My love for transforming robots started with the 80's cartoon shows. It's rather astounding that the concept has survived this well over the years, and the recent Michael Bay movies have Transformers fever at an all time high.
Transformers is your typical boyhood dream. Enormous robots, hi-tech, war and things that break (preferably due to explosions). What's not to like? And the fascination has stuck with us, old fans, most of whom appreciated the first new movie (the good one), and it perhaps mostly towards these old fans that High Moon Studios have aimed their Transformers game. And people who just enjoy good action in general.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is at its core a very good action game. It's beautiful, heavy, has some spectacular boss fights, and great variation in the combat, something that allows us to forget about the rather bland level design, and the almost complete lack of surprises.
War for Cybertron is similar to Gears of War. You control a rather bulky main character (understandable given the context), who runs between covers, jump obstacles, and most of all blows enemies away. The comparison ends there, and what lifts the experience is the fact that you play as a Transformer.
And not just one Transformer for that matter. Before each level you get to pick one of several radically different robots that require different tactics. If you want straight forward action and fire power, evil Megatron is a great choice, while the smaller and more agile Barricade offers up a different style of gameplay.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Transformers universe War on Cybertron, is played out on Cybertron, the home planet of the giant robots. A rather grim and grey place, which is perhaps the greatest weakness of the game. Cybertron is huge, and to look away at the horizon is often awe inspiring, but the levels are very linear and without finesse. If I had been controlling Marcus Fenix, I would have grown tired of it fairly fast, but like I said, you're a Transformer.
This allows you the opportunity to transform at any given point and tackle the combat any way you want. There are also passages specifically designed for you alternative state. For instance you will be driving at insane speeds across winding bridges, or play a bit of shoot 'em up in space when you're a spacecraft.
Add to this the possibility of playing co-operatively with two friends, and blow your way through the adventure. All of this lets us forget just how sterile the wartorn planet of steel really is.
The game is divided into two distinct parts where you start out as the evil Decepticons, but in the middle of the adventure you shift sides and get the Autobots view on things. Both sides are crammed full of fan favourites such as the deceitful Starscream, calculating Soundwave, and root of all things evil himself - Megatron - on the Decepticon side. On the Autobot side of things you will play the charming Bumblebee, Ratchet and the always courageous hero Optimus Prime.
With a fresh take on story telling that allows the player a greater understanding of what takes place, the rather lacklustre basic plot is turned into something interesting during the more than decent amount of time you will spend with the campaign (took me 12 hours). The dialogue is also pure bliss for a Transformers fan, not just because Peter Cullen reprises his role as Optimus Prime, but also thanks to all the easter eggs High Moon Studios have hidden away for players to find. It's always very serious, but with that special touch that old fans are sure to appreciated.
What I like most about Transformers: War for Cybertron are the boss fights. As in Atari's old Transformers game on Playstation 2, the developers have included the true giants of the world the game takes place in. You will run into both Omega Supreme and Trypticon, who turn into bases meant for other Transformers to populate, and they're not small to begin with.
Thanks to the Unreal 3.0 Engine Transformers: War for Cybertron is a joy to behold. All the small flaws of a graphic engine, are almost turned into advantages in the artificial world that Cybertron is. The game also sports cool effects and great sound. The dull music deducts a few points on the overall sound score.
Some of you have probably already downloaded the demo that was released before the game came out. I probably don't have to inform you about how ferocious the multiplayer action is, but to everyone else I can ensure you that High Moon Studios haven't made the classic mistake of just adding multiplayer for the sake of it.
Sure there is your usual line up of death matches and capture the flag, but they are all fun to play and there is a natural progression. What adds an extra dimension is the fact that you can build your own robot for multiplayer and make sure he has all the abilities you use most.
High Moon Studios, have played their fair share of Gears of War 2 and created their own take on Horder, called Escalation. You collect points during the rounds, and you spend these on lives, ammunition, or improved weaponry. The last thing is what everyone wants, but without enough lives you die (simple math) and without enough ammunition it's hard to collect more points. Perfectly balanced fun, where you compete with your team mates to collect the best equipment.
It's not hard to like a game where you can double-jump and turn into jet fighter and seconds later dogfight you enemies, or turn yourself into a tank when the enemies have you in a bad spot. Sure the enemies sometimes lack a little variation, and the world is a bit grey, but Transformers: War for Cybertron is a lot of fun to play, and in the end that's what it all comes down to.