In 2010 High Moon Studios proved to the world that good Transformers games actually exist with their title Transformers: War for Cybertron. By delivering fantastic third-person action gameplay, stellar multiplayer, and the ability to transform at any time, War for Cybertron was what Transformers fans have always dreamed of. The game, however, was far from perfect. The environments looked exactly the same, the enemy AI wasn’t all that smart, and the narrative of the story left players wanting more.
Fall of Cybertron fixes all of this. High Moon Studios wasn’t satisfied with only pleasing Transformers fans; they wanted to please hardcore gamers everywhere. Fall of Cybertron brings drastic changes to every aspect of the game, making it more of a re-imagining of War for Cybertron, rather than a sequel.
Fall of Cybertron takes place right after the events of War for Cybertron. Cybertron is dying, and the Autobots make a desperate attempt to flea in order to survive while the Deceptions are mercilessly trying to stop them. The story sounds simple, but the narrative is astounding. Each level follows a different character, from the heroic Optimus Prime to the mighty Bruticus. As you progress through the game you see the story slowly come together through the eyes of many iconic faces. Whether or not you are a fan of the Transformers franchise, it’s hard not to become invested in the characters you meet.
Since each level focuses on an individual character, High Moon made the risky decision to take out the coveted three-player co-op mode. While I miss playing the story with other players, using a character with a completely unique skill set is much more enjoyable. Levels are completely tailored to a character’s skill, so each level is a new experience.
While this method certainly enhances the gameplay and story, it makes some levels feel a little too linear. There is also a small issue with the pacing of levels. After playing an adrenaline-fueled hour of Optimus Prime, the story shifts to Cliffjumper, an Autobot who uses stealth tactics. The level was fun, but after destroying hundreds of deceptions with big guns and air raids, switching immediately to stealth felt kind of slow.
High Moon also changed the controller interface. Rather than having two mediocre abilities mapped to the two bumper buttons, an ability absolutely crucial to survival is mapped to the right bumper, while a dodge roll and dash (previously an ability given to certain characters) is mapped to the let bumper. Players are now given the ability to switch shooting arms buy simply pressing the B button (on an Xbox controller). These subtle changes make the game much faster paced than its predecessor. You’ll be shocked as to how much you’ll use these new abilities.
The weapons system has received a complete overhaul, as well. As you traverse across each level you’ll come across Teletraan 1 stores where you can upgrade and purchase weapons, perks, and consumable items. These aren’t just minor tweaks; they really change how a weapon can turn the tide of battle. You can even rate items down to an individual upgrade, letting other online players know what’s worth spending money on.
The multiplayer is what truly shines in Fall of Cybertron. There are four competitive modes: team death match, conquest, capture the flag, and a the new head hunter mode. While each game offers a different experience, team death match seems to be the most popular competitive mode so far. I haven’t found any issues with the game modes, but the maps seem way too big for 6 on 6 battles. I found my self driving around the map for a good two minutes before I found where the real action was.
Similarly to War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron allows the player to use four different multiplayer classes, each with its own unique ability. While the vehicle modes (jet, car, truck, and tank) have remained the same, the powers that each class has at its disposal (and even health bars) have been significantly tweaked.
The best part about the competitive multiplayer is the character customization. Aside from choosing different abilities, perks, and weapons, you can now create your very own Transformers character by swapping out different body parts. Even if your not a fan of the franchise, fully customizing your personal character is a unique experience that not many online competitive games offer.
Fall of Cybertron sees the return of the much loved Escalation mode. Essentially Gears of Wars’ horde mode with robots, Escalation remains mostly unchanged from War for Cybertron. The only notable difference is that there are only five characters to choose from for each map. Apparently this makes the game more balanced, but it still feels unfair that you can’t play as your favorite Autobot or Decepticon.
With so many great things going for Fall of Cybertron its easy to ignore its few negatives. Even with the linear levels and small maps, the game’s action is so much fun that half the time you won’t even notice. Fall of Cybertron isn’t just a shout out to fans; it’s a hardcore game that should be on everybody’s radar.