Transformers: War for Cybertron: The Video Game...
Transformers: War for Cybertron is, from my experience, a rare thing. It is not everyday that a game completely surprises you, providing a first rate experience, and also revitalizing your interest in a tired and seemingly hollow franchise. Transformers succeeds at not only being a fantastic game, but also, the most successful modern reimagining of the classic 80's franchise. Perhaps the changes may be to drastic to satisfy die hard Transformer fans, but the more casual robot lover will find a perfect synthesis of old and new.
Although I am well versed in the history of Transformers, I have never had any serious interest in the series. I have been exposed to the classic 80's television show, the original movie, and viewed the modern Michael Bay reboot. To date, I have never found anything compelling about forty foot altruistic robots, and find the whole concept pretty flimsy if you- you know- actually think about it. Fortunately, Transformers: War for Cyberton isn't about strong narrative, acting or character motivations. This is a game where stuff gets blown and shot up real good, perhaps proving that the best modern utilization of Transformers may be within video games; as it is a medium that has a much higher tolerance for the inevitable leaps of faith that go along with excepting this wacky Energon infused universe.
Transformers: War for Cybertron takes place during the civil war that prompted the Autobots and Decepticons to abandon their home world. The narrative is simple, and pretty boring, but it does a good enough job of providing a reason to shoot stuff. To be fair, there have been a number of decent third person shooters this year, many of which are of an equal or higher quality in many respects, but, I don't think I've had as much pure childlike fun in any other game this year. Shooting stuff in Transformers is a responsive and rewarding experience, that takes a much smaller toll on your soul with the absence of human targets. Autobots and Descepticons animate gorgeously, with multiple forms, abilities and dismemberments, in just enough variety. The graphics, overall, are smart and stylish, capitalizing on the strange home world of Cybertron. The variety in the game is also commendable, as you are free to choose your character and weapons from chapter to chapter; each which has a variety of new and interesting twists built in. Every time I thought I had seen it all, the developers smartly pull out another clever set-piece or gameplay gimmick. Also, despite the poor story, and questionable acting, everything is still presented admirably. It may be all fluff, but at least the cut scenes look nice, and provide just the right amount of action and detail to satisfy. What needs mention, however, is the (seemingly) intentionally horrible voice acting. Every terrible line is delivered with gusto, and often mimics the quality of the original show. This may be my favorite aspect of the game, as I was often in stitches over the (presumably) ironic campiness of it all.
Multi-player is where Transformers really capitalizes on it's great gameplay and concepts, as the game really blossoms when played with friends. You can play the whole single player online or enjoy competitive or cooperative modes. None of the multi-player is surprisingly layered or fresh, but is expansive in a way that is impossible to expect. For example, all of the different transformers have varying abilities and proficiencies, that make for some interesting combat strategies. Additionally, the competitive modes allow you to customize your perks and weapons, giving you an incentive to return again and again. Similarly the novelty of transforming into a jet in multi-player never gets old, and separates the game from other similar experiences. It really is a surprisingly quality package of online modes, making it a compelling game for those who need something fun to play with friends.
Personally, I am extremely thankful for Transformers: War for Cyertron this summer. It was starting to feel like a pretty usual summer gaming drought, but Transformers is a welcome way to get over the hump. It just goes to show that even games that aren't on your radar can sneak up and surprise you in their quality. I completely wrote this game off as being yet another shameless cash in on a nostalgic and past it's prime franchise. It just goes to show that some robots truly are more then meets the eye.