Preview: Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron
The sequel to High Moon Studios’ 2010 Transformers: War for Cybertron is almost here, and I’m a little psyched for it considering I quite enjoyed their first effort, and felt it was a pretty good game. They may have stumbled quite drastically with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a game adaption of the movie which turned out to be quite bad, but now they’re going back hopefully to redeem themselves with a follow up to their first success. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for us this August.
Name: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Multiplayer: Competitive online (10 players), Co-op online
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Developers: High Moon Studios, Mercenary Technology (PC)
Release Date: 24 August 2012
Price: R250 (PC), R500 (PS3, 360)
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, as you may have guessed, is the sequel to 2010′s War for Cybertron, and it takes place directly after the events of its predecessor. The game will put players right in the middle of the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, as the two sides battle for control over their home world, Cybertron, which is approaching ruin as its core is filled with Dark Energon, forcing it to shut down and slip into a death-like stasis. Fall of Cybertron will serve to illustrate the final battle between the two factions, which eventually results in the complete destruction of Cybertron, forcing the Autobots to escape and seek refuge in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. High Moon Studios, the developers, are aiming for a darker tone compared to War for Cybertron, and are looking to give fans a more mature take on the Transformers story. Since fans already know the inevitable outcome, Fall of Cybertron is a game that is much more about the journey than the destination, and the premise is certainly exciting and grand in scale. Count me in for that, as I quite enjoyed War for Cybertron.
For all the Transformers fans out there, there will be a ton of characters appearing in the game, which includes Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Cliffjumper, Ironhide, Sideswipe, Ratchet, Perceptor, Warpath, Wheeljack, Jetfire, Air Raid, Metroplex, the Dinobots (Grimlock, Sludge, Slug, Snarl and Swoop), and Megatron, Shockwave, Starscream, Soundwave, the Combaticons (Onslaught, Blast Off, Brawl, Swindle and Vortex) and their combined form of Bruticus, and an Insecticon swarm which includes Hardshell, Sharpshot and Kickback. That’s quite a mouthful. However, unlike War for Cybertron, which had two separate campaigns, one for the Autobots and one of the Deceptions, Fall of Cybetron will only have one single campaign mode in which you switch between the two factions. You’ll play as specific characters in each chapter of the story, but the difference this time is that each character will feel and play very different to the next. However, I’ll talk more about this later.
High Moon also focused on giving the characters updated appearances as well as superior transformations, to enable the player to have more power. For example, the main man Optimus Prime’s design was altered to make him fit a more “warrior” style, and this was achieved by adding more bulk onto his body mass. But it’s not just appearance that has been changed, but also weapon design. The goal was again to make players feel a lot more powerful with more creative ways of dealing out the pain, and a large part of this will be evident in the game’s weapon upgrades. High Moon’s Matt Tieger commented on this aspect, saying “We really made a conscious choice to make every upgrade a significant improvement, so one upgrade might increase your firing speed by 75 percent. We could have made the system so that there were a lot of upgrades that each improved your guns a little bit, but we wanted to make each upgrade feel like this giant thing. That way when players buy it they’re really going to feel the difference.” That works for me, I like being a giant robotic bad-ass.
If you’ve played War for Cybertron, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the third person shooter gameplay here, except High Moon has gone the extra mile to improve upon everything from the original game. The game is still centered around shooting and transforming on the fly, opening up vehicle and air combat, as well as many other styles depending on your character. There have been a couple of tweaks though, such as that characters now have a single ability to use on the go rather than two, and this was done to streamline the experience. Each character can still carry two weapons at a time though, and all of them will be fully upgradable at the various Teletraan stores found in levels. You’ll be able to make your weapons significantly more powerful by improving things like damage, range, accuracy and fire rate, and the point is to allow players to fancy certain play styles and loadouts.
The scale of the game’s battlefield is quite massive, and with there now being one campaign rather than two separate ones, High Moon has put a lot of effort into making each character feel unique and different without compromising fun and player power. For example, Optimus Prime, being the leader of the Autobots, will be able to fully control Metroplex, the city-size Transformer, at any time during combat, but this ability will naturally have a cooldown timer. The interesting thing is that players won’t know what Metroplex will do exactly when calling for his help. For example, he may launch an air strike, or arrive himself to destroy what’s in your way. It’s pretty cool to see him in action. Each character in the game has access to unique and special abilities like this. For instance, Starscream is able to fly with his transformation as well as turn invisible, and offers a very different experience to someone like Grimlock who is able to turn into a dinosaur and, much the Decepticon’s Bruticus is large and destructive, but slow. Then there is Jazz, for another example, who can use a grappling hook to get to vantage points.
While the epic campaign is certainly something to get excited about, for me the main attraction is the game’s multiplayer component, especially since it was what I enjoyed most about War for Cybertron. In Fall of Cybertron it has the same style, except many improvements and tweaks have been made to ensure that the experience is better than ever. However, before I get to all the good parts that I’m excited for, unfortunately I have to say that the one thing that upsets me is that Fall of Cybertron does not include its predecessors online co-op campaign play feature, and while it’s not the end of the world, it’s a bit sad. But it definitely could be forgivable provided the campaign is good. If I remember correctly War for Cybertron’s campaign was made a lot better with online co-op, but it could have used offline co-op as well because it did have its problems of repetitiveness and being nothing really special. Let’s just hope that Fall of Cybertron doesn’t suffer the same fate with its single player campaign.
The original four classes from War for Cybertron’s multiplayer mode return in this sequel, although most of them have new names. There are Titans (Soldiers), Infiltrators (Scout), Destroyers (Leader), and Scientists, which has kept its old name. The game will feature standard Deathmatch and five versus five Team Deathmatch modes, as well as Conquest, which is about capturing nodes, defending them and earning the most points. War for Cybertron’s famous Escalation co-op hoard mode is making a return, except it has gone through some changes. On the lesser side of things, players will now be able to buy traps, and there will be a mystery box in each new room that will give you access to a random weapon or ability. However, a big change to the mode is that it’s now class based, and each player will have a specific role to play based on their assigned ability, of which there are four, including a riot shield, deployable turret, a beacon that increases team damage and a healing ray that can’t heal its user. Escalation will feature four maps at launch, namely Ancients, Oblivion, DownFall and Ignition.
For the multiplayer, what has me probably most excited are the upgrades to the customization options. I always felt that War for Cybertron was rather limited, but just about satisfying, in this aspect. Now, Fall of Cybertron looks as though its hitting all the right notes. The customization this time around has a lot more depth, with players now able to build their own Transformers from scratch. Each character will have six customizable regions, such as the head, torso, legs, wheels, upper arms and lower arms. Each part will also have minor perks attached to them, giving players upgrades such as faster weapon cooldowns or faster transformation speeds. However, these perks won’t majorly impact gameplay, so customizing parts will mostly be for cosmetic purposes. It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether new parts will be made available through downloadable content, but it has been stated that Dinobots and Insecticons will be added later as DLC, although there’s no word on release date. Also on the subject of DLC, pre-ordering the game from select retailers will give players access to a “G1 Retro Pack”, that unlocks a Transformers Generation 1 themed Optimus Prime skin and a Generation inspired Megatron rifle and Shockwave Blast Cannon. We’re not quite sure on availability of the pre-order bonuses here.
In the end, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is making it quite clear that High Moon wants to go out with a shout rather than a whimper. It’s definitely gearing up to be awesome, and I honestly hope it lives up to its expectations and outdoes its predecessor, so that gamers can add another licensed title to the greats already up there since Batman: Arkham Asylum changed everything. These games need to keep raising the bar, demanding a higher standard from developers who wish to use the licenses we love so much. Fall of Cybertron is looking like a winner, and all we can do now is wait and hope it is.