or the genre in some meaningful way should hedge their bets. What you should expect is a very competent game with lots of action and a nice, steady pacing that will definitely keep you entertained. However, if you are a fan of the show, you’ll be showered with exciting references, appearances from your favorite characters, and a Transformers game that does a nice job of following up what was, arguably, the best Transformers video game to date.
From a technical aspect, this game is up to the standards of this generation. The graphics are good, the character models look accurate, and the cut scenes do a nice job of keeping the gamer engaged in the story, especially when you consider how much action goes on at any time. It is impressive that there aren’t more technical problems with the game to speak about. Things aren’t always sunny on the Playstation version, but the game is certainly presentable. However, there is one complaint that should be noted. In most current games, levels are pre-loaded so, as you move forward, you don’t encounter any additional loading screens. In Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, not all the levels are pre-loaded, so on a few occasions you’ll have an additional pause for loading. Thankfully, it isn’t for very long and you’ll be quickly put back into the game. This is one of those little nuisances that can easily be avoided and why this wasn’t taken care of beforehand is questionable. Regardless, the game looks great and does the storied franchise justice, so there shouldn’t be any more complaints on that front.
What this game really manages to capture and capitalize on is atmosphere. As you traverse the environments, you see Cybertron in a state of decay. The sky is burnt and landscapes look scarred. You really get the sense that some bad things went down here, which makes “The Fall of Cybertron” more than just a title; it’s a state of being. The characters you play as take a central role in this metamorphosis, and the transition from one to the other is smooth and engaging. The battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons epitomizes the fight between good and evil, and, luckily, this game does a nice job conveying that to the gamer. Atmospherically, this game is second to none.
Gameplay wise, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron mixes it up quite a bit. Most of the game is played as a third-person shooter, but there are times that the game will switch to a vehicle combat perspective. It will then switch over to a rail shooter, over again to a stealth shooter, and back again. It is not to say that any of these gameplay mechanics aren’t fun in their own right, but it seems to introduce a little too much to the player. It would have been better to expand upon the mechanics of one type of element to give the player a chance to master the controls. Doing this would allow the story to take the forefront rather than the mechanics, which get in the way and steepen the learning curve. It is a shame, because the game has an excellent story and it would have been better presented in a different environment.
In addition to the frequent shifts in gameplay, the characters you play as also shift quite frequently. You will be introduced to a number of different characters and play as about a dozen of the more popular ones. This is great for fans of the series, but newcomers will have a hard time following the frantic pace. If you have no idea who Bumblebee or Grimlock are, it is definitely advisable to read up on the Transformers lore. For veterans of the franchise, you’ll be able to follow the pace, but even so, you play as each character for such a short period of time that you’ll have a hard time building a connection to any one in particular. Creating such a disconnect between the player and the character is dangerous, considering that much of the success of the game is based on that dynamic.
This game does have a multiplayer mode, but, unfortunately, the co-op elements have been removed. It is a shame since Transformers: War for Cybertron was more dynamic and interesting with a friend. Despite the loss of co-op, High Moon Studios‘ take on horde mode has been included, and it is quite a bit of fun. Up to four different people have to fight off 15 waves of enemies, each more powerful than the last. There are also your traditional online modes, including team deathmatch, capture the flag, and conquest. In these modes, you have the ability to choose a character that has different jobs on the battlefield. Whether you prefer to rain death from above or plow through defenses as a bullet sponge, you’ll have the ability to play as either. The multiplayer is a fun addition, especially if you enjoyed the multiplayer experience in War for Cybertron.
Overall, this is another excellent effort from the team at High Moon Studios. The game pays homage to the franchise while providing an action-packed campaign with a capable online component. While this game may be difficult to recommend to non-Transformers fans, it is a must-have for fans. There are a few problems here and there which hold this title back from the higher echelons of gaming greatness, but there shouldn’t be anything presented in this game that would make this unplayable or not enjoyable. We completely enjoyed our time with this game and we are sure you will too.
This review is based off a review copy of the Playstation 3 version of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron developed by High Moon Studios published by Activision