Call me a lapsed Transformers fan. And by lapsed, I mean I loved the original cartoon series as a kid â€” and certainly cajoled my parents into buying the toys â€” but havenâ€™t touched the franchise since. So seeing Transformers: Fall of Cybertron was a weird trip down memory lane. Thankfully, it also looks to be a solid action title with a deep respect for the Transformers world.
Following on from predecessor War of Cybertron, the latest game by developer High Moon Studios details the events surrounding (obviously) the fall of the planet that the Transformers come from. The Decepticons have almost entirely taken over, so the Autobotsâ€™ entire mission is to survive long enough to get on the Ark and get the hell out of there. It was pointed out to me that story told here has been sanctioned by Hasbro as official, which should be an interesting draw for longtime fans.
So what else is interesting here? Well, the buzzword appears to be â€˜variationâ€™. There are a huge number of characters in the Transformers universe, and a lot of them were playable. The idea is to make each robot feel unique to control. So Vortex, for example, can fly around as a ship or transform into a robot who specialises in sonic booms. Softening up the opposition from the sky before landing and going in for the kill looked quite fun.
Then the same level â€” an attack on an Autobot outpost â€” was played again, only this time Vortex became merely one of the arms of Bruticus, one of several Voltron-like giant Transformers made from a combination of smaller ones. Playing as Bruticus did indeed seem like a very different experience: suddenly, every enemy was tiny, and entire platforms and bridges could be disposed of with one swipe.
At that moment, though, I suddenly wished the game used an engine like Diceâ€™s Frostbite 2, which powers the Battlefield series and is known for its lovely rendered destructible terrain. It was a bit disappointing to see some pre-canned explosions happen when my giant Transformer arm swiped down on a bridge, and then have the whole thing disappear quickly. I guess Iâ€™m just spoiled by other games that do terrain destruction a lot better.
Moving on to the Autobot side of things, I was shown a smaller guy who transforms into a speedy tank. This level felt a bit more like any other third-person action game, but everything moved forward at a fun, frenetic pace, and it always felt like you were part of a hectic, crowded battlefield.
Finally, the action switched again to show Grimlock, the leader of the Dinobots. Man, I had completely forgotten how ridiculous this guy was! Unlike other Transformers, he has to build up a rage meter before he can transform into a T-Rex. When he did, all I could think was his little arms looked absolutely ridiculous, but thatâ€™s just a result of my adult brain pouring cold water over my childhood memories.
Overall, the action looked fast and varied, although despite that, it still had a bit of a generic feeling, like Iâ€™d seen this kind of thing before. Thatâ€™s not a bad thing necessarily â€” there just needs to be enough polish in here to see things through.
You wonâ€™t have to wait long to find out whether itâ€™s a goer â€” Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is out very, very soon.
The Good: Variety in gameplay; transforming is fun.
The Bad: Action still looks a bit generic.
The Ugly: Some colour, but still so much brown!