Borrowing the best gameplay elements from most well received games of the last few years, Transformers: War for Cybertron stands as the best Transformers title to date and should hold over your itching trigger finger while the world waits for Halo Reach.
The developers at High Moon Studios have given us a game that allows the player to celebrate the wonders of being a Transformer. Difficult fire fights, having the ability to quickly change into a vehicle at any time, having a giant roster of Transformer characters, listening to the powerful voice of Optimus Prime – it is all here in this game.
War for Cybertron might be easiest compared to Gears of War as they share the same, over-the-shoulder 3rd person shooting perspective. However, unlike Gears, WFC gives the player the ability to jump/platform, and some characters can even change into planes to fly anywhere around each stage. But because vehicle mode is just an analog click away, the game does not have a cover mechanic. This is not a negative aspect, however, because combat is at the forefront of gameplay.
WFC also stands as an original game; it is not directly based on a movie, comic, cartoon, or toy line. Because of this, the developers had enough time and resources to make something unique and entertaining. Taking place on the Transformers’ home world, Megatron tries to win the war against the Primes by using an ancient form of energy called Dark Energon. Throughout the war you’re filled in with some origin and alliance information for some of the popular Transformer characters. As a nice touch, the player has the ability to play through both the Decepticon and Autobot campaigns in order to experience both sides of the story.
The campaign mode features three player online co-op (no split screen). If you only have one friend, then a computer controlled AI bot will control the remaining Transformer. Unfortunately, friendly AI is as dumb as can be. Instead of shooting enemies, this extra character will actually get in your way more than anything. And if you take too much damage, the friendly AI will never heal or revive you. Luckily, there is a drop-in drop-out matchmaking service that works pretty well. Playing through the campaign on the most difficult setting also provides quite a challenge, but not because of genuine difficulty, rather, the producers use some cheap tactics to frustrate the player. One example in particular has the Decepticons fighting against a pack of shielded Autobots. Even after pummeling an Autobot with an entire clip, their shield will regenerate and continue the fight as if they took no damage. The only way to defeat these enemies is to have all three players concentrate their fight power on one enemy at a time, but if an AI bot is controlling your third player, you are going to have a frustrating time. Even peeking your head out from wall for a second will have enemies missile locking you from half a stage away it seems.
Once the campaign is finished, there are many other gameplay modes to keep you entertained. Taking another note from Gears of War and Halo ODST, WFC has its own “Horde” mode called Escalation. Here, a group of buddies will fight together in an arena and take on waves of enemies that become incrementally tougher. WFC puts a unique twist on this popular mode by rewarding the player with points which can be used to purchase more health, weapons, or ammo. This point system introduces a new sense of balance to the gameplay as opposed to scrambling for random weapon drops. But if co-op becomes boring, then feel free to jump into online versus mode in typical matchmaking like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag style games. A recent auto update helped to balance out special abilities and weaponry and offers a high entertainment value; DLC is also available. Unfortunately, like many other games that use an unbalanced ranking system, newbies will have a difficult time facing off against players of a higher level as they do not have access to the more powerful weapons and abilities, let alone the knowledge, layout, and weapon spawns of each map.
The game’s visuals are also quite repetitive. How many times can you run and gun through the same futuristic dimly lit metal pipe environments before you start to go blind? The game starts to open up a little more when you reach the Autobot campaign, but the Decepticon story mode is filled with repetitive environments and invisible walls, but at least the audio banter between the robots during each mission gives the game much needed personality. And maybe it is just me but I am really getting sick of hearing Steve Blum’s voice. From Wolverine, to MGS Peace Walker, to Transformers, this guy’s voice is in everything from cartoons, games, to anime and is losing his potency quickly.
Transformers has quite a history behind it and WFC will definitely make fans happy by giving them a Transformers game that they have always wanted. Even if you weren’t born in the earlier 80’s and don’t really have any prior knowledge of this classic toy line, WFC is an entertaining third person shooter and provides plenty of value for the $60 price tag despite having a few flaws.
Better Than: any other Transformer game
Also Try: Gears of War 2
Wait For It: Halo Reach
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