Thursday, 15 July 2010

Game Review: Transformers War for Cybertron

Transformers: War for Cybertron. TRANSFORRRMMEEEEEERRRS!!! Just hearing the epic first line from the 80's cartoon brings back fond memories of sticky fingers struggling with complex transforming mechanisms, bouncing up and down on the sofa with glee, re-enacting the latest adventures of the valiant Autobots and the villainous Decepticons. It is a very special bond indeed that exists between a boy and a small plastic robot that also turns into a truck.

Transformers: War for Cybertron, rather than the latest Shia Lebouef-infused douche-baggery, is based on the original designs and story of the Transformers canon. Set during the conflict that led the transforming robots to flee their home planet, the game views the war from both sides, giving the player the opportunity to control both Autobot and Decepticon forces. The ability to play through each chapter of the campaign as a different Transformer really appealed to the collector in me, especially since the games features old favourites like Starscream, Soundwave, Ironhide and of course the leaders Megatron and Optimus Prime.

The main game plays as a solid third person shooter, with the Transformers having access to an array of high tech space-age weaponry, which are really just fancy versions of machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns and more. High Moon Studios did a good job of integrating the character's transforming abilities into the gameplay. The standard run-and-gun action is often broken up with brief vehicle sections, and the feeling of rushing up to an enemy in car form before transforming and destroying them with a quick melee attack is definitely thrilling.

The representation of the Transformers and their home planet Cybertron is spot-on, with intricate animated details on both the characters and the environment. My only quibble was that after four or five missions, purple and red metal corridors, no matter how intricately rendered, become monotonous. The highlight of the single-player campaign for me were the chapters featuring the flying Transformers, as the ability to gain the high ground during firefights as well as swap weapons while transformed made the game feel more complete. Also, the dedicated flying sequences were superb, reminding me of the Millennium Falcon's desperate escape from an exploding Death Star! Unfortunately, these chapters only make up a small part of the main game, and its a shame that there weren't more.

The online component of Transformers:WFC features a three-player co-op version of the single player campaign, a competitive multiplayer arena and Escalation, a co-operative survival mode (think Gears of War 2's horde, but with robots). The inclusion of the character's transforming abilities and special perks and powers make the multiplayer a fairly unique and fun (funique?) experience, if not a terribly deep one. Its no Halo 3, but it will definitely extend the lifetime of the game.

While I may not be the biggest Transformers fan in the world, I can recognise when a franchise is treated with care and respect. Activision and High Moon Studios have done an excellent job of bringing the series to life, from the superb graphics and spot-on voice acting to the famous 'ree-ee-aa-oow' noise (you try spelling out the 'transform' sound effect!). Tranformers:WFC is fairly fun and has moments of brilliance, but falls short of spectacular. I would heavily suggest that fans of the series should transform, then proceed to roll out and buy a copy!

Lukao gives Transformer: War for Cybertron 8 Energon cubes out of 10.
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