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Transformers: War for Cybertron

 

Transformers: War for Cybertron

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
 
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Author:

Developer: High Moon Studios
Publisher: Activision

Official Site

Xbox 360 Features:

Players: 1
Online Multiplayer: 2-10
Co-Op: 2-3 players (2-4 players escalation mode)
196 KB to Save Game
HDTV: 720p/1080i/1080p
In-Game Dolby Digital

PS3 Features:

Players: 1
Co-Op: 2-3 players (2-10 Online)
5 GB Required Hard Drive Space
HD Video Output 480P and 720P

Having reviewed the previous two Transformers games on the Xbox 360, most recently Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, my expectations were rock bottom for Transformers: War for Cybertron. Repetitive, rushed and sloppy are just a few words used to describe some of the previous Transformers video games on the next generation console. So when Transformers: War for Cybertron for the Xbox 360 and PS3 arrived at my home office, it’s safe to say I was looking forward to this one about as much as I look forward to my Mom’s meatloaf. Much to my surprise however, Transformers: War for Cybertron has left me pleasantly delighted. After some extended playtime with the game, I think Activision may have finally delivered a Transformers game fans of the franchise can be proud of.

Graphics

As far as the visuals are concerned, Transformers: War for Cybertron is more hit than miss. In terms of the negatives, some the action sequences can become a little too chaotic making it difficult to see the enemies. The landscapes can appear bland at times and enemies just tend to blend into their surroundings. It is not a problem when you only need to blow away a few enemies; but once you engage in some of those intensive big battle sequences, enemies are hard to pick up. Another disappointment would have to be the repetitive look of many of the levels. A lot of the game’s levels leave you with that “been there and done that" feeling.

In terms of the positives, Transformers: War for Cybertron takes place on Cybertron, a mechanical world detailed just as you would imagine it. The environments are well-crafted and the game does a great job of capturing that Transformers feeling. The world comes to life in the game and despite some repetitiveness it manages to keep things interesting and lively. Whether it be fighting across the planet’s war-torn surface, or in the deep metallic tunnels of Cybertron, you do get a decent amount of variety with the game’s graphical engine.

Last but not least I was somewhat taken aback by how good the Transformers themselves looked. The overall detail of the Autobot and Decepticon characters is very sharp and they are certainly comparable to their real life animated counterparts as they are easily recognizable for fans of the franchise. At a quick glance you can tell the developers spent a significant amount of time perfecting their look. The enemy AI bots are also very detailed, exceeding my expectations. The actual transformation from vehicles to robots is very slick and looks great on an HD display. The in-game cut scene sequences are visually appealing and certainly add to the overall look of the game.

Sound

Overall, the audio in Transformers: War for Cybertron is very good and is certainly the best I have heard from any Transformers game in recent memory. For starters, the voice acting is very strong. All the Transformers sound authentic and just like their real-life counterparts. Peter Cullen essentially steals the show as Optimus, which comes as no surprise. He sounds fantastic, and as I just mentioned, very authentic. Megatron sounds equally great and his voice stand-in does a good job. The rest of the cast is excellent, accurately conveying the personalities of their given characters.

The game’s sound effects are top notch. The sounds of cannons blasting, lasers firing, landscapes crumbling, swords thrashing and other in-game Transformers sound effects that we have all heard at one time or another, deliver. The music is decent, albeit forgettable. I just did not find myself humming any tunes afterwards; in fact, the score left no lasting impressions with me.

Gameplay

Transformers: War for Cybertron is a third person shooter that takes place prior to the 1980’s Transformers: Generation 1 animated series. Prior to the Transformers landing on Earth, they lived on the fictional machine planet Cybertron. The majority of the game takes place on the Transformers’ home world of Cybertron at the beginning of the civil war.

Transformers: War for Cybertron has two distinct campaigns, one for each faction. The story of the Decepticon campaign is a prelude to the Autobot campaign's story. Both campaigns can be played in single-player or cooperatively via online multiplayer, and can drop in or out of the game at any time. If you play the game in chronological order, you play the first chapters as the Decepticons, learning how Megatron got his rise to power. You could start with the Autobots, but the whole story would feel out of whack and you would miss pertinent tid-bits if you choose this path. All-in-all it’s not a bad storyline but let’s face it, not many gamers are playing this game for its storyline.

Transformers: War for Cybertron consists of ten chapters that spawn across various settings on the planet Cybertron. Before you start each chapter, you can choose to play as one of three transformers; all of whom have different abilities. Fortunately you are not limited to only a few robots. As you progress along in the single player campaign, you get to play as various transformers; all have the capabilities of transforming. Much to my surprise transforming is rarely necessary or critical to success. That being said, being able to transform at any time is incredibly satisfying and is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game. Transforming into vehicles is obviously a critical aspect to the game and the developers did a fantastic job with this component. The transition is quick as well so you are never really vulnerable at any point when making the transformation. As I mentioned, transforming is not a necessity but more of a tactic. You will be pleased to know that all missions fit to accommodate you whether playing in Vehicle or Robot mode. Granted, there are times you cannot get across certain points unless you are in robot mode; but rest assured you drive a great deal in this game.

Overall the controls are fairly straight forward; however, it did take me some time to get acclimated with them. Some of the basic controls such as using the sticks to move and firing with the right trigger are present. However, clicking with the left thumbstick to transform, and clicking the right thumbstick to melee attack, seems awkward. All the robot controls are straight forward until you switch to a vehicle and initially I had a heck of time getting my bearings right. Suddenly the left trigger becomes the boost button and the right bumper turns your vehicle 180 degrees. After about 45 minutes I had the controls down, but that initial learning curve was troublesome.

Once you become adjusted to the game’s controls, Transformers: War for Cybertron really becomes a hoot. The atmosphere and the way the levels play out will very much remind gamers of a Halo and Gears of War style of play. It can be intense at times and the action can get crazy; yet at the end of the day it really is lots of fun to play. You progress along through the various levels rather quickly so it can feel like the experience is a short one. However, if you slow down and try to search for the many collectibles, then the single player mode could take 15 hours. That said, most gamers will likely complete the game in less than 10 hours, simply because they will find themselves in a rush to get to the next level to see what the next chapter holds.

One of the frustrating aspects of the single player mode would have to be the lack of ammunition. Not to mention, there does not appear to be a large selection of weapons. Far too often I was running out of ammo, which should not be an issue for a game targeted towards younger gamers. You will quickly realize this shortcoming in the first 15 minutes of gameplay; so conserving your ammo becomes a critical component to the single player experience. Some extra ammunition splattered throughout the game would have been helpful.

Transformers: War for Cybertron does have a good deal of exploration. As you investigate the game's various levels you will encounter containers of ammunition, healing cubes, different weapons, and overshields. Your special abilities have cool downs, which are easily and quickly replenished by collecting energon (the life source for Transformers) from fallen enemies. All-in-all, this exploration element does give Transformers: War for Cybertron some replay value.

As I suggested above, Transformers: War for Cybertron is not short on action. Many of the missions involve clearing out an area filled with Decipticons or Autobots (depending on which side you wish to play as) and then repeat. There are some objective based missions but the majority of them involve lots of destruction and carnage. It does get very repetitive but can be very enjoyable at times.

The AI enemies are not the smartest bunch, but they do offer up quite the challenge as you progress deeper into the game. That being said, some of their battle tactics leave you scratching your head more often than not. Also, when your foes transform into vehicles all bets are off. The vehicle Transformers can be pesky as you try to focus in to take them out, and whenever you get in close they are quick to drive away and make their escape. It seems there is no rhyme or reason to the combat and often it becomes a test of patience more than anything else.

The multiplayer component of the game is surprisingly enjoyable and deep. I was impressed at the number of game types and I was shocked by how many gamers were playing online the other night. It was a weeknight at 9:00pm Pacific time and over 5000 gamers were playing the game. Not a bad number at all. After a few minutes into online play, I quickly realized why so many were playing the game online. It is truly a blast and much more enjoyable than I expected.

Once you jump into the online menus, you can choose between several classes and customize your transformer. You can then select weapons, and basic abilities. Similar to the Call of Duty online modes, Transformers: War for Cybertron features an XP system. Whether it’s surviving for more than 30 seconds or simply killing the enemy, Transformers: War for Cybertron features a terrific little upgrade system that makes the online play addictive. It is not as deep as the CoD upgrade system; however, it is certainly impressive for a Transformers game.

The multiplayer aspect has all the modes you would expect such as Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch and a Capture the Flag mode. Many gamers spend the majority of their time in the Team Deathmatch mode; however, Transformers: War for Cybertron “Escalation” mode is a blast. Those who enjoyed the “Horde” mode in Gears of War will love this. Here, non-stop waves of robots attack until the player(s) are defeated. In summary, the developers delivered a solid multiplayer component which cannot be said for any other Transformers game to date.


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