Transformers is a name that can be greeted with pure admiration or complete disdain nowadays from those invested in the series. Fans can still see the franchise as that wonderful cartoon they watched as a kid or they attach Transformers to director, Michael Bay. I, for one, am a fan of the cartoon and despised the Bay films because of how misguided they were. Yes, I shouldn’t expect much from a movie that is based on a cartoon, but I just didn’t have the patience to deal with the inanity of the scripts.
The Transformers name is hard to separate from the films and High Moon Studios, the development team behind Fall of Cybertron, is setting out to make their "own thing" that is nowhere near the films. High Moon already made War for Cybertron back in 2010 and it was met with praise, even if the critics saw there were problems with the game. Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb said that it was the best Transformers game ever made, but he still thought there were issues (he gave it 3 out of 5).
High Moon is out to not make a sequel, but a spiritual successor. They wanted to fix all the issues from the last title and make the best Transformers game, ever. This is what High Moon Studios’ very own, Greg Agius told me when I went to the Fall of Cybertron press event. Greg stressed the point that this team was totally in love with the series. I felt that, from what Greg said, this game was being created by people who only want to pay tribute in the best way possible to Transformers by making an entertaining experience. I can say that after seeing over 45 minutes of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, High Moon looks to have something really special on their hands that does indeed do the name “Transfomers” justice.
The version of Transformer: Fall of Cybertron that I saw was in a Post Alpha build and it was running on an Xbox 360. The event was hosted by Greg Agius, who is the marketing and community manager at High Moon Studios. I saw the demo with three other writers and the event was overseen by Activision (publisher).
The eon long war for Cybertron is now over and the Autobots have lost. The only energon left is dark energon and it has filled the core of the planet, making the planet shut itself down. The Decepticons are now on the move to wipe out the few remaining Autobots. The Autobots, as always, represent freedom and integrity; Megatron wants to remove all of those notions and rule with an iron fist over what is left of Cybertron. The Autobots must defend themselves and try to finish work on their spaceship that will get them off the decaying, robotic planet. Greg described the story as a single narrative with a woven storyline when playing the game.
Fall of Cybertron is similar to War for Cybertron in that it is a third person shooter and you can seamlessly transform into either your vehicle or robot form. What separates this title from its predecessor is that instead of choosing between different characters for a mission, you are made to control only one character per mission. While this may sound more constraining to the player, I can assure you that it is not.
In the first game, the levels were big and not particularly stunning in any one way. Now, in Fall of Cybertron, every level caters to a particular character and their skills. One notable mission had Cliffjumper exploring some ancient ruins that explained the history of Cybertron. Cliffjumper’s ability is a cloaking mechanism and there were optional sneaking moments. Another mission featured Grimlock, a dinobot that transforms into a fire-breathing T-Rex and because of his size and power, his mission involved being in a battle royale of sorts. So, instead of running around a massive level with a bunch of bots, shooting things, and pushing buttons, you will be using one character whose talents interact with the level.
In War for Cybertron, you picked up weapons and you could only carry two at a time. In Fall of Cybertron, you will be able to upgrade your weapons at armory stations scattered through the level with money you find while playing. Now you don’t pick up guns that just do one particular shooting style, you can now upgrade a basic weapon to shoot electricity or make bullets ricochet.
This time around, the transformations of the bots are more creative and unique. Greg said that High Moon wanted to make the AI transform better in this title compared to the other one. The characters you play as will transform smoother and better as well. Jazz, an Autobot, will now do a break-dance move when it transforms; this, of course, adds to the personality of the Transformer and it is appealing, aesthetically. One transformation that is notable is the ability to create Bruticus, which is a giant transformer made up of 5 transformers. The part shown had Bruticus stomping through a level and decimating everything in his path.
When we got to the multiplayer segment, not much was discussed or shown. The big feature added, though, will allow you to fully customize your Transformer for online matches in various ways. Greg said that it was an MMO style to creating your character; right down to being able to mess with the color modification of your Transformer.
I enjoyed my time seeing this game a lot more than I thought I would. I didn't think that Fall of Cybertron would be as awesome looking as it was. I don't mean any disrespect to High Moon, I just didn't think that a Transformer game could ever look so cool.
I went back and played War for Cybertron and I have to agree with the critics. It certainly is a fun game and there are some stunning moments (the jail scene in particular), but there was too much blandness keeping it from shining. It looks that Fall of Cybertron will address those issues from the first game and in doing so, gain a larger audience.
It made me feel like a kid and I laughed so much at the sheer craziness of some of the levels. I am very interested to see the quieter moments of the game and really dive into the narrative that High Moon has created.
Release date is set for Fall 2012.
Autobots, roll out!