We get hands-on with the latest Transformers game from High Moon and Acitivion, here's what we reckon.
Published on Jun 5, 2012
Like many of the older, more peculiar licences from the Eighties that have found a place in today's Hollywood, you'll either love or hate the Transformers.
And of those that do love them, there'll be another sub-set of fans that love or hate Michael Bay's kaleidoscopic movies. What's retained in this second game, and what is arguably its greatest asset, is the distance High Moon has managed to maintain to Bay's Hollywood vision, despite the Dark Of The Moon tie-in getting developed by a subsidiary team at High Moon.
But, when Teeg’s studio actively sets out to use the original toy line (or Gen 1, for those in the know) as its inspiration, you have a visual style that's much more in keeping with the series' roots and far more interesting than ILM's patchy CGI and noisy visual design.
A emphasis on a single story campaign to avoid repetition
As a team it's been important this is addressed and much of the games structure has fundamentally been changed with this in mind. Now, there are no longer two dual campaigns running along side each other.
The story of how the Decepticons and the Autobots ultimately leave the crumbling Cybertron is now told in a seamless, continuous narrative with both sides represented as and when the story requires.
Four-player campaign co-op is the unfortunate casualty of this though, but High Moon is hoping its revamped multiplayer more than makes up for it.
Two bespoke narratives sounds great on paper, too, but as Tieger points out, that means the player is essentially playing the same game twice which, rather depressingly, results in two tutorials as well as two of everything else as well.
The Dinobots are a melee combat addition to the game.
Freedom to create an art style fitting for Transformers
The art department has allowed its imagination to run riot and the result is environments that are not only huge in scope, but offer interesting places for the player to visit; both in a narrative and a gameplay sense.
More than War For Cybertron, Fall Of Cyberton is exploring the Transformers back-story and expanding on their newly invented history. What’s interesting, though, is that it's doing this through the player's exploration and interaction with the world.
Of course, this also means that you're not just running down shiny metallic corridors all the time, too. High Moon has been given the opportunity to flesh out the licences back-story and it’s using the opportunity as a way of bringing fan favourite characters to the fore while simultaneously delivering much needed gameplay innovations.
A variety in gameplay means there's more to Transformers
As solid as the gameplay was, there was every reason to predict Fall Of Cybertron would make many of the same mistakes as its predecessor. The Dinobots and Bruticus (a collection of Decepticons called the Combaticons that come together to form a larger than life Transformer) add a melee layer of gameplay that sits alongside the standard shooting.
It’s yet another collection of controls that need to be mastered on top of the rather complex set used to map the way the regular Transformers shift forms between their different states, but its simplicity makes up for this. Suddenly, sword-slashes, flourishes and stabs can be performed with the press of a few buttons.
It’s yet another change to the gameplay that stops things becoming repetitive and it bodes well for Fall Of Cybertron’s direction. High Moon has made very conscious steps to build on the previous titles good points and to dispel the bad.
It takes its cues from the likes of God Of War for melee combat.
An emphasis on cinematic moments
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sense of scale attributed to every single set-piece High Moon was brave enough to show us. Beginning the game as series favourite Bumblebee, we see the Autobots’ ark, heading towards a rip in space (and potential safety), come under attack from Megatron’s fleet.
At times it can feel like the Autobots are constantly on the back foot. As the ship begins to disintegrate from the vicious attacks from a huge robotic tentacle, Megatron and Optimus engage in mortal combat.
It’s a gameplay focused cinematic moment that sees Bumblebee crawling towards the pair as the walls around them are sucked into the blackness of space.
This is quite happily expanded upon in the more traditional Transformers action moments, too. Starscream, and his ability to fly, shows off the scope of these new levels – huge hub areas, interconnected by vast corridors that give a fantastic sense of verticality.
Improvements to enemy design and AI
The enemy design has been infused with this ethos and also sees a number of new creations that attempt to fool you by shifting form, mid-attack, in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
To ensure this doesn’t fall down as soon as players open fire, High Moon is proud to announce that its AI has gone through a significant evolution, making sure these transformations occur organically and to the gameplay’s benefit.
Optimus and the Autobots are back on Cybertron and on the offensive. Metroplex, a huge skyscraper-sized Autobot towers over the battlefield, its foot flying past the scenery as it takes one step over everything. In a pitched firefight with the Decepticons, Optimus is able to pick specific targets out of the carnage and send Metroplex to do his worst.
It’s what a Transformers game should do. There’s a reason the licence has lasted as long as it has, and rarely does it have anything to do with the huge range of identical characters.
High Moon has been creative enough to approach the problems a Transformers game proposes and with one eye on the resulting gameplay.