Transformers: Fall of Cybertron review

  • The overall strong story campaign with varied gameplay
  • The team-centric Escalation mode
  • The tight controls in the shooting segments
  • The drawn out Dinobot section in the campaign.
  • The occasional muddy textures and pop-in
  • Campaign co-op has been dropped

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 survive.

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.

More Info

Release date: Aug 21 2012 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Activision
Developed by: High Moon Studios
Franchise: Transformers
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Animated Blood, Violence

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  • ObliqueZombie - August 21, 2012 10:12 a.m.

    Sounds pretty good to me. I'll pick it up when I have the money to, or when it goes on sale in Steam. But might I suggest adding a little life into the writing? It got the point across, which is want you want it to do, but your piece fell flat in the entertainment side. It was like you laid out the facts, rather than telling me how you really feel. I also heard no voice, which made it boring. Just a suggestion, of course. You nailed near every point that a review should hit, Lorenzo, and that's what counts when it all boils down to it.
  • garnsr - August 21, 2012 3:05 p.m.

    Unfortunately the review style here has become the same as what you'd have read in a magazine years ago. I can't remember the last review that did more than outline the plot and how the game plays, by adding interesting captions or jokes here and there, like they used to do here. I'd guess it must come from the higher-ups, not just the passing of the personalities we used to love here, I think the new guys could spice it up a little if they were allowed.
  • codystovall - August 21, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    I wants now but has no money. Dawww....
  • KnowYourPokemon - August 21, 2012 1:39 p.m.

    If only I could figure out how to turn on the G1 optimus skin :P
  • einhazard - August 21, 2012 8:12 p.m.

    If you're on the campaign chapter select screen, hit 'Y' or Triangle while highlighting a mission with Optimus. It won't show up in cutscenes, tho.
  • Pwnz0r3d - August 21, 2012 3:44 p.m.

    Not able to play as Shockwave? He's almost as important as Megatron for the Decepticons -_- Oh well, I'll still hopefully get it soon once I get the cash.
  • TomONeill76 - August 21, 2012 4:34 p.m.

    Hey, what is the song you use at the end of the video as I looked for it on youtube and it wasn't the same, also great/informative review.
  • GR_LorenzoVeloria - August 21, 2012 5:44 p.m.

    Ta da!
  • TomONeill76 - August 22, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    Yeah that's not the same one used in the video as it's a bit more rock orientated
  • TomONeill76 - August 22, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    That wasn't the same song that was used in the video? As the one in the video is more rock orientated
  • ohlookabetakey - August 21, 2012 7:11 p.m.

    I'm a bit confused as to how removing constant three person co-op from the campaign is a bad thing. Sure there was some extra banter involved but it didn't improve the game play in the least, it just filled the screen with more bots and made me feel like I should always be playing with two others whereas I was looking for a single playing experience. When I was looking for co-op I played escalation mode, which is what co-op should be like, a side bit for when you were done with the story. Except escalation was so much fun I didn't even bother with finishing the story.
  • Bloodstorm - August 22, 2012 5:18 a.m.

  • Bloodstorm - August 22, 2012 5:25 a.m.

    I have to disagree. 3 and a half stars? The game was freaking fantastic. You guys give mindless drivel like Call of Duty 10's (5 stars) all the time, come on. I realize, 3.5 is the same as a 7/10, and 7/10 isn't bad, but it was so much more than 7/10. "You'll hate The drawn out Dinobot section in the campaign." That was one of the funnest levels. "Campaign co-op has been dropped" This was a good thing. Made for a complete, engaging story experience, something co-op ruined for games like Gear of War 3, which lost any story elements it had gained in Gear of War 2 by striping away all the characters that fed you the story as you played.
  • slimjim441 - August 22, 2012 7:27 p.m.

    'Ironside?' You must mean Ironhide. The die-hard G1 fan in me won't let that slide.
  • supermage65 - August 24, 2012 7:37 a.m.

    Dropping co-op was a bad thing? I disagree, the co-op in War for Cybertron was a clunky mess, especially when you were playing alone. The single player aspect of Fall of Cybertron allows for much more fluidity to the level design rather than being "move here-fight these guys-move here-fight more guys". Also, I'm a little disappointed that they limited Escalation down to four characters per map. In War for Cybertron you could pick any Autobot/Decepticon that was in the game, but in Fall of Cybertron you're limited to the four on the map. Don't get me wrong, Escalation is my favorite mode, but the limited characters feels off to me.
  • jamesyd - September 3, 2012 6:30 a.m.

    decent game 6/10 for me preferred the prequel @garnsr check out lots of interesting articles and reviews there that are better than the norm!