August 31, 2012

The End of the Beginning

Lasting First Impressions of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Developed by High Moon Studios  |  Published by Activision

Transformers FOC Boxart» I love Transformers and High Moon Studios is every Transformers fan’s hero.  They understand our fandom because they are fans themselves.  Two years ago, they released Transformers: War for Cybertron and proved their devotion to The Transformers by creating a decent third-person shooter that just happened to have a Transformers skin.  The follow-up to War for Cybertron has now made its way into the hands of fans in the form of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron that promises to tell the story that leads directly into where our childhood starts with the original 1980’s “The Transformers” television show.

In fact, as if to foreshadow the imminent departure from Cybertron, the game begins exactly where the show started 30 years ago, with the Autobots’ Ark leaving their home planet and subsequently coming under attack by Megatron’s Decepticons.  Here you learn the basic controls of the game by playing solely as everyone’s favourite bug, Bumblebee (what’s up with Bumblebee never having a voice these days?)  There’s really nothing new to the control scheme in Transformers as it fairly standard shooter stuff.  Each character does, however, have a special ability that is quite fun to play.  Optimus Prime can call in an air strike from everyone’s favourite walking city, Metroplex; Jazz uses a grapple ability; Cliffjumper, who can cloak himself, is essentially a stealth spy; and Megatron has his massive cannon that feels ultra-powerful.

Transformers FOC Metroplex

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a non-stop action ride.  From the moment the game starts, the tension never stops and there is very little down-time to truly enjoy the scenery of everyone’s favourite robot planet.  That’s not to say, however, that the game isn’t enjoyable.  Experiencing this universe and hearing the enigmatic voice of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime is enough to burst out the childhood joy once again.  Cybertron itself, as I travelled from one checkpoint to another, felt both alive and dead at the same time as its many facets were being torn apart by the age old war between Autobot and Decepticon.  The scenery felt real in a sense with the metallic underpinnings looking old and decayed, both shiny and used, and utterly epic.

The story of the Autobots trying to prepare to leave their beloved planet while being thwarted by the Decepticon minions flows very well. Each chapter, while presenting the player with the opportunity to experience the war from another characters optic sensors, felt very natural.  I simply loved the Cliffjumper chapter as it presented an opportunity to play stealth in contrast to the continuous battles that the game started with under Optimus Prime’s story.  I look forward to experiencing each of the different characters and factions throughout the game’s many epic chapters.

Transformers FOC OptimusNot everything in Fall of Cybertron is perfect, however.  The controls can feel a little clunky, especially in vehicle format.  Since the vehicles modes tend to ‘float’ over the surface of Cybertron rather than roll on wheels (though Optimus Prime still says “Roll Out!”), they don’t truly feel like you’re controlling an earth-bound car.  This sliding action just felt a little strange and certainly takes some time to adjust to.  Additionally, during combat, although your allies and your enemies will instinctually duck behind cover, there is no actual cover system. Instead, the player is forced to simply stand behind the cover and switch their “firing arm” from left to right in order to shoot from the best side.  On-screen instructions are often difficult to read as the text is small and the font colours aren’t distinctive enough against the game’s backgrounds.  At times, these instructions would appear for only a moment and I would miss what it said because they weren’t obvious enough to react to or would be too long making me have to stop the action just to read the instructions.

Despite these few qualms I have with the game, I found Fall of Cybertron was, overall, a very engaging game and I wanted to continue playing and experience more.  It may not be a game that a non-Transformers fan would care to play but it certainly stands up as a decent third-person shooter with a great story.  Fall of Cybertron isn’t a perfect game but it’s certainly a fun one. Afterall, isn’t that what gaming is all about?

High Moon Studios, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED and that’s just prime!

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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