High Moon Studio’s retelling of the Transformers’ escape
from their dying planet Cybertron was left unfinished in 2010’s Transformers:
War for Cybertron. In its sequel, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, continues
the story of the Autobot/Decepticon civil war, reintroduces familiar characters
from the cartoon series, and delivers the action-packed gameplay of the
original – with a few changes.
Fall of Cybertron takes place directly after the events of
the previous game, with Optimus and the Autobots preparing their deep-space
ship, known as the Ark, for evacuation from the mechanical planet. The campaign
is structured differently from the previous title. Instead of two separate
campaigns – Autobot and Decepticon – as seen in the prior game, Fall of
Cybertron takes you through a single storyline that alternates between the two
sides. For instance, in one mission, you’ll play as Optimus Prime as he
attempts to secure Energon resources for the Ark’s evacuation. In the next,
you’ll take control of the Decepticon, Vortex, as he sabotages the Autobot
transport carrying that same Energon supply. You’ll see both sides of the
conflict firsthand, which is great for those who enjoyed the dual perspective
of the first game. But that’s not all that’s changed.
Fall of Cybertron forgoes the three-player co-op from the
previous title, which in turn, negates the ability to choose the character you
play in each level. You no longer have two companion characters following you
around. Instead, characters like Jazz will move about the background, guide you
through levels, and keep up the banter as you stealthily infiltrate a Decepticon
base as the mission’s designated Autobot, Cliffjumper. Each level is crafted
with the transformer’s abilities in mind. In some missions, you’ll play as Optimus
with a heavy emphasis on shooting or you’ll do some platforming as the
acrobatic Jazz, while others let you take to the skies as Starscream in amazing
aerial/ground hybrid levels.
Each level type is fun in its own right. The shooting
sections are solid, stealth missions go without a hitch, and aerial assaults
are a blast. However, the melee-focused Dinobot section of the campaign is far
from enjoyable. Rather than running into battle guns blazing, firing off
missile launchers, and transforming at a moment’s notice to rain-down a
bombardment of explosives on enemy lines, you’re forced to continuously mash
the melee button and watch the same combo animation over and over, as you wail
on Insecticons. The entire section was completely out of place and drags on for
far too long. Even the instant ability to transform is taken away in exchange
for a rage meter that (once filled) allows you to activate your T-Rex form.
Overall, the gameplay feels tighter and more focused.
However, the inability to play as or interact with a larger roster of
characters is disappointing. You’ll see plenty of familiar characters, like
Ironhide and Shockwave, but you won’t be able to interact with most of them in
more than a short dialogue exchange. It is also a missed opportunity that the more
prominent characters don’t play boss roles to fill the overall lack of boss
battles. Instead, you’re stuck fighting generic, larger-than-usual transformers
as they show up as “sort-of” mini-bosses to replace the massive boss encounters
of the first game.
Throughout our playthrough, we noticed a significant amount
of graphics pop-in and muddy textures. Walls appear blurry for a second or two
after loading, and sometimes take several seconds for character textures to
appear when fiddling with the armor options on the multiplayer menus. This
lessens when we installed the game on Xbox 360, so be prepared to lose eight
gigs of hard drive space.
After you finish the campaign, the multiplayer and
Escalation modes provide a great reason to come back to Fall of Cybertron. Not
much has changed from War for Cybertron’s multiplayer, but engaging giant
robots in a gun battle is just as fun as before. Successful kills and captured
objectives earn experience points to unlock more weapons and upgrades, and you
can customize youre Autobot and Decepticons with armor parts to make them stand
out from the crowd.
Escalation – the Transformers version of Horde mode – is
especially addicting. Players face wave after wave of hostile transformers.
You’ll choose from four character classes, each with unique support abilities including
a projectile absorbing Flak Shield, Heal Beam, automated Battle Sentry, or the
ammo replenishing Ultra-Power Core. When you get a kill in Escalation, you earn
money, which you can use to purchase weapons, activate traps, and open doors to
access new sections of the map. The enemies come out in droves, so sticking
with your team and devising and effective battle strategy is the only way to
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a solid action experience
with a few issues that hold it back from greatness. The story campaign
entertains and the multiplayer modes entice you to come back after the credits
roll, but the out-of-place melee segments, polish issues, and dropped features
from the first game make it fall short. If you’re a Transformers superfan
looking for more giant robot action or just looking for a fun shooter experience,
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will not disappoint.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.