Transformers: War for Cybertron
Far more then meets the eye
Transformers- Like major names such as Star Wars and Star Trek, they continue to remain in our modern popular culture even 2 and a half decades after they first crashed landed on Earth and rolled out ton continue their epic war. When many ask how they have been able to remain in this competitive field, it is, from my perspective, an interesting combination of epic battle, a human/robot friendship, character emotion, and the ability to deliver on their catch phrases, especially through the action figures. Since that time, millions of action figures have been sold, a 3D direct sequel TV series has been made along with many various spinoffs, and several films have been screened. In the past decade, Transformers weren’t exactly in the bright spotlight as they once were. While the Armada series was keeping the Transformers around, it wasn’t until Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay brought the franchise into a non-animated feature film for the first time on July 12, 2007 with the release of Transformers. Despite the disappointment of some audiences and what many consider to be the creation of the “Bay-apocalypse”, Transformers are once again in the popular spotlight.
If there’s anything that the transformers have not conquered, it has been their involvement in video games. While on the PlayStation 2, THQ created a gem with their game Transformers (based off the Armada line), the past few years have seen somewhat functional movie-licensed games based off the two Michael Bay films, Transformers (2007) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). But for one studio, this new opportunity for the Transformers is seen as an opportunity to do more then a film cash-in: it is the ability to pay exceptional fan service to all those who enjoyed the Transformers, regardless of what series or line was (Personally, I am a child of the Beast Wars/ Beast Machines line. Dinobot, you’re a legend!)
High Noon Studios had a high bar to reach for and a challenge to accomplish in this competitive software arena: to bring a high-quality game that makes gamers remember what Transformers is all about while welcoming those unfamiliar with Transformers into their world. Dare to unrealistic? I think not. Dare to believe this was possible? High Noon Studios did and they succeeded.
From publisher Activision and High noon Studios, this is Transformers: War for Cybertron, a game worthy of Primus! High Noon absolutely nailed the point of Transformers with its action set pieces, character delivery, wonderful game play, and exceptional single player. This is not including the escalation mode, campaign co-op, or the deep and fun multiplayer. Transformers: War for Cybertron is one of the big highlights of the summer and, unarguably, the Batman Arkham Asylum of 2010.
The game takes place in the 3rd Cybertronian War, millions of years before the Autobots and Decepticons ever arrive on Earth. In the chaos, Megatron begins his rise as supreme leader of the Decepticons and sets his sights on an ancient weapon that can tip the balance of the war but bring devastation to Cybertron. On the other side, a lone but strong Autobot continues his fight for the greater good but refuses taking command until a desperate time has him heed the call. His name is Optimus Prime.
The game plays as a third-person action shooter. If you’ve played any third-person shooter, the controls will be familiar to you. There is no cover system in the game play, which wouldn’t be necessary to begin with since you are a tall, powerful transformer. However, you do get your trademark transformation, which is far more useful then initially seen. Going to vehicle mode is incorporated into the game play with weapons and added abilities such as agility and personal weapons unique to the character. In robot mode, you gain an assortment of weapons from the battlefield ranging from grenade launchers to chain guns. You can also use unique abilities specific to the character you choose. For example, leaders, like Optimus, have war cry, which temporarily amplifies you and your party’s weapon damage while scientists, like Soundwave, can deploy a hover turret. The same goes for vehicle modes where some characters have ram ability and others can rapidly roll to avoid incoming fire. There are also weapons and item powerups scattered in each level so look closely.
The game’s single player is divided into 10 chapters with the Decepticons taking the first five and the Autobots in the last five. The sequence of events are in chronological order so it is more enjoyable to play the bad guys first to see how that leads to the good guys actions. High Noon Studios consulted Hasbro to create as authentic of a look as possible and to craft a very solid story. Hasbro has officially declared the single-player campaign to be canon so each event that occurs and action that is done is officially what really happened on Cybertron before the war came to our world. The game is filled with awesome cinematic set pieces and ever-changing environments. At first it looks like it all blends together, which makes sense since it is a dark, mechanical world ravaged by war.
As you progress through the chapters, the areas really open up to fully detailed underground labyrinths and stellar cities that really distinguish themselves. The settings compliment the action as you progress through challenging areas taking out hundreds of autobot or decepticons amidst explosions, cannon fire, and melee attackers. In the chaos is the frantic chatter of transformers giving orders or being slain. Your main transformers (Megatron, Optimus, etc.) have exceptional voice acting with dialogue that fits the respective characters as they had back in the generation 1 TV series of the 80’s. Peter Cullen once again returns for his role as Optimus Prime and needless to say, does the job he was meant for well. Frank Welker does not return to voice Megatron but for the voice actor who does, he does a very admirable job as well.
Finally, the single player has full campaign co-op, which is a nice new twist. If playing by yourself is awesome, the level increases when you have live players to your left and right. Each time I plugged in to play the campaign, I couldn’t help but smile and get excited for how well the overall package of the game play out. I really enjoyed the environments and how they complimented the transformers home world, but I greatly enjoyed the dialogue and the action. I couldn’t help but smile the entire time. On my first play through on Hard, the single player took roughly 12-14 hours to complete with incentive for replay value to acquire trophies and collectibles.
Obviously, the single player is the meat of the game. However, this is also the house that built Call of Duty, which means that there is some kind of longer lasting value. In the case of Transformers: WFC, there is a lot to delve into after the campaign.
First is escalation mode. Escalation mode allows you to play as your favorite transformer, including some mode exclusive ones, in a challenge room arena in the essence of Call of Duty’s Zombie mode. You get points for the enemies you destroy, how they’re destroyed, and healing your teammates. There are multiplier streaks, which are essential to last longer then the first few waves. You use the points earned to get more powerful weapons, over shields, ammo, health, and open new rooms to hold your ground. In some maps, you can also buy automatic turrets but I didn’t find them all that effective. The mode is different then other challenge rooms because it takes advantage of the vast, detailed environments of cybertron instead of a single building. Like all challenge room modes, its fun and intense, especially when you’re playing with a full party.
Transformers: WFC also comes complete with a full multiplayer. The multiplayer is divided into four separate classes: Soldier, Leader, scientists, and scouts. Each has their own unique abilities, weapons, advantages and disadvantages. Soldiers are all round transformers normally disguised as tanks. They can disperse and even amount of damage in long and close range with various weapons and melee attacks. Leaders are similar to soldiers, except they have longer health bars; carry warcry, and more powerful weapons, including their ram ability. Scientists can fly and access areas of a map that other transformers can’t. They have smaller health bars but utilize their flight modes and weapons to be proficient in combat, including the energon beam. Scouts are the smallest and have low health bars but excel at close quarters combat, stealth, and long range attacks such as the Null Ray. In these classes, you can customize your weapons class, abilities, and the look and skin of your character.
Each class has its own set of unique challenge tiers that earn you more XP. Each class is has their specific challenges that can also be completed for XP. Kill-streak also are here in standard flair but the bonuses you unlock per kill-streak are different for each class and are very effective. The maps are very well done and provide multiple areas to navigate and combat. There is never a choke point where players throw grenades or cannon fire. Campers are here and there but are primarily consisted of scouts which, when found, can easily be subdued. Each class maxes out at level 25. When each class is at 25 for a combined score of 100, you can reset to Prime mode which earns you respect, a trophy, a small icon never to your PSN ID/gamer tag in the game, and unique challenges at the price of resetting to level one. There are player still playing leaving plenty of deep space long after you are finished with the single player.
On a visual and audio stand point, Transformers; WFC is a huge achievement in capturing the world of Transformers. On a technical note, the game mostly functions but the part that doesn’t is the only real drawback. The game, at least on the PS3, requires a mandatory 4.5 gig install. With the DLC, it’s well over 5 gigs. It’s a small price to pay for this game but at this point in the PS3’s life cycle, I shouldn’t have to experience a massive install when I can play equally great games with virtually no install. Even with the install, there are occasional texture pop-ups and some slow-down in combat but nothing that cripples the game. Online, the game runs smoothly but occasionally lags. When it lagged, I left and attempted to find another lobby and then I was back in a functional game. As earlier indicated, the game is visually well done with color and sights that distinguish this world form other alien worlds. The characters themselves have taken a more mechanical yet futuristic look representing their planet of origin. While they move, they’ll occasionally have small moving parts showing off their robotic perspective. As previously mentioned, the voice dialogue is great. The other sounds are exceptionally well done; especially the transformation sounds, which have taken the inspiration, form the more recent films. Of other particular mentions are the weapons, explosions, and the hard rock/orchestra. Synthesized music that plays during your experience.
High Noon Studios certainly has gotten the touch when getting Transformers right. With its stellar fan service, exceptional single player campaign, and solid longevity in the multiplayer, Transformers: War for Cybertron brings everything you loved about these towering warriors in disguise right onto your home console. Even if you’re not a transformers fan, this game dares you to trek across the divide of games and fan service to experience an epic game and a great new future for these warriors. 5/5 stars or 9/10 or A/A +
-Roberto "Robknivz" Nieves