The relationship between videogames and the Transformers franchise has been messy to say the least. Despite some decent outings, such as the PS2/Xbox game based on the toys in 2004 before the first movie was released, there’s been something missing whenever these ‘robots in disguise’ make the transition to games. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron aims to master this one and for all, but is this the quality experience fans have been waiting for?
Let’s start with probably the most important part of any Transformers game, the transformations themselves. It’s a simple pleasure jumping from a platform, transforming halfway down and speeding away as a car when you land, you want to feel like a Transformer. The game does a good job of integrating these moments into the stages, even if the vehicle and on foot sections are labelled quite clearly in the environment. More often than not, you’ll be using your vehicular form to escape an on-mass attack from the enemy, where so many bullets are flying across the screen that even cover won’t protect you.
Obviously, some transformations work better than others, and surprisingly it’s those on wheels that suffer in Fall of Cybertron. The driving is severely impacted by poor control decisions, especially when compared to the Transformers that use the air rather than the road to traverse the environment. Thanks to the set piece led level progression though, this rarely becomes a problem in the action heavy stages.
As the name suggests, for the most part, Fall of Cybertron takes place on the Transformer home planet, and so everything you do is relative in size. The game plays much more like a standard cover-based 3rd person shooter because of this, and most of the time you won’t even realise you are playing as a massive robot stomping across the landscape. It works at those times when you need more accuracy dealing with enemies, but makes the set piece moments less impactful. This is especially true when these scenes transition into cut-scenes which brilliantly reflect the size and weight of the heroes.
All of that said, the gameplay itself is great fun; the variety of weapons on offer is especially exciting. Each of the Autobots has their own proficiencies when it comes to combat, and throughout the campaign you’ll change the character you control enough times to give each stage a unique feel. One minute you are defending the home base as Optimus Prime, the next you are Ratchet blasting foes with a huge variety of weaponry. The flight sections are especially exciting, and these are the moments you feel closest to actually ‘being’ a transformer.
The graphical style of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is certainly interesting, though. This universe has never been so colourful, which makes for a nice contrast with the ‘realistic’ style seen in the Michael Bay movies. This makes up for any technical inconsistencies, even though the PS3 version suffers from drops in frame rate a bit too often to go unnoticed. The set piece moments are where the game shines, and whilst this is no God Of War, there are plenty of times you’ll be taken aback by an incredibly epic moment. The sound design is impressive too and this is where the game reflects the Hollywood grandure we’ve come to expect from the series.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has the potential to be the best Transformers game ever made, and yet fails in some fundamental ways. The poor control choices, often boring level design and technical issues hold this back from greatness. This is a solid 3rd person shooter, with exciting weapons and plenty of dramatic set piece moments to enjoy, it’s just often an effort to look past the flaws at the decent game lying underneath.
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