Transformers: War for Cybertron
Transformers, you need to have lived under a rock for the last 20 years to know have heard about them. With two Michael Bay movies (90% explosions, 10% Megan Foxx booty shots and 0% story) just about any gamers knows about them. Luckily for us this game has NOTHING but really NOTHING to do with the movies! Forget the terrible Transformers games we got with the movies and be glad that High Moon Studios pays tribute to the Transformers franchise.
High Moon Studios, the developers, also were responsible for Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy, a game that was quite underestimated if you ask me. This one is set on Cybertron, the home planet of the Transformers. The inhabitants are split up between the Autobots and the Decepticons and while both want to end the war that’s been going for ages between them, they both have a different idea about how to do that. Under the lead of Optimus Prime, the Autobots want to build a peaceful civilization, while the Decepticons, lead by Megatron, want to set up a dictatorial regime. Both sides can be played in one big storyline that will decide over the future of Cybertron.
What immediately gets noticed when starting up is not some beautiful movie, but an installation that takes about 25 minuts. As if that isn’t bad enough, the game each time when getting launched checks whether everything is still alright which makes you lose about a minute and a half of time before you can get going. Luckily this is one of the few truly negative points I can sum up. As soon as you load the first level you’ll notice that you’ll never be truly playing alone. You’re always in a team of three to complete missions. Before you start you can select which Autobot or Decepticon you want to play with and each character is based on existing Transformers, something fans of the franchise will certainly be able to appreciate.
Each character has a certain class (like leader, scout, scientist or soldier) and specific abilities. Megatron for instance can steal life from nearby hostiles, while Optimus can have nearby friends do additional damage. Both are a leader class but still remain unique. Combine them with the 20+ characters in the game and you end up with quite some variation.
Regarding weapons this Transformers game certainly doesn’t do worse than other third person shooters. There’s machine guns, mobile cannons, shotguns, sniper rifles and so on… all with a bit of cybertronian sauce over them. If you run out of ammo you can still split your enemies in half with a fysical attack like hitting them with an axe or sword.
If there’s one thing that makes these robots special it’s their ability to change shape, or simply said: transform (duh!). This is perfectly integrated in the game and at any time you can change from robot to vehicle or the other way around with a simple click on the left joystick. When you take on the form of a vehicle you’ll also be able to get somewhere faster with an alternative function. This is necessary because without the speed boost it looks like you’re moving forward like a slug.
The graphics use the Unreal 3.0 engine which makes things look better than the average PS3 game. The Transformers look slick thanks to the many detail on their bodies, the switching between vehicle and body is fluid and you can nicely see each part of your character change. The Cybertron environment is a bit less at times though. You’ll often encounter parts that are quite dark, even if you turn up the game’s brightness to maximum. Another disadvantage is that at times the framerate suffers from the countless explosions on your screen. This happens mostly when you’re in an open world as plenty of stuff is constantly going on in the background. If there’s one thing the devs wanted to do it’s make you feel like you’re fighting in a large-scale war and they succeed in that, but at times at the expense of framerate.
Next to all the graphical violence also plenty of attention went into the sound. While playing you get a good pumping soundtrack that perfectly fits the action. Fun is that the some of the voices are done by the same cast who also did the movies. Hell, a positive link with the Transformer movies! Who would have guessed? The other characters have unknown voices but they fit their image.
There are plenty of environment sounds including explosions, discussions of allies at a rally point or hostiles who got captured. The sound of the weapons and physical attacks give an accurate feeling of strength so you hear you’re hurting a hostile when you’re firing a heavy gun.
In multiplayer you can create your own character and then build it out further with the experience you’ve gained. You can’t choose an existing character though. The modes are similar to those from other games but do have a Transformer twist due to amongst other things the fact that you can transform yourself. This results in a constant feeling of speed and action. Escalation is one of the most popular modes and many players will know it as Horde from Gears of War 2 or FireFight from Halo: ODST.
A small difference with the other games is that here you can unlock additional lives, weapons or even parts of a map by paying points which you get from killing enemies. If there’s one important thing here it’s teamwork. Other modes present are typical CTF and Deathmatch modes as well as one where one team needs to defend an area while the other needs to conquer it.
It took a long time but finally we have a game that doesn’t make the Transformers universe look ridiculous. With a beautiful singleplayer and addictive multiplayer this game will keep console owners busy for quite some time!