Activision has called on the gaming wizards at High Moon Studios to create “new” Transformers game, free of the “restylizing” of what is now dubbed “Michael Bay’s Transformers.” Transformers: War for Cybertron is closer to the real deal, the comic book and televised version of the Transformers we know and love from the 1980s. Suiting up as the Autobots and Decepticons, war will be waged, but only one side will be victorious.
Initially I was skeptical when heading into “another” Transformers game. The last few outings have been underachieving to say the least. Growing up with the Transformers it is hard for me to stomach the new “film” adaptation, let alone the garbage that has been ruining the Transformers name in gaming. Thankfully, ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron’ breaks the long running streak of disappointing Transformers games with one of the best renditions of the Transformers since the classic 80s cartoon.
Hey Witwicky, This is How You do It
The main reason why ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron’ is a success is because it abandons the “new” look and feel from the motion picture for an an edgier "generation 1" inspired image. The design is pushed towards a more mature audience, basically middle aged gamers who grew up with cartoon in the 1980s. This tilt towards the darker side of the Transformers fits in perfectly with the brutal nature of these giant-sized killing machines. The story isn't overly exciting, but it does a great job at repackaging the basic tale of good versus evil, and the 'War for Cybertron' is just that. Two factions battling for control of their home planet Cybertron. And if that is not enough good news, here is some more... 'Transformers: War for Cybertron' contains no 'Witwicky,' no 'Mudflap' or 'Skids.' Yes, it is time for a celebratory dance!
Having fun with Dark Energon
The single player campaign lets you play on both sides of the war, over five chapters each. As the Decepticons, you will follow 'Megatron' as he mega-kicks Autobot ass all over Cybertron with the help of a forbidden energy source called ‘Dark Energon.’ Along with his motley crew that include cult favourites 'Starscream' and 'Soundwave,' you will head down corridor after corridor until victory is within hand. On the other side of the coin you have the Autobots with 'Optimus Prime' stepping up to save the day. The battles between two sides is as brutal as you can expect with a few surprises along the way. Most gamers will likely get a kick out of playing the Decepticon angle, simply because it feels fresh, but that’s not to say some primal action isn't just as fun. Stopping the Decepticons is no easy feat, and one that translates perfectly into the medium of gaming.
No Forests or Rainbows
During your time in the campaign you will likely be entertained juggernauting through the waves of metallic enemies. However, this extended war for Cybertron can also feel empty. This emptiness continuously grows the more you trek through each level. This is mainly because of the bland claustrophobic inspiring environments that do little to offer up some variation. I didn’t expect a war on Cybertron to be filled with bright forests and rainbows, but a little more variety could have gone a long way. A few of the flying levels helped break some of the monotony of the level design, but when it comes down to it, there simply isn’t enough of them.
Taking a Traditional Approach
The gameplay is your basic 3rd person shooter, but with the ability to transform between a humanoid shape and a vehicle at any time. The main difference between these two forms is speed and weaponry. Strangely, 'High Moon Studios' decided to go a more traditional route with the action by adding a frugal ammunition system with slow reloading, health bars, and non-snapping cover. It is an odd choice that feels a little dated when compared to vast majority of shooters. Call it spoiled, or call it being not being hardcore enough, but a few little tweaks like having a better shield system or unlimited ammo in vehicle form would have been nice. The only transformers that seem to have the advantage are the transformers who take the shape of jets—they have unlimited ammo in vehicle form.
If You've Played One, Then You've Played Them All
Helping to take our mind off the traditional mechanics are an assortment of weapons to pick up, and a few extra powers that help deficient each transformer. Even so, they all really feel the same when you are playing. In the beginning of each chapter you will be able to pick who you want to control out a listing of three options. You will likely find one transformer that you like over the rest and stick to them as much as possible. I tried every combination and didn’t find too much difference when jumping robot to robot.
Dolt! These Robots Need a Tune Up
In addition to all the characters playing the same, they seriously need a tune-up when it comes to the A.I. All these highly intelligent robots are fairly dumb when it comes to path finding or coming to your aid. The A.I. is dopy and I frequently was shaking my head while my allies kept getting stuck on objects, didn’t move to an objective, or worse, left me stuck in the middle of a gunfight without any help. Its moments like these that really break up any momentum you are having within the game and make the Transformers feel a little late to the race. Oh and if you were wondering, the opposition is equally dim-witted and can be triumphed without much variation in your approach. The only way to avoid this is by playing with friends.
In the win column, ‘War for Cyberton’ supports co-op, so you can play through the entire campaign with up to two other friends. Trust me in a 40-minute battle with 'Omega Supreme' you will want as much help as you can get.
Esclate The Action Online
For multiplayer, 'Transformers: War for Cybertron' has a fully flushed online section that feels like a nice throwback ‘Tribes.’. Included in the MP is a nice progression system that lets you customize and level up each class (4 classes in total) in the game. The modes lend themselves well to the shoot em’ mechanics on the single player game and even though the online game only supports 10 players, it is still a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the few times I logged on to slug it out online, I was met with some ugly lag issues. Lag aside (hopefully the servers get beefed up) Transformers is addictive and fun. Better yet, 'High Moon' has also included a ‘Horde-styled’ mode called ‘Escalation’ that extends the life of the game, especially if you a solid group of friends to team up with.
Unaware, 'Transformers: War for Cybertron' was fighting its own war. A war to validate the Transformers brand in gaming. As any Transformers fan will tell you, it has been a long time coming, and after a string of wish-washy Transformers games, a champion has finally arrived. This champion is 'High Moon Studios,' the developer who has finally broken the curse.
Now this doesn't mean 'Transformers: War for Cybertron' is a perfect game. Far from it, as it suffers from glitchy A.I. behaviour, claustrophobic environments, and some constant online lag, but as it stands, it is still one of the best “Transformers” games ever made, and joy to play for any long time fan. Even if you are not the nostalgic type, this giant-robot game has enough action sequences and online action to keep you busy for a while. I think 'High Moon' has done a great job reinventing the Transformers licence in gaming, which hopefully turns into a green light for a sequel. Transformers fans, you can safely roll out.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.29.10