Saturday, 1 September 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (PS3 Video Game Review)

You know, I was initially going to start this game with some obvious criticisms. Some clear points focusing upon how minor changes have greatly improved it and comparing it with other major releases of this time. Instead I’ll just tell you what you need to know here and now – High Moon Studios knocked it out of the ballpark. They took a sequel to a fairly good game and turned it into not only something which can stand along side Arkham City in terms of its quality but, barring Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is quite possibly the best game I’ve played of this console generation. If this year was to end tomorrow, I would have no reservations declaring this my top game of 2012.

Let’s get the criticisms out of the way first, the few weak-points in what is otherwise a truly great game:
-         The first is that there’s a very visible lack of a cover system. While it might have been problematic to have a character clinging to walls when not needed and, perhaps, program each vehicle mode not to do this it’s distinctly missing. Sections of the game such as when Cliffjumper is sneaking about an enemy facility feel like they were designed with one in mind. It’s not specifically a problem, it’s even good to see a third person shooter without one after all the Gears of War wannabes, but it feels like one should be there.
-         Secondly is that there’s a few voice actors who don’t return to their roles. The lack of Steve Blum narrating the intro to each chapter in his best Victor Caroli impression is something which is definitely a step down, though he is still doing other parts. Similarly Johnny Young Bosch doesn’t reprise his role as Bumblebee who, despite having a very small role and losing his voice to help bridge things into Prime, is sorely missed.
-         Finally, the variety of enemies isn’t that great. There seems to be a few less than last time and many of the more powerful enemies only turn up two or three times at most. Unlike the destroyers in War for Cybertron, the big ones do not transform and lack the fun factor of blowing off their armour.

That’s it, there’s nothing else. Every single last other thing is either good, outstanding, or at the absolute least passable.

The story this time takes place an undisclosed period of time after War for Cybertron. Having been fighting the Decepticons since the mass evacuation from the planet and Cybertron itself entering a form of coma to recover from Megatron’s mad ambitions, the Autobots are preparing to leave the dying world once and for all. In his usual carefully calculated and reserved manner, Megatron declares that no one can leave the world with his permission and proceeds to throw everything into one final campaign to wipe out the Autobots.

Naturally after the massive wars which devastated the cities and surface of the world, you’re not revisiting many settings from the first game. Iacon is gone, you don’t delve deep into Cybertron’s core like last time and there’s no racing across skyways. Instead what you see are a lot of ruins and rubble, and it’s a credit to the designers that despite this they still managed to give each area a distinct look. Autobot City is distinct because of its lighting and the shades of metal, the ruins you’re sent to directly afterwards stand out because of the rusted tints and Kaeon is, well, still robot Mordor. The same can be said of the characters, some of who have changed appearances somewhat since they were last seen but manage to retain the overall aesthetics of their own factions. In both areas however, Fall goes several steps further than War in its efforts to differentiate the feel of its characters and locations through its gameplay.

War for Cybertron had its main characters moving about in trios and having players take advantage more of their guns than any special abilities; Fall does the exact opposite. Mission requirements and environmental aspects allow for a lot more variety between each mission, with you constantly switching up between small or unique gameplay elements.
For example, rather than being a common element a-la Halo 3 turrets only appear in highly explosive parts of the game, usually with you killing something big or lots of small minions. Of further note is that each level seems to be designed to use these abilities, whenever a character turns up armed with a grapple he usually spends time ripping down walls/doors/obstructions and swinging around the place in a manner which would make Spiderman proud. Definitely a major improvement from the dread people tended to feel when they accidently activated Megatron’s hover jets and slowly lumbered about above cover being shot repeatedly.

Probably the best comparison to make with this is with good DLC extensions like Mass Effect 2’s Overlord. The sort which has you feeling like you’re never going to get bored because at every moment there’s a new gimmick introduced or minor section which you’ve not come across before. This tends to usually work around the story showing you aspects you’d likely have not seen before, like the more organised strikes by the Combaticons (effectively the Decepticon spec ops.). It’s saying something when the start of the game has you acting as a target painter for a city sized killing machine and the buildup to the finale has you wrecking things as a robot t-rex. Even when you’re not fighting there are moments which make you cheer included into NPC encounters and cutscenes, such as how Megatron is dealt with the first time. No really, you won’t believe just how satisfying it is .

There’s really not much I can say because there’s so little to actually criticise that most of my comments will just come off as fanboying praise. The closest I can think of to compare this game with is the Avengers film from earlier this year – you know the game’s not perfect, but you can’t help but just enjoy every single well crafted second of it. Plus it does so little wrong you’re left grinning from beginning to end. The story mode is only eight hours long but with its sheer variety ends up giving it massive replay value as you’ll end up revisiting specific chapters time and time again – and that’s without getting into things like multiplayer.

Definitely get this one if you’re a fan of innovative third person shooters. 


Fall of CybertronTransformers and all related characters and media are owned by Hasbro, Activision and High Moon Studios.

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