As gamers wade through the massive list of amazing holiday releases, it’s important to take a look back at games that released earlier this summer that are still available and being pumped full of new content. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is one of these games; for lovers of the ‘Robots in Disguise’ some fanservice has been created that gives a nod to some of our favorites, while newcomers and those of a younger generation can use the game as a great way to introduce themselves to Transformers via Highmoon Studios’ take on the franchise.
I’m not some hardcore ‘leave my childhood alone!’ fan who preaches purity and canon that doesn’t stray from the story told since our childhood. Because of that tiny fact, it’s easy to peer into the story of Transformers: FoC and get captivated. Following up the surprisingly successful War for Cybertron, the story continues by focusing on the division of Autobot vs. Decepticon and the struggle to flee the planet in search of more Energon, needed to power the artificial race. Players will witness fully the heroic selflessness of the Autobots and the inner strife that makes up the Decepticons; rather than playing two separate campaigns with different motivations, players instead will experience an intertwined tale that embodies what each faction stands for.
It’s fun and causes a bit of confusion, though for the better, when players can experience each side of a battle. The Decepticons, arguably possessing far better (and cooler!) abilities and able to transform into some amazing vehicles, maintain the typical ‘evil outlook’, always choosing personal gain over that of the group. Autobots, as expected, are the antithesis of the Decepticons and stand for all that is good -- a testament to the will of their leader Optimus Prime. The Zoroastrianism basis of good battling evil is the primal conflict and is embodied even in the vehicles themselves.
Because the battle rages on Cybertron, the Transformers home planet, the recognizable vehicles aren’t so recognizable. Optimus sheds his 18-wheeler look for something less iconic, but equally intimidating and Bumblebee has not yet found his Volkswagen Beetle shape, instead sporting a ‘car of tomorrow’ design. All others are also yet to discover the human creations they will eventually fashion themselves after, which leaves it up to Highmoon Studios to cast their own interpretation of the characters, but also invents problems for those looking forward to the classic designs. Each design has a particular function, too. It’s clear that time has been given to each character, outlining their strengths and weaknesses and taking advantage of their critical skills. Decepticons excel in combat, using direct and powerful attacks to win the day. Autobots use misdirection and subterfuge (yes, stealth) to complete their objectives, with one obvious exception: Grimlock. Yes, the Tyrannosaurus Rex himself (and other dinobots) makes an appearance, though with little explanation as to how they know what a dinosaur looks like. But that small oversight can be ignored because it’s Grimlock. In another nod to fans everywhere, the story also explains why Grimlock has been portrayed as a nitwit for over two decades, despite his obvious strength and battle prowess.
And after players complete the campaign, online multiplayer will greet players looking to take their experience farther. The gameplay, while similar to the single player, is akin to what you’ll find in most third-person shooters. Team-based combat is apparent, with those who travel with allies typically being victorious during each encounter. The exciting part of the multiplayer lies within the personal customization that players are given. While it’s fun to play as iconic members of the Transformers, having the option to create your own character, complete with colors, armor pieces, various heads, and even metallic hue forces most players to invent some elaborate backstory of their own.
It’s odd that the most influential portion of a multiplayer experience is the character creation, but the combat itself is simply average with one notable exception. Selecting your character type determines what type of vehicle you transform into. Heavy tanks, speedy cars, and flying vehicles are available, each with their own particular uses. It adds another layer to the multiplayer experience, forcing players to choose which form is best suited for a particular skirmish, but still feels average at best. Thankfully the developers at Highmoon Studio aren’t letting the game grow stale and have plugged in three packs of downloadable content since the game released in late August, each of them adding characters and customizations to the multiplayer experience.
The best part of the game is the single player experience and, as holiday blockbusters release, the multiplayer community will take a population hit in the coming weeks and months. Despite that, the game is still a solid experience, delivering levels that progress through changing environments and delivering combat that is not just the same ‘shooting gallery’ approach that most shooters rely on. Mixing in stealth, a solid story, and iconic characters from the series, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is certainly worth your time.
Overall score: 7.5 out of 10