Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
While Transformers has been a distasteful and poorly scripted piece of cinema-going trash of late, High Noon studios pulled a worthwhile gem out of the bag with War for Cybertron. Taking the franchise back to its roots was the best possible route to glory for a franchise that has never had a great showing in the realm of video games, and Fall of Cybertron aims to continue the success story.
The plot will come as no shock to anyone that knows the series’ history (or can read the title) and it doesn’t disappoint. Broken up over 13 chapters, players will take control of a selection of famous robots, both Decepticon and Autobot in flavour.
The campaign essentially provides a great practice ground for the upcoming multiplayer component, but that’s not say that the campaign is a lazy and overly lengthy tutorial. Playing as different Autobots affords players the chance to use stealth, brute force and immense killing power.
Sections that involve Grimlock and Bruticus are only challenging on the higher difficulty levels, but do make for fun set-pieces. Stealth sections are fun, in their own right, but are never overly complicated. The mix of gameplay styles keeps the game varied, and the final levels really bring all that together.
There was always the risk that FoC would find it hard to break new ground after the success of WFC, but it manages to improve on every aspect of the latter. The controls feel much tighter and now include more modern mechanics, like camera swapping, which brings a greater level of fluidity to the non-cover based shooter.
The audio in FoC is stellar, with original voice actors reprising their roles, an impressive sound-bank, and a host of explodey boom noises. It’s a bombastic and explosive game that keeps the audio fresh and interesting.
The animations are brilliant. Each transformation is fantastic and different, the way in which guns swap is handled with the same flair. There are so many moving parts it’s hard to believe they actually pulled it off; but they did.
Unfortunately there is a negative. The enemy design is lacklustre and repetitive and there seems to be little change since the first instalment. While it takes a lot of effort to redesign a whole campaign’s worth of bad guys (or good guys, depending on what way you look at it), we could have done with a few more enemy types to mix up the action.
While the game flows rather smoothly, there are some quite noticeable frame rate issues and out-and-out visible stuttering when the action gets extremely hectic. Explosions fill the screen and the game begins to drag before kicking back into full speed. It’s not a major issue, but it is right in your face.
Fall of Cybertron is a shooter at its heart, and it never claims to be any more. The campaign is fun and varied, with some great voice acting and plot twists that carry the story to its conclusion. It’s well worth your time before playing Escalation or competitive multiplayer.
While the few multiplayer modes on offer won’t set the world ablaze, the ability to transform on the fly raises the stakes on what could have been just an above average shooter, and is essentially saved by the franchise itself.
Game modes are team based and vanilla at best, but the mixture of body types (planes, cars and tanks) keeps the gameplay fresh faced and entertaining. The customisation options are great, and there are plenty of options to create your perfect Transformer, pick its colours and send it to war.
Escalation returns to provide more ‘horde’ style gameplay and it’s a good thing too as co-op has been sliced from the campaign. Everybody loves horde, don’t they? Blasting wave after wave of AI bots is fun for you and your friends.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a great return for High Moon after their attempt at a Transformers movie tie-in. All your favourite Robots return, with new additions to the roster and new gameplay styles, all wrapped up in a great package. Sure it has its flaws, but they’re the equivalent of a minor scratch in the paintwork, which are overshadowed by tonnes of fun.
FoC is a great start to the new gaming season in the run up to the Christmas period, and is definitely one of the best shooters of the year, and most certainly the best in the franchise.