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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

In 2010, High Moon Studios produced the best Transformers game ever made with War for Cybertron. Two years later, they’ve done it again with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Granted, the bar was never set very high to begin with, but that doesn’t mean Fall of Cybertron (FoC) isn’t a good game.

The biggest difference between the two is in the campaign mode. Gone is the team based shooting where you pick one of three autobots or decepticons. In its place you get levels focused around one specific Transformer, and his special abilities. Jazz and his grappling hook, for example. This comes at the cost of multiplayer in the campaign, but the lack of a team based campaign makes for more scripted and dramatic gameplay. All of the characters weaved in to a solid story that incorporates the entire universe. More set pieces, more action, more more more! The story also does a good job transitioning from level to level. Where the previous game had a more defined end to each level, FoC seamlessly takes you from one adventure to another. I had to specifically decide to stop playing, not just turn it off when they told me I was done with a level.

The story does take certain liberties with the source material, especially after War for Cybertron wrapped things up so well in taking us to the start of the G1 cartoon. However if you want to fit Grimlock or Bruticus into the story, two great characters to play as, you have to take some leaps. Also as far as the campaign goes, while it is technically not split into two campaigns, the middle of the game is mostly decepticons while the autobots make up the bookends. So yeah, it’s split into two campaigns.

Underrated

Multiplayer is still fun, escalation and all of the other modes are done well enough. The creation however got a big upgrade. War for Cybertron gave you models of all of the playable Transformers and let you change their colors. Now you can individually change heads, legs, arms and torsos, which also decide what you turn into. There is also a much greater color palate to choose from. I’m not a big multiplayer guy, but I love creating things and this gives me the opportunity to create all I want, once I unlock all of the items of course. Don’t worry, following trends you can just buy items straight up for cash.

It’s a good looking game but there are some issues. The sound jumped in and out on me occasionally during my play through, and the engine stutters a little when too much is going on. This could be fixed with future updates but right now it’s a little annoying. Nothing game breaking though. Aside from that, Cybertron is a much more colorful world. Like I mentioned in my first preview for the game (here) the environments are more varied in FoC. The sun is bright and the ships are as well. There are different textures and colors and it makes the game pop without losing the rusty feel of a metallic planet. It is a very large world and it finally plays like it as well.

Despite all of the positives I have, the one thought I came away with was that I’m not sure if I would have bought this if it wasn’t a Transformers game. Mostly it’s a third person shooter with a Transformers skin. That’s great but I’m not all about shooters. I’m more of the Arkham City, Assassins Creed kind of guy. The transforming is good and that’s what I came for but once I play I barely use it. My shooter mentality kicks in and I stick to cover and strafing to get the job done, and for the most part it totally works. Some of the added technology is cool (gravity bomb FTW) but I feel like most of the times I actually transformed it was by accident since it is done by pushing the L3 button. However despite all of that, I do love Transformers so I had to buy this game immediately to get the experience, and for me getting the story and playing as my favorite characters was well worth the investment.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a love letter to Transformers fans, and is a good game that has done the best and the most with the Transformers license than any game before it. It just hasn’t gotten it 100% right yet. If you are a Transformers fan like me, then you have no reason not to buy this game. It’s everything you love about Transformers in the form of a good third person shooter. However if you wouldn’t know the matrix of leadership if it was sticking out of your chest, there are better shooters right now and this might not be the ideal game for you.

“Transformers: Fall of Cybertron” E3 Updates and Gameplay

Ryan may have wrapped up our E3 coverage, but the only game I really care about at the moment is Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We took a few shots in the dark after seeing some of the screen shots that were released in January, but thanks to E3 we now have a lot more information on what High Moon studios has been up to and some gameplay to go with it. First let’s take a look at the new trailer:

Yes there is more Grimlock and Bruticus (both confirmed playable btw), but OH MY GOD IT’S METROPLEX! War for Cybertron handed us giant bosses in the form of Trypticon and Omega Supreme, but Metroplex takes us into God of War territory in terms of size. I can only assume that he is a boss for the Decepticons at some point, but he is already more than that. It was revealed today in the FoC demo that Optimus Prime controls Metroplex, and that in-game he can target enemies for Metroplex to blow away with missels, stomp on them, or whatever else he’s capable of. This acts as a special ability for Optimus, and each playable character has their own special trait (Jazz has a grappling hook for example). This all goes along with the single player modes being solo missions. I imagine each stage will be built around a specific characters skills, which certainly adds variety to the gameplay. One more thought on Metroplex, his addition makes me wonder what the response will be to him in the Autobot campaign. Trypticon was the Decepticon equivalent in G1, so perhaps to add scale could this be where Unicron steps in? The man could be an entire level on his own.

One change you’ll notice when checking out the demo is weapon upgrade system. While you still can acquire weapons on the fly during battle, there are also weapon stores where you can purchase new weapons and upgrades to your favorite weapons using currency that you earn in-game. Another change from the way all previous Transformers games have been designed is that the story mode is not split into two separate campaigns, but instead there is one cohesive campaign that has you going back and forth between the Autobots and Decepticons. I think this is a great move for the sake of telling a story and could make it feel more like an episode of the show. High Moon has also put emphasis on character creation in multiplayer, making every limb customizable along with weapons and abilities, all the way down to the texture of your transformer. A big upgrade after the bare bones approach in War for Cybertron.

So far I’ve seen four levels. Three of them are Optimus Prime making a charge through Decepticon forces with the help of Metroplex, Starscream sneaking around the top of an Autobot stronghold with flight and stealth, and Grimlock just bashing everything in sight (including what could be insecticons?) underground. These three levels all seems pretty varied. Prime’s stage is the most like the previous game. Walk into a room, shoot everything and keep going (occasionally calling for an airstrike). Strarscream’s stage is similar to the aerial stages in the previous game, but there does seem to be more room for interpretation by using stealth and other skills I mainly just used in multiplayer before. Grimlock’s level is all close combat. His special skill is simply turning into a dinosaur mode, but it is used as if he was hulking up. When his meter maxes out he can turn into dinosaur mode for a brief period of time, where he appears indestructible and capable of a lot of damage before turning back into robot mode. The other Dinobots also appear in the game, but I do not believe either is playable. The other thing of note is that all three stages have pretty varied looks, something that was another critique of the first game.

The fourth level is the opening of the game featuring Bumblebee. The game kicks off right where the first one left us, with the Autobots trying to leave Cybertron while the Decepticons follow. Needless to say, things don’t go as Optimus planned, and it is up to Bumblebee to save the day. This ends up being the tutorial level, and shows off some pretty nice set pieces which could be a preview of the rest of the game. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron comes out on August 28th, and I’m surprised I haven’t already pre-ordered it.

Transformers Prime Season 2 Trailer

Transformers Prime comes back to The Hub with season 2 on February 18th, and an extended trailer has been released to promote it. I was a big fan of the first season last year. It combined the G1 and Michael Bay versions, as well as having a story that had some fairly legit drama and adult overtones while still being a kids’ show. Essentially It’s something parents can watch with their kids.

The first season ended with Optimus Prime using the Matrix of Leadership to defeat Unicron, who in this version isn’t just on earth, but he basically is the earth. Subduing him did some damage to Optimus’ memory, bringing him back to when he and Megatron were friends. Basically Optimus is now a decepticon to start season 2. Here is the trailer:

A couple of notes:
1) By the look of things Ratchet takes over as team leader. This is only based on him saying “roll out” in the trailer, which if you ask Rodimus, is all you need to do to be leader.
2) The key to Vector Sigma definitely plays a role here. Optimus gave it to Jack at the end of season 1. Maybe that is what brings his memories back. It is unclear exactly what the key does in this series, but it has generally given some sort of life to machines.
3) Following suit with the G1 series, the humans (at least Jack) go to space. Why he specifically needs to go to space to help fight off giant robots with lasers is anyone’s guess, but it probably has to do with the key. Maybe he doesn’t trust Arcee with it?

Either way I’ll be setting my DVD to record it on February 18th. It’s a Saturday night and even I’m not so nerdy that I’ll stay home just for Transformers Prime.

New “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron” Screenshots

Activision recently released some new screenshots from Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, the sequel to 2010’s War for Cybertron. The game isn’t due out until this fall but these screenshots have some fairly interesting details about where the game is going.

First we have a good shot of Shockwave, Megatron’s guardian of Cybertron. He looks pretty close to his G1 form here, but I’d imagine that like with Megatron and Soundwave, he too will transform into some type of vehicle instead of his typical laser gun.

Next we have what looks like Cliff Jumper using what appears to be a new flamethrower weapon. I’m sure there will be more new toys to follow. I could be jumping the gun here, but none of these shots depict any team based fighting, which was a big part of the previous game. Is it possible that there will be a focus on solo missions this time around?

There are also a few images of Optimus Prime, Jazz and Starscream in action. The main thing I take from those is the lighting. War for Cybertron was very dark and dingy. Here however we clearly see a sun in the background, along with much brighter backdrops. Since it doesn’t exactly look like they are fighting on Earth, this either means that the end of the last game caused a shift in Cybertron’s orbit making it gravitate closer to another solar system (perhaps ours?), or they just did all their fighting at night last time. Either way I think it is a nice change of pace. It certainly works for Uncharted.

Finally there is the guy that has led the marketing campaign so far, Grimlock. We have a couple of shots of him in both robot and dinosaur mode, looking great of course. The main thing I am excited about however is that he is fighting drones. I had feared early on that due to his size in the trailer, he would be regulated to a final boss in the decepticon campaign, much like Omega Supreme and Trypticon were utilized in War for Cybertron after being featured in the trailers. But is he is fighting drones, that makes it much more likely that Grimlock will be a fully playable character, meaning that we will finally get to bash brains! Fall can’t come fast enough.

Full gallery below.

Transformers Masterpiece Collection Reissuing Again?

The announcement of a remodeled Starscream has me at odds with my favorite toy line.

I love the Transformers Masterpiece Collection. It’s the exact type of toy that I wanted when I was a kid and they make great collectables now (as well as great stop motion movies). Since it started in 2003 the had an incredibly strong run with a near perfect Optimus Prime, followed by Starscream and then a Megatron that, while a little odd in robot mode, had an outstanding oversized Walther P38 alternate mode.  After a number of repaints turning Optimus figures into Ultra Magnus, Starscream into Skywarp and Thundercracker among other variants, Takara/Hasbro continued the nostalgia trip with Grimlock (my favorite of the line so far), and Rodimus Prime. All of the molds had character, gimmicks, and all the extra goodies you can ask for (KREMZEEK!).

However, the last two announced figures aren’t bringing me nearly the same excitement.

MP-03 Starscream 2006

First was a remake of Optimus Prime in September. Made more to scale with the rest of the line, which was smaller and significantly lighter than the mostly die-cast giant MP-01, was welcomed in a way but not necessarily needed. It’s great that there was new Optimus Prime that had a more G1 cartoon look and fit in better with the other figures, but there were still so many different characters the fans wanted. Soundwave? Galvatron? A fully realized armored Ultra Magnus? To pay a top dollar (over $250) for a character collectors already had seemed a little much. All this did was make me more anxious to find out what the next addition would be, which I assumed would be another new character.

Well boy was I wrong. In October Takara announced that next in line would be a remake of

MP-11 Starscream 2011

Starscream. Again making a more cartoon accurate figure, do we really need to remake these characters again? Is MP-12 going to be a new Megatron? The original Prime mold was released in 2003, so redesigning it 8 years later can be understood. But Starscream wasn’t out until 2006, and now 5 years later it is being redone? It was even a similar size to the rest of the line and is lighter so they can’t have the same reasons as with Prime. There have to be better uses of time. Even Bumblebee could use the Masterpiece treatment. Forget about my dream of 5 Masterpiece Constructicon molds that fit together to form a 3 foot Devastator.

The Transformers Universe is so large that staying just with old standbys is simply foolish. I’m still interested in what Takara comes out with next. However now I’m more skeptical than I am excited over it.

Shockwave anyone?