Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

“Certainly more meets the eye than the gamers’ fingertips here as beautiful visual scenes don’t translate the same level of excitement into the actual gameplay of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.”

The Transformers franchise while ever-popular, has never really achieved true greatness in the video game industry, despite the numerous and varied attempts to bring our favourite 1980’s robots to our fingertips. Thankfully things are progressively getting better for the Autobots and Decepticons as Fall of Cybertron incorporates a heap of action alongside some stunning visual segments to really bring out the best we’ve seen so far of Transformers. This might not be the best game you will play this year, but it’s certainly enjoyable and there’s plenty of robot carnage to be had for fans and newcomers alike. 

A key goal in Fall of Cybertron is to give players access to a variety of different Transformers in an attempt to change up gameplay style and tempo. This doesn’t come into fruition in the first half of the game however as the majority of your opening hours is spent with Optimus Prime. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the campaign mode never really finds harmony until the latter portions of the story. This is largely due to the action being entertaining but the pacing of the game being completely off. Fall of Cybertron has plenty of moments where you find yourself immersed in boring command prompts, watching sections of gameplay or footage – all the while giving you small amounts of action to really get stuck in to. That’s not to say that the earlier section don’t give a glimpse of what’s to come, on the contrary there are moments here that are thoroughly enjoyable, it’s just a shame they only begin flowing smoothly into one another when you’re more than half way through the game. 

When you gain access to the other Transformers that’s when the party really begins. Much like in Transformers: War for Cybertron, different robots have difference abilities ranging from air-combat, stealth gameplay and a more, direct artillery heavy approach. In particular the end-game is fantastic as the story switches you between characters on the fly in the middle of a hectic battle, really turning up the intensity and keeping you on your toes – thrilling stuff. 

Fall of Cybertron plays out much like any generic third-person shooter, but thankfully the variation in characters keeps the gameplay from becoming monotonous. Enemies although giant and made out of metal, are surprisingly easy to destroy, while you yourself are also relatively vulnerable when your shields are down. The best gameplay elements really occur when you find yourself in larger areas, especially those where you can fly around. Another standout element is the platforming, which is surprisingly fluid, especially when combined with cool shooting set pieces. This however really highlights one of Fall of Cybertron’s greatest weaknesses – the inability to streamline all these various gameplay combinations into one fluid experience. You feel the rigid tension as you progress from third person shooting to flying, to driving around or to bombarding enemies with melee attacks. These transitions are stiff and frustrating to deal with, but once you get stuck into the action, it is undeniably enjoyable.  

There are some cool additions and unfortunate omissions outside of Fall of Cybertron’s campaign mode too. Unlike War for Cybertron, this is a single player campaign mode, so no friends can jump on for a ride. However, the cooperative Horde mode Escalation returns and allows up to four players to get in on the action and defend against waves of mechanical machines. As with all Horde game modes, there’s plenty of tactics involved and with an in-game currency set up to help you survive, be sure to take only the best partners into the battlefield with you. 

Naturally there is also a competitive online mode present. All the standard game modes are available and the four variations of Transformers makes for highly entertaining, tactical and frantic matches, when you’re not interrupted by occasional lag. The best bit here is the ability to level up, earn experience and purchase a whole load of cool stuff, including aesthetic additions to make, wait for it, your own Transformer. Fans should go crazy for the customization options as you can tailor-make your own giant robot and show him off to the rest of the world in battle.

Speaking of technological hitches, what on Earth is wrong with the PlayStation 3 version of this game?! Issues with texture, resolution, loading times and system crashes make this a game you want to absolutely avoid on Sony’s console and I don’t say that often. The other two versions seem to be good and don’t share the same issues as their cross-platform counterpart. 

My experience with the Xbox 360 version left a lasting visual impression – Fall of Cybertron is certainly a beautiful looking game. The in-game sounds of battle are also incredibly immersive but dialogue and narrative are pushing on very cheesy, which is a shame. There’s a certain affinity gamers have with giant robots, so I feel a better job could have been done with trying to bring players closer to their favourite Transformers. Due to the game diving you in and out of characters so frequently, you can’t be surprised that no one really gets enough time to shine. 

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron valiantly tried to correct the mistakes of its predecessor, but as a result discovered its own minor problems and issues. Kudos must be given as the game clearly tried to be more versatile and action-orientated, but more work needs to be done to smooth out the process and get all the different gameplay elements working together in sync. Fans of Transformers will have an enjoyable time with this addition to the series, but be prepared for occasional issues and some pacing problems. 

7.5 | Gameplay | 
The games pacing means it takes a while for you to really settle into the action. However, considering the variety in Transformers, ways to use them and well-designed maps, it’s almost impossible not to have a good time. Some gameplay elements are obviously a lot better than others including flying or the platforming. Action gets hectic and thrilling near the end, only for you to complete it and jump into the online game modes or Escalation Horde made to keep the Transformers party going. 

8.0 | Presentation | 
From a visual perspective Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is beautiful. The level design is very impressive but the games pacing issues means the campaign itself is presented in a convoluted and frustrating manner. Too many cut scenes, prompts and static moments interfere with the actual gameplay. 

7.0 | Replay Value | 
There’s no reason to replay the campaign other than to check out the last portion of the game, which is awesome. Competitive online modes could have you hooked for a while, especially if you like making your own Transformer. Escalation like any other Horde mode, will keep you busy for a little while. 

7.5 | Final Thoughts | 
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a promising addition to the series. Certain changes have been made that suggest that this franchise is heading in the right direction, but it’s just not there quite yet. Issues with pacing really hinder the experience but once the game gets going in the latter sections, it’s a whole load of fun. Perhaps another instalment is what’s needed to really flesh out anymore problems and amend them to make a wonderful Transformers game for the future. In the mean time, enjoy this because Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a good game.

Igor Kharin. 

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