Autobots! Transform and roll out! This was the cry that united millions of kids in the 80′s to a 20 minute toy commercial called “Transformers” While time has passed the formula of selling toys through a TV show hasn’t changed much. TV shows geared towards selling toys just… rarely do so well. The same could be said for a game based on a popular franchise. So how did War for Cybertron turn out? Roll out and find out!
The past few years have seen a pair of Transformer’s movies and with one more on the way Michael Bay has secured a new entry for a franchise that saw its spark shine brightly over two decades ago. While the spark never really faded for die-hard fans, it spread to a new generation recently and a game was inevitable. Now we get a game whose events happen prior to events of the Bay films placing itself right into the events of the Cybertronian War, a pivotal moment in the Transformer’s mythos.
The Decepticon side of the story follows none other than Megatron himself as he endeavors to obtain Dark Energon. This is a twist on a re-occurring plot seen in the TV show and its a clever way to enter the Transformer’s world. You can choose to play as one of 3 Decepticons in Megatron’s squad, each unit able to use different abilities as you defeat enemy units. Megatron leads the first half the story as a protaganist leading up the second half. The Autobot Campaign follows Optimus and the fledgling Autobots struggling to oppose Megatron. Its a great thing to see Optimus prior to becoming a “Prime” You’ll follow Optimus as he rallies the remaining Autobots to an eventual counterattack against Megatron himself. I won’t explain much else about campaign to avoid spoilers but its pretty epic in scale with surprises and familiar faces appearing left and right.
The game consists of 10 Chapters, 1-5 focusing on the Decepticon Campaign and 6-10 following the Autobots to a resolution. The average chapter’s playtime on Hard is about 40-50 minutes of game time depending if you are playing with cooperative assistance or not. Once completed, each chapter can be returned to and has 8 “checkpoints” allowing you to leap back to wherever you like. Its a great feature considering that some achievements require hunting for items and so on. Hard difficulty is available at game start and you can Co-op up to 2 other people to battle your way through a beautiful rendition of Cybertron.
Gameplay consists of a 3rd person perspective and while you cannot duck or roll to find cover you’ll find the game is well crafted enough to allow boxes and wreakage to give you cover. The left trigger will zoom, ala Modern Warfare games allowing for accurate range firing. Right trigger fires, and you’ve got a double jump and so on. Pretty standard layout for a 3rd person game allowing you to get right into the action and jump into battle.
Now, at any moment during the game you can transform into your second form. Megatron is a tank, Starscream a jet, Optimus a truck and so on. Each transformation giving you a powerful weapon, typically with limited ammunition. In fact, all the weapons I’ve seen are ammunition based and if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself depending on a melee attack. Admittedly I was disappointed with the way this way was implemented; The weapon ( usually a mace or axe ) appears during the animation and disappears right away afterwards leaving you vulnerable until you do it again. I wish it had a mode where the offhand held a shield and the other held a melee weapons allowing for some Cybertronian-Rome style combat myself! It serves its function however and should be used when possible to save ammunition.
The weapons each have a purpose, range zooming, homing abilities and you’ll find many moments where you are deciding which two weapons you’ll carry with you. I recommend the Assault Rifle myself. Treated like a Counter Strike weapon I would zoom in, target the chest and get headshots on autobots with alarming frequency using the recoil to make the shot. Everyone will find a favorite weapon and given patience any weapon is about as deadly as the next.
Loads of characters from the show and a few nods to the expanded universe appear. Trypticon, Skyfire, even one of my all time favorites Omega Supreme makes an appearance for what feels like a huge mini-series with a heavy dose of plasma fire and nostalgia. I grinned like an idiot at a few character introductions (which I won’t spoil). Familiar sounds and dramatic battle music fit right in and the levels are varied and provide some great eye candy. The characters will be speaking with other remotely or within your squad discussing or, in Megatron’s case insulting each other. The unit chatter is great as you progress through the game. The voice work was so well made I laughed when Starscream commented how stupid the Autobots were, his companion Thundercracker replies that he’ll show Starscream that he’s even stupider then the Autobots. Starscream sarcastically replies “I’m sure you will Thundercracker, I’m sure you will” I laughed again writing that. Not ashamed.
It feels like such a short time ago when I watched Megatron gun down Optimus in the first few minutes of the Transformers Movie. That &&&&&&&& HotRod got in the way… Megatron actually yelling “Fall damn you, fall!” as he blasted Optimus over and over. I remember looking at my Optimus Prime figure and trying to wrap my head around the fact that he was actually dead in the cartoon. I just wasn’t sure how this was possible I mean he’s Optimus Prime (So is this guy &&&&&&&& but that’s besides the point)! Transformers is a franchise like few others, well loved by fans old and new. This game is a testament to what made the show great and what makes this game fun to play. Its called “character development”