Transformers: War for Cybertron Review
By - Regian
Over the last few years, Transformers games haven’t particularly been the cream of the crop. As for the movies? It’s best that I probably don’t speak much about my contempt for one Michael Bay. However, when I heard that High Moon Studios was given a completely clean slate from Hasbro to produce a new Transformers title that had no direct relation to either of the movies, I was quite excited to see the end result. Could this be the first great Transformers title of the 21st century?
Let’s start with the game’s premise. The game takes place on the home planet of both the Autobots and Decepticons, Cybertron. The civil war between the two factions is the main storyline for the game, which is divided into two campaigns that represent each faction. You can choose whichever campaign you want to start with, but for the whole thing to make sense you should probably play the campaign in chapter order. It should be noted that this story is set before the original cartoon series, so High Moon really got a great opportunity to set the story up from scratch. It’s not a particularly in-depth storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seats, but it’s just enough to keep you interested.
Gameplay wise, Transformers: WFC is a third-person shooter. I must say that the control scheme for the game is quite solid. Clicking the left stick transforms you back and forth between machine and vehicle modes, which is certainly a better transition than the last game’s transition input commands. Right trigger fires your weapon, your left and right bumpers activate your character’s special abilities. In fact, before the start of each chapter you get to select one of three characters for the chapter. Each one has a specific weapon and special. Knowing who has which ability is key when heading into a chapter, or even restarting a portion of a chapter. I personally stuck with characters with the barrier and spawn sentry abilities, such as Soundwave and Ratchet, when they were available to me during the campaign. Because, and I’ll fully admit, I’m a wuss who prefers to avoid direct confrontation. If something can help me defeat someone or something by proxy, I’m all for it.
Don’t judge me.
Through these chapters you’ll find yourself switching back and forth between machine and vehicle modes quite often. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, either. There’s certainly time being saved by having the ability to drive or fly to your next objective. Your objectives are clearly marked on the screen, as well. I get sick of these games that make you blindly guess where your next objective is. Having just the slightest idea on where your next objective and target is located is quite beneficial.
When it gets down to the action, there’s plenty of it. You’ll be fighting off sentries, big brute enemies, mechanical spiders and much more in your conquest of the campaign mode. To blast your enemies to smithereens, you have yourself an assortment of weapons: Machine guns, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles, chainguns, etc. While the weapons are certainly awesome, I did find myself in quite a few scenarios where I was searching up and down for extra ammunition. That’s my first complaint. I ran out of ammo way too frequently in the game and found myself in stretches of the game either having to melee my way out of a hectic scenario, or letting my CPU teammates do the job for me. It got a little frustrating at times.
My second complaint is more of a wish, to be honest. I wish that if High Moon gets selected to make another Transformers game, add some type of cover system. I have no issue with hiding behind barrels and walls, but I would prefer to be able to hunker down and shoot some blind fire at my enemies. However, since this game is aimed more towards an action-packed run and gun loving crowd, perhaps the cover system wouldn’t have worked out too good in the game. Again, I’d love to see this kind of thing implemented with a future title, if it ever comes.
Boss battles are quite exhilarating in WFC, too. Some of them in the early chapters are complete cakewalks. When you get closer to complete each faction’s half of the campaign, the difficulty ramps up pretty good. Things are constantly being thrown your way, and your first encounters with the later chapter bosses will see you die a few times before you can nail a pattern down on how they attack. The final chapter boss battles of each campaign are brutal. I know it took me a while to complete those final boss battles, the Autobot finale taking me almost a good full hour before I completed it. The sense of accomplishment for beating these finale bosses are quite rewarding, though. Not in just a personal sense, but each campaign completion unlocks a new character for your multiplayer enjoyment.
When it’s all said and done, the game should take you on average about six to eight hours to complete, depending on your skill. I ended up getting killed a lot, so it took me about eight or nine hours to complete on the normal difficulty setting. Once you complete the entire game, you get yourself a nice little ending credit that will sure to make long-time fans of the Transformers series grin from ear to ear.
Graphically, WFC is set in a rather dark setting. Metal and computer wiring are commonplace for a planet meant for machines. I’m not saying any of that is a bad thing; it really sets the mood of the game as you progress through both campaigns. Character models, especially the ones of the later boss battles, are done rather well.
Sound wise, the voice work in the game is terrific. If you’re a big fan of the cartoon series, you’ll find yourself right at home with the characters and their voice actors. Gunfire and explosions sound just okay, though. There’s not much of a “wow” factor to them, then again nobody is probably expecting a “wow” factor to begin with.
If playing solo isn’t your bag, you can invite your online buddies to tackle the game’s campaign mode with a drop-in and drop-out co-op mode for you and up to two more pals. Or you can even invite one more friend to play in WFC’s “Horde” mode, Escalation. You can either personally invite people to play either of these modes or choose to be paired up randomly with others on the Xbox Live service. Sadly, there's no option for an offline co-op campaign or Escalation mode.
If competitive play is more of your bag, you can take the game’s online versus modes out for a spin. Your standard deathmatch and team deathmatch modes are here, along with variants of capture the flag, conquest and point control modes to go along with a rather fun online offering.
Let’s not forget about your character customization for WFC’s online mode, which is rather robust. When you first head over to the online versus mode, you’ll have four classes in which you get to create one character apiece for. Your classes are: Scout, Scientist, Leader and Soldier. Each class has its own weapons set and abilities that you can unlock by gaining XP in multiplayer sessions. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Because in honesty, it seems based a bit off of a very familiar Activision shooting title’s multiplayer perks system. The more XP and levels you unlock, the more abilites, weapons and upgrades you are entitled too. There’s a nice chunk of stuff to unlock, too.
Overall, Transformers: War For Cybertron is a very fun title. High Moon Studios should be applauded for finally bringing to the table a Transformers game that is not only competent, but one that video game fans can truly appreciate even if they aren’t a Transformers fan. It all couldn’t have been done without Hasbro’s risk of letting High Moon have full creative control of the Transformers IP, though. It’s a risk that not only pays off in a big way for long-time Transformers fans, but for fans of action games in general.
- Great voice acting
- Excellent, fast-paced action
- Robust multiplayer component
- Running out of ammo way too often
- Generic cover system
- No offline co-op
Transformers: War For Cybertron was developed by High Moon Studios and published by Activision. A review copy for the Xbox 360 was provided by Activision. Completed both Autobot and Decepticon campaigns on Normal difficulty and unlocked 21 of 50 Achievements for 310 Gamerscore. Transformers: War For Cybertron is also available for the Playstation 3 and retails for $59.99.