The original Transformers: War for Cybertron was a welcome surprise – not a crappy movie tie-in, not a kid’s game, but a thoroughly enjoyable chunk of nostalgic action. With the bar set fairly high, we were curious if Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, from High Moon Studios and Activision, would play as good as it looks. Rest assured – this lives up to, if not surpasses, its predecessor.
We ran a crash course through three missions, each taking place in different thirds of the game and starring their own Transformer. In fact, every level has you playing as a different Autobot or Decepticon, switching between the two as you see the plot through both perspectives. This ensures that anyone who thought that the previous game was a tad repetitive will be learning something new with each mission. For our demo, Bumblebee, Starscream, and Grimlock were transformed and piloted with abandon.
Bumblebee introduces new players to the game’s mechanics in the first stage – but this ain’t no boring tutorial. Without giving too much of the plot away, you’re playing the “end” of the game in the catastrophic events of the first level, before fleshing out the events that led up to such a disaster. The game’s action still feels basic and pure: mowing down far-away enemies with a machinegun arm, then dashing in to melee-kill stragglers, is that much more fun when you’re a huge robot. You can also transform on the fly – which came in quite handy during some white-knuckle driving segments. Whether we were on foot or on wheels, the controls felt smooth – the kind that feel intuitive the moment you start playing.
Perennial fan-favorite Starscream is all about the aerial action, with both an agile helicopter and speedy jet form. Both were employed heavily throughout his stage: the helicopter came in handy when evading incoming missiles and returning fire, while the jet was crucial to the hot pursuit of fleeing targets. Despite the Unreal-Engine-sheen of the slick graphics, the framerate was smooth sailing throughout, even during the flashiest of transformations and/or rocket dodges.
After playing a level where flight and agility were paramount, stepping in the metallic boots of Grimlock was quite a change. This is one Transformer that will have diehard fans squealing with glee and series strangers in awe – for God’s sake, people, it’s a fire-breathing robot T-Rex. What more does one need from life? Grimlock is all about melee attacks – his powerful sword slashes made quick work of smaller enemies, while he had to bait bigger ‘bots into close range before sidestepping and slicing them up. Kill enough enemies, and Grimlock attains full rage – at which point, it’s T-Rex morphin’ time, Red Ranger style. Grimlock’s not the only Dinobot, either – the gang’s all here, as you get a helping hand (claw?) from Slag, Sludge, Swoop, and Snarl.
The best word to describe it all? Fun. Whether you’ve watched Transformers religiously since you were young, or you just think fighting robots are cool, Fall of Cybertron still has the straightforward, breakneck pace that made the first Cybertron so great. You won’t have to wait that long to play it, either – Fall of Cybertron is set to hit the US this August 28th, with Europe joining suit on August 31st.