The lights are on
Never before have I played a game that made me want to dive
into a franchise so badly. Playing Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is like
getting a crash course introduction into the Transformers universe. But don’t
be fooled, this isn't the Michael Bay, explosions and Meghan Fox universe. This
is the true Transformers universe started in the 80s by the G1 cartoon.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is just as much a cinematic experience as it is
a game, and one of the most unique third person shooters I have played in a
The story covers the events leading up to the G1 cartoon and
the Transformers expedition to the planet earth. The war between the Autobots
and Decepticons has drained Cybertron (their home world) of all its Energon
(their power source) forcing them to search the stars for a new planet they can
call home. As the Autobots scramble to amass enough Energon to power their Ark,
Megatron attempts to wipe out the Autobots and take Cybertron for himself. A
lot happens in the game even though it takes less than 10 hours to complete.
One of the most surprising to me was how much I cared about
the Transformers and their struggle. Thanks to very well implemented quick time
events, the cutscenes and gameplay flow together seamlessly, meaning you will never
feel like you aren’t in control. In an early mission you spend ten minutes as
Optimus Prime walking around the Autobot base talking to the soldiers and
helping them with menial tasks. Moments like these help the player connect with
the Transformers, and make the game’s emotional moments that much stronger.
The gameplay is introduced through one of the best tutorials
I’ve ever seen in which you play as Bumblebee during an attack on the Autobot
Ark. The game is a third person shooter, but it sets itself apart by ditching
any sort of cover system, instead encouraging run and gun gameplay with tight
controls and a variety of movement options. You will dash, jump, and grapple
your way around stages, in addition to being able to transform into a vehicle
for quick getaways. Once mastered, the gameplay is fast and fun, and offers
something unique in a sea of cover based shooters. The game features the normal array of assault
rifles and shotguns, as well as a few unique heavy weapons, such as the
lightning gun. All of these weapons can be permanently upgraded with credits
earned from killing enemies. However, some tedious firefights coupled with
unforgiving checkpoints make a few sections of the game feel like a grind. To
break up the tedium, you play as a different Transformer in almost every
mission. Each new character feels distinct, with their own transformation and
special ability, but not every area is created equal. One notable low point is the stealth section,
which feels out of place in such a fast paced game.
A common complaint with the previous Transformers game was
the blandness of the world, which was filled with similar looking metallic
environments. Although FoC is still mostly comprised of these machine filled
environments, but they are more colorful and there are a few outdoor areas that
change things up. Adding to the fun is the fact that most of the environment is
destructible, allowing you to break apart enemy cover. All of the characters
look amazing, appearing to have been pulled directly out of the cartoon. Their
designs are colorful and shiny, and transformations are fluid and believable.
Character animations look a little stiff, and movement feels somewhat sluggish,
but these details will rarely distract you from the game’s overall beauty.
The soundtrack consists of mostly generic rock music, with a
few inspired orchestral pieces during critical moments, but you can rarely hear
it over the gunshots and robot explosions. It is unlikely that this will bother
you though, since the character dialogue is so good. Characters are constantly
talking, sometimes to themselves and sometimes to each other over radio. Most
of the writing is goofy and over the top, but fits perfectly in the spirit of
the cartoon, which was similar in that respect.
Online multiplayer and Horde-like Escalation mode are the
only reasons to stick around after finishing the campaign, but I can’t say that
either one hooked me. Competitive multiplayer is unique, letting you choose between
4 distinct types of customizable Transformers, but after a few matches I was
ready to put it down.
Lastly I would like
to mention bugs. I ran into at least two major bugs during my play through, one
in which a character didn’t appear in a cutscene, and another causing me to get
trapped in a wall, forcing a restart. I didn’t run into any game crashes, and
these two bugs didn’t ruin my experience, but they did lessen it and are
therefore worth mentioning.
If you are a newcomer to the Transformers series, Fall of
Cybertron will welcome you with open arms. The enjoyable story and fast paced
combat will keep you hooked until the end, even if you have no prior knowledge
(like me). A few tedious moments aside, the game is perfect for anyone looking
for a third person shooter that is toting something different.