Review: Transformers: War for Cybertron

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I grew up with the old-school 80s Transformers cartoon, but I am by no means a hardcore fan who demands fan-service. I’ve seen the new movies, shuddered at most bits, and decided to skip the game adaptations. From what I’ve heard, I didn’t miss much. Still, non-hardcore fan and all that, I did find myself getting excited hearing about High Moon Studio’s Transformers: War for Cybertron as it was going to follow the traditional cartoon universe rather than have BAYSPLOSIONS aplenty. Does a game based on a franchise that was good in the 80s (to a child) equate to good in 2010 (to a fully-grown man)? Read on and find out!

War for Cybertron is a third-person shooter set on Cybertron before the Decepticons and Autobots found their way to earth. The game’s plot actually explains why our protagonists and antagonists were forced to leave their home planet; if this is something that’s new or not, I don’t know, but I’m sure die-hard fans will let me know in the comments.

Players working through the campaign will find themselves dominating and destroying for six missions as the evil Decepticons, only to take control of the heroic Autobots to try to clean up…well, the mess you made. There is also a robust multiplayer mode with all the usual features — levelling up and unlocking new characters – you know the drill.

The hot: Upon revisiting Transformers, I realise it’s cheesy as all hell, but still enjoyable. Newcomers to the franchise may not get as much out of this game as I did. Optimus Prime has the same voice-actor from the cartoon, and I got a bit excited at that; I guess in the end, I was fan-serviced.

While usually unnecessary, the ability to transform from robot to car/slightly-more-tankish-car/plane, depending on which character you choose, is very fluid and quite fun to engage. While skimping on gamerscore during the campaign, each level does have its own sub-mission that will provide achievements, and proved to be quite fun. Give each task a go if you pick this game up.

The game has a variety of different difficulty levels; those looking to get through the story shouldn’t have a problem and you can bump the level up or down depending on how you’re doing.

The meh: You know that if I’m giving out points to a variety of difficulty levels, most of this game is meh. Transforming is fun, as I mentioned, but pointless – your robot form can run just about as fast as the car mode can motor. Flying around is okay, but the camera tends to make it quite difficult to pull off anything flash.

The game also puts different Transformers into one of three classes; I can’t remember what those classes are because (in the campaign at least), all the classes play identical to one another. It seems like a lot of concepts in this game started off as great ideas with not enough follow through; more polishing would have made this game great rather than capable.

The cold: Multiplayer, multiplayer, multiplayer. This is another in a series of games that decides pretty much half of its gamerscore allocation should go to multiplayer modes. Levelling up and getting to Prime mode, this game’s version of “prestige,” is repetitive and cumbersome. I gave up pretty quickly.

DLC packs for the game pretty much just offer other characters to use – this is where the fan-service REALLY comes into play – like old-school cartoon versions of Starscream and Megatron. Good for some, horrible value for most.

Basically, if you’re a big Transformers fan or you’re really into shooters, this game is for you. If you don’t fit in to one of the above categories, you’re probably better off finding another game…perhaps Halo: Reach now that it’s officially out. The game is alright – the story is engaging, the campaign is fun, and there’s multiplayer. While that’s fair enough, truthfully, there’s nothing truly exceptional about this game that makes it stand out like other games in the same genre do. As a purchase, I’d rate this as average, and as a rental, slightly higher.