Cybertron is dying. The Autobots struggle to evacuate. The Decepticons want all the Energon. Sounds like a perfect time to TRANSFORM AND ROLL OUT!
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron continues the chronicle of the Autobot/Decepticon conflict that High Moon Studios and Activision began in 2010's Transformers: War for Cybertron. This series has triumphed where so many obligatory movie tie-ins have failed, harkening back to the G1 era in both Soundwave sound and style, pleasing your inner child of the 80s, and maintaining a scale truly deserving of a planet full of giant robots.
One Shall Stand...
For those who came in late, Fall picks up exactly where War left off, as the core of Cybertron is shutting down and the Autobots are prepping the Ark for planetary evacuation. But the Ark can't launch, much less carry an entire army to a new planet, without the Transformers' precious lifeblood, Energon. Enter Megatron and those pesky Decepticons. In a struggle as desperate as you might think, each robot faction sends their best soldiers, infiltrators, and powerhouses into the fray in order to come out on top. And you get to take control of the best of the best!
Right out of the gate, it is evident that High Moon has made a handful of broad changes. The new campaign says goodbye to the "choose-your-bot" and online co-op capabilities from the previous game, and instead, favors a more solo, plot-driven structure that throws you wheels-first into the action as characters whose unique skills are tailored to the mission at hand. Shining examples include Optimus Prime (once again voiced by the legendary Peter Cullen) commanding the Autobot behemoth, Metroplex, to unleash fiery death from above upon Decepticon forces, and Autobot scout, Cliffjumper channelling his inner Batman and sneaking through a Decepticon facility whilst making good use of a cloaking device and silent takedown techniques. "Cybertron Asylum" anyone?
Helping you to be better equipped as you navigate the chaotic battles and exploding landscapes of Cybertron is Teletraan1, an unbiased planetary network that provides the player with access to weapons (both standard and heavy), equipment, and upgrades on the battlefield. After scavenging for ammo and just the right gun for the job in War, it was a godsend to have access to a "shop" that can provide health, ammo, and anything ranging from a sniper rifle to a weapon that can temporarily switch an enemy unit's allegiance. Fall also abandons the half-and-half structure of its Perceptor predecessor, where the first five missions of War had you wreaking havoc as Decepticons and the latter half saw you fighting back as the Autobots. The new story weaves in and out of the exploits of the two sides, even switching characters within the same chapter at times. This gameplay system culminates in a spectacular final mission that frantically switches sides and characters in the middle of a massive space naval assault. 7-year-old me was giddy.
More Than Meets The Eye
The campaign, however, is not where the action stops. Not by a Longhaul long shot. There are competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes that range from your basic team deathmatch and CTF modes, to the Horde/Firefight-esque Escalation, which pits you and your teammates against waves of opposition. Like War's multiplayer system, Fall includes four classes, each getting its own specific abilities and vehicle mode. For example, the Scientist class has a heal beam and transforms into an aircraft. Like the campaign, upgrades are available by earning experience/cash for each class, which can be spent on weapons, abilities, and, oh yes, a plethora of interchangeable parts that allow you to build your own customizable Cybertronian. And, of course, for those of you who don't have the patience for earning XP, there are character-specific parts just waiting to be downloaded...for a price.
One Shall Fall...
While High Moon knows how to do justice to the Transformers, Fall of Cybertron is not without its faults. Having played the Gears of War and Mass Effect trilogies to death, one becomes accustomed to a third-person shooter having a cover system nowadays. The best one can hope for in Fall is the ability to switch your character's gun hand (and camera angle) at will. It's great when you're ducking through staggered cover in a hallway, but when you're pinned down and trying to avoid total deactivation, you just wish you could blind fire over a Barricade barrier. This however, isn't really a problem when you're playing as the walking power fantasies otherwise known as Bruticus and Grimlock. Also causing some diappointment is the unnecessary inclusion of Bumblebee's inability to speak. This frustrating feature made its debut in the first Michael Bay Transformers movie and has been perpetuated through the modern TF universe through the Bay sequels and the Transformers Prime television series. It's a true shame, since actor Johnny Yong Bosch did an excellent job voicing Bee in War for Cybertron. And for the love of Primus, High Moon, please release a patch/update! Game glitches have ranged from nonexistent button prompts to story-advancing enemies stuck in rafters.
You Got The Touch!
As a Transformers fanboy at heart, it's hard NOT to say anything good about Fall of Cybertron. It is more than a worthy successor to War for Cybertron, capitalizing on what made that game great, and adding more to the mix that just makes it greater. Your favorite characters banter back and forth ("Did he say Shockwave?" "Did he say pets?!"), spectacular environments are torn apart by equally spectacular action, and in the end, the story hits its Cliffjumper cliffhanger right where it should, setting up for the inevitable arrival to Earth that we hope to see in Transformers: Ghosts of Cybertron! You like that one, High Moon? You can use it.
Top 5 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron fanboy moments:
- 5) Deploying Laserbeak AND Rumble on command.
- 4) Jetfire blasting out a launch tube BSG style.
- 3) The end credits.
- 2) Grimlock's finishing move on a Decepticon Leaper.
- 1) As Jazz, driving at full speed through a battle, boosting upward, transforming mid-air, grappling the top of a wall, flipping over that wall, and transforming again before the wheels hit the ground. "Do it with style, or don't bother doing it." - Jazz