|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: High Moon Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 22, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
All of the Transformers look visually interesting and unique, and the levels themselves work around the graphic limitations of the DS by using intense combinations of colors that is, at times, superb. It takes a true artist to overcome a limited palette and create something visually striking.
However, all of those great visuals are ruined by the fact that the camera is tilted way to much towards the floor, and the floor of nearly every level just so happens to be the least visually interesting thing going on. Time and again I would enter an area, be fairly amazed by the color scheme, then the camera would reorient itself back to my characters shoes, as if the camera was manned by some anxiety-stricken introvert deathly afraid of making eye contact with someone else. I caught myself jumping a lot just to get a look at some cool futuristic structure, or look out a window at a gleaming cityscape, or to get a glimpse of a shining nebula out in space. But can you really enjoy a great view while straining to peer over a window ledge two feet above your head? This isnt the fault of the DS and its small screen; Ive played a lot of great action/adventure games on the DS in which this wasnt a problem. This is a problem concerning the gameplay guys not communicating with the art guys or the early testing guys.
The sound, however, is a slam dunk. The music is action-packed and dramatic and, while not exactly memorable, it inspired me to great acts of heroic violence on more than one occasion. The Decepticon themes are especially great; sinister cold electronica tracks perfectly highlight not only Megatrons thirst for power, but also the brutally psychotic nature of his underlings. The voice over, when it occurs, is surprisingly good. While the dialogue is of laughably rock-bottom quality, the voice work itself is done with a good deal of personality. Nobody is simply phoning in their lines. Its unfortunate that dialogue is accompanied by incredibly tiny character portraits and, while I understand that animating each and every interaction is probably impossible, some comic book-inspired artwork to go along with the voice work would have been great. As it is, the lackluster visuals alongside the great voice work make the game feel as if its still in development.
At least the DS makes that cool transforming sound when you open and shut the lid - thats something!
Now, there is the issue of how this game is being sold. One disk for the Autobots and one disk for the Decepticons means that if you want to experience both of the unique storyline perspectives concerning the battle to control Cybertron, youre going to have to buy TWO games in order to essentially play, well, ONE game. If you want to ignore all of the criticism Ive leveled at War for Cybertron, and choose only to hear the good things Ive said about the graphics and sound (which are admittedly good), then I recommend only investing in one disk, not both. I went into the experience assuming that the Decepticons would be cooler, but both sides are equally interesting in their own way. The Decepticons are admirable because its fun to lust after power, and the music is very foreboding and dark, but the Autobots are also fun to play because you get to see some character development with Optimus accepting his role as Prime, and the heroic side of the soundtrack is also enjoyable. So its not one hundred percent true that only owning one disk means owning half of the game; you can have a very complete experience by playing just one side. Not only is there a fairly lengthy campaign, theres bonus areas and characters to unlock, and each game even allows you to engage in a poorly executed ad-hoc battle with a buddy in which you both try to figure out how to effectively use the frustrating lock-on targeting system!
Kyle B. Stiff
CCC Freelance Writer