|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Dev: High Moon|
|Release: August 21, 2012|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
I've never been a big fan of the Transformers line of video games. In fact, I never thought they were a good idea in the first place. Their sloppy mechanics, glitch systems, and laughable stories made me feel like everything I loved in my childhood was being torn apart for the sake of a cheap cash-in. So when Transformers: Fall of Cybertron came out, I was a little less than enthusiastic.
Well, color me surprised, because Fall of Cybertron is actually a halfway decent game. It still falls into a couple of the licensed game pitfalls, and I take issue with more than a few design choices, but unlike other Transformers titles, this one didn't make we want to cry into my vintage Optimus Prime lunchbox.
The game tells the story of, appropriately enough, the fall of Cybertron. It essentially recaps the horrible war between the Autobots and Decepticons and chronicles their eventual journey to Earth. This isn't a topic covered in other Transformers media, and it certainly isn't a topic covered by the recent Michael Bay movies (thank God). So playing Transformers: Fall of Cybertron actually feels like something fresh and new.
Not only that, but the story of Fall of Cybertron is surprisingly dark. It covers topics like morality during war time, honor on the battlefield, and coming to grips with the death of a homeland and an entire people. Granted, it still has all the silliness you'd expect to see on a Transformers property, and it's admittedly hard to get too emotionally involved in a story about giant transforming robots, but the storytelling has certainly improved. It brings back feelings of the classic 80s Transformers movie, so much so that at points I was tempted to break out singing "You've Got The Touch!"
You get to see the story from both sides of the conflict, controlling both Autobots and Decepticons. Your character changes for each mission, and each character controls different from the next. For example, Grimlock transforms into a giant T-Rex using a unique rage mechanic. Unlike the rest of the Autobots and Decepticons who are far more gun-based, Grimlock is almost entirely melee-based. There are characters that are better at range or up close, characters that are better as robots or vehicles, even characters that can stealthily sneak around and take opponents out covertly. Character variety has greatly expanded from the game's predecessor, War for Cybertron. You'll even be able to take control of Bruticus, the combined form of the Combaticons.
While this character variety is awesome, essentially being shoehorned into your character choice does get a little annoying. Since the characters control so differently, you may find yourself getting stuck at certain parts of the game just because you can't get one character's combat style through your head. You won't find your progress hindered too often because of this, mostly because the game is easier than War for Cybertron, but you will find yourself coming up on a couple of unfortunate stumbling blocks here and there.
Of course, what would a Transformers game be without the ability to transform? Here, Fall of Cybertron does not disappoint. Most of the time, you can transform into your vehicle form whenever you like, and this is required to reach certain points in the game. The driving segments actually feel faster than they did in War for Cybertron, and the controls feel like they handle slightly better, though you still may find yourself taking corners too quickly or too sloppily at times.
Flying around as a Decepticon is probably the most fun the game has to offer. The aerial freedom and ability to attack enemies from the skies is just too much fun. It doesn't matter if you are evil. Starscream forever! That being said, when the robots go back into robot mode, they still fall prey to one of War for Cybertron's biggest downsides: They feel slow. Granted, giant lumbering robots should feel slow, to an extent, but in a video game they just feel unresponsive. Luckily, as I said before, Fall of Cybertron is easier than War for Cybertron, so this doesn't affect gameplay all that much. In the end, the controls are competent enough to get you through the game.
The stage design in Fall of Cybertron is quite astounding. Each mission is tailored directly to the robot that you will be controlling. For example, Cliffjumper is more based around stealth, and, as a result, his level has a very claustrophobic feel to it. Jazz has a grappling hook, and so his areas are more wide open and platform-based.