June 9, 2010 - The talented team at High Moon Studios are huge Transformers fans, and it shows. Not just content to take an original story inspired by the classic, early days of the series' canon, the team's work on War for Cybertron is without a doubt a homage to all things Autobots and Decepticons. CCC recently had a chance to sit down with High Moon's Rob Burns and Matt Tieger, Lead Sound Designer and Game Director on War for Cybertron, to find out what went into the making of this great new Transformers title.
CCC: How have you made War for Cybertron's focus on transforming rather than just making it another third-person shooter?
HMS: Well, you can transform at any time - the only time you can't transform is when you're in the middle of a transform [laughs]. But, you can transform whenever you want. I think as far as the design goes, it's really geared toward [being able to] transform into a car or a jet, [then] you rocket in, blast some dudes away, and then get out. And there's a lot of areas that are set up with that; with plenty of space that'll allow you to do that. You can also combo with a lot of the abilities - one of my favorite things to do is playing as one of the jets that have the shockwave ability. You fly in as a jet and drop right in the middle of a big group of dudes and use the shockwave - it'll knock all five, six, eight of them back. And then fly right out of there, get out of their way and then you can kind of clean up the pieces. So there's lots of areas in the game that lend themselves naturally to using the transform.
CCC: Are there any parts of the game that are more vehicular-based rather than action-based, like racing segments?
HMS: There are definitely sections where you're encouraged to use your vehicle. We might refer to them as driving sections when we're making the game, but any time you can decide to run the level if you want. A lot of those will have enemies along the way, so if you want to transform out and kill those enemies [you can] if that's how you like to play. That's how I like to play, I like to kill everybody. So I'll transform out in the middle of the highway and kill a bunch of dudes and then transform back and continue on. But, there are sections to break up the gunplay that are geared more towards 'speed along this' and, you know, hit these big jumps across the levels.
CCC: This question is for Matt - what was the impetus for using a Gears of War-style third-person shooter design on War for Cybertron, as compared to the more straightforward action design of past Transformers games?
HMS: The goal was to make a great shooter that just happened to be a Transformers game. The team never wanted to make the best Transformers game ever, we wanted to make a great shooter, and controls are central to that choice. What we did was look at what the best in the world is. I believe the best third-person action shooter controls is [in] Gears, and we took a lot of draw from that. What we really wanted to do was if I had played Gears before I could grab the controller and it would feel totally comfortable. Now I can spend my time thinking about transformation, the vehicles, the abilities, and skills. But, if you don't know anything about third-person shooters, or maybe you're a big Transformers fan but haven't played many third-person action shooters, the reason those controls are what they are is because they're the best and they're uber-tested and you will learn them very quickly.
CCC: So, is there any cover shooting in the game?
HMS: We don't have a cover system. You can certainly move out of the way behind some objects and deflect damage, but much more of Transformers is to create a forcefield that creates cover for you, or turn into your vehicle and flank the enemy. When you think about the fact that you have access to a jet, for example, at a quarter-second, the concept of flanking enemies completely changes. We are really navigation-based - speed, agility, and abilities. So, you can create cover with some of the forcefield abilities, you can turn invisible, and you can use those vehicles to get around. There's a whole bunch of different kinds of tactics you use. Cover just didn't make sense for all the other things we wanted to do.
CCC: That's probably a good thing - there's a lot of cover shooters out there.
HMS: [Laughs]. The other thing was, I just can't see Megatron taking cover. It's just not him. Who's the guy from Apocalype Now, when everybody else takes cover, he's just standing there? That's Megatron. He's not going to take cover. So, it didn't fit theme-wise, either.
CCC: What can longtime Transformers fans expect to see from War for Cybertron?
HMS: They can expect to see tons of their favorite characters [and] Cybertron in all its glory, [since] all the different areas you get to go to look awesome. From Iacon, to Kaon, to the orbital debris fields that surround the planet, to the underground, down to the core. You get to see tons of great Transformers and awesome destruction. [There is also] a kick-ass soundtrack, and it's just a great ride. There's also full multiplayer with multiple game modes with character customization.