Saturday, December 1, 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

This review is based off of the PS3 version of the game.

A precious few franchises have garnered enough following to rival the loyal family of the Transformers. From G1 to Prime; Transformers has evolved from toys to block buster movies. Transformers: FoC is one of the latest entries into the extensive catalog of Cybertronian material and the sequel to the well received Transformers: War for Cybertron.

Storywise, FoC takes place seemingly immediately after the events of War for Cybertron. FoC opens during the last chapter of the game, with the legendary Autobot space vessel, the Arc, under heavy fire and siege by Decepticon forces. You start off using Bumblebee, struggling his way through the quickly degrading infrastructure of the Arc. He approaches the always climatic battle between Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, and Lord Megatron. The battle goes horribly south and quickly tunes us into the desperate situation the Autobots are in. The narrative rewinds to eight days before the opening events and the course of the game becomes an onward battle of attrition for energon and information.

Most of us know that the Autobots (and Decepticons) make it to Earth after leaving their beloved Cybertron. While the end is known, it doesn't make the journey there any less meaningful. High Moon did a great job of fleshing out the road to Earth during Cybertron's last days and made it impactful.

"Transformers: FoC is the apex of Transformers games to date."

The story is well paced and takes a lot of cues from Transformers the Movie. (The original animated version, not the Michael Bay blockbuster.) Hearing classic lines such as; "til all are one" and Rumble's "first we crack the shell, then we crack the nuts inside" were a classic touch that helped solidify the universe. They even played "the Touch" during the end credits. But the most riveting piece of plot was learning how the DinoBots came to be.

"Me Grimlock burn Prime puny butt!"

The controls for FoC are pretty much the shooter standard with the inclusion of character/event specific special abilities. The movement of the Cybertronians is a little clunky. A couple times I found myself fighting my own movement more than the actual enemies, which I particularly noticed with Optimus Prime and Megatron. But they are bigger guys and less spry than Jazz and Cliffjumper. The cover mechanic revolved around switching the shoulder camera and hiding behind various objects. A Gears of War cover system would have been a better fit and a smooth one, especially since the game virtually plays like robot GoW.

The gameplay varies depending on your character, which does a good job of changing the pace from the basic 'pew pew'. Optimus and Megatron are pretty straight forward, while Cliffjumper and Starscream's chapters revolve around stealth. And then there's Grimlock... Grimlock's chapter consists of blowing things up and beating the spark out of anything that comes near you till it's slag. Grimlock steals the show by far. He's so powerful they limited his time in Dino Mode to a rage gauge.

Even with all its glory FoC isn't without a bug or two. At least once per chapter (particularly with the faster characters and fliers) Jazz or Starscream would find themselves rocketing through the side of a wall and into oblivion, doomed to fall for eternity. Or in Starscream's case hover. At that point the only options was to restart from the latest checkpoint, which most often than not was only minutes before the mishap.

If you really sat down with it, you could probably conquer all thirteen chapters of FoC in one day. But for most folks it will probably be two to three. If you are just looking for a good time I'd recommend playing it on normal. If you want a challenge (and you're a shooter vet) you'll want to just start on the hard difficulty. It'll get a bit annoying as you die nearly instantly until you get some upgrades, but it'll be a bit more bang for your buck. Warning though, the last fight is ridiculous on hard. For your hard work; a horde mode called Escalation is unlocked after beating the game.

The multiplayer mode is impressive and toots a decent customization system. You can unlock armor sets of your favorite Transformers and mix and match to make your own bot. The modes are the standard run of the mill; Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, along with Conquest and Headhunter, which play like Territories and V.I.P from Halo, respectively.

In all, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a strong game with a huge mythos to build off of and live up to. It accomplishes this in spades. Its shortcomings are easily overlooked for the polished veneer and care High Moon put into the game. If you are a Transformers fan you cannot pass this game up. Transformers: FoC is the apex of Transformers games to date.

out of 10

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