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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review (X360)

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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review (X360)
Activision
There is little doubt that Transformers: War for Cybertron was the best Transformers game ever when it came out in 2010. We say "was" because its sequel, Fall of Cybertron, easily tops it. Developer High Moon Studios follow-up to WfC is mostly more of the same, but we mean that in the best possible way. Everything in Fall of Cybertron is more polished with better level designs, improved gameplay, and lots more nostalgic touches that will make Transformers fans squeal with glee. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is worth a look for any Transformers fan.
Game Details

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: High Moon Studios
  • ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
  • Genre: Third-Person-Shooter
  • Pros: Nice visuals; solid gameplay; amazing campaign finale; plenty of modes; challenging; weapon upgrades
  • Cons: Some so-so campaign levels; no co-op; voice work

Features and Modes

In the couple of years since War for Cybertron came out Hasbro and High Moon and anyone else of importance decided it wasn't going to be a G1 (original 1980's TF series) prequel after all. This was a major sticking point for us, and for a lot of dedicated TF fans, because WfC's story basically retconned established canon and it didn't mesh with G1 very well at all. Now that War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron are effectively their own story universe, however, it opens the door for High Moon to use whatever characters they want and tell the story however they want, and the results are a better story with even more crazy Transformers fan service without having to worry about G1 timelines.

The story in Fall of Cybertron takes place shortly after the events in War for Cybertron. Their attempt to escape the dying planet of Cybertron at the end of WfC failed and now the Autobots are scrambling to find a new ship as well as the Energon needed to power it. The Decepticons, of course, are doing everything they can to stop them. Because they're jerks that way. The story only takes 8-10 hours or so to beat, but offers some interesting hooks such as upgradeable weapons that require more than one playthrough to fully optimize everything as well as hidden blueprints and audio logs that will keep you playing.

One disappointing thing missing from Fall of Cybertron is a co-op mode, which was a big part of WfC's appeal. It has to be said, though, that by focusing on just one player the level designs are much better and more fun here. Would we have liked co-op? Of course. But the campaign is better and more focused without it, so we can't complain too much.

Fall of Cybertron does offer some extra modes outside of the campaign, of course. There is multiplayer with deathmatch and team-based modes where you build a custom character and earn upgrades and perks and new parts as you play. Escalation mode where you fight waves of A.I. enemies (like Halo's Firefight or Gears of War's Horde modes) also returns. Escalation is nearly impossible to play by yourself (it is difficult!), so up to four players can team up to try to make it through 15 waves of enemies on each map.

Gameplay

Activision
Over the 13 campaign levels you play as both Autobots and Decepticons but, unlike War for Cybertron that offered a choice of characters to play as, Fall of Cybertron's levels were made with specific abilities in mind, so you don't get to choose who you play as here. The playable characters include Optimus Prime (who can call in airstrikes), Cliffjumper (cloaking), Jazz (grappling hook), Grimlock (crazy powerful), Megatron, Soundwave (use his minions for objectives), and even the Decepticon gestalt Bruticus among others. As such, some levels are more fun than others with some particular standouts being anything with Optimus Prime (Full Disclosure: Optimus in any form across all of the series is my favorite character in anything ever ...), Decepticon Vortex's flying level (the best flight level we've seen in a while), Megatron's level where he utterly destroys everything in his path, and the final level that is just absolutely incredible and has you swapping between characters multiple times in an epic final battle. The Insecticons also make several appearances through the game and their role here is sort of like the Flood in Halo, which is pretty awesome. Some levels kind of drag (Grimlock isn't as fun to control as you'd expect) but overall the campaign is pretty solid.

The gameplay is mostly the same as it was in WfC. It is a third-person-shooter without a cover system where you just sort of slowly clunk along (you're a giant robot, after all) and fight nameless enemies on your way to an objective. You can also, of course, transform to a vehicle but other than a few long stretches where you're expect to drive as fast as you can, most of your time is spent in robot mode. The shooting is pretty basic TPS stuff, which means it is fun but nothing groundbreaking.

There are a couple of differences compared to WfC, though. First, the missions are much more interesting and you spend a lot less time waiting for another character to open a door or something and a lot more time shooting stuff. Second, ammo is a lot easier to come by here. Unlike WfC where you were basically out of ammunition the whole campaign, you usually have bullets to spare here. That isn't to say it is an easier game than WfC, though, as these robots are still surprisingly frail and it only takes a few shots before you're dead and reloading the last checkpoint.

An interesting aspect of the campaign is that you earn money as you play that you can use to upgrade your weapons, buy perks, or consumable items like temporary shields or stat boosts. The game does a good job of sprinkling new weapons and abilities throughout the campaign, so between those and the meaningful improvements that the upgrades have to the weapons, you always have new and interesting toys to play with. The campaign overall is generally solid and a lot of fun.

Graphics & Sound

The presentation is solid overall. The environments still have a kind of bland look, but you can't expect a planet made out of metal to have terribly varied terrain. The game overall does look better than WfC, though. Of course, the real visual stars here are the Transformers themselves, and each character is very nicely designed and modeled with lots of moving parts and neat looking transformations. The Dinobot and Insecticon designs here are particularly interesting compared to past iterations of the characters.

The sound is mostly decent as well. The music suits the story and action perfectly and the sound effects are quite good. Voice work is a bit hit or miss, though, with just about everyone other than Peter Cullen's Optimus Prime sounding a bit off. We don't simply mean they don't sound like their G1 counterparts, we mean the voices just don't match the character at all. Shockwave (my second favorite TF character ...) in particular really suffers with Steve Blum instead of Corey Burton doing the voice - it is just totally off and wrong.

Bottom Line

Activision
In the end, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a worthy follow-up to War for Cybertron and tops its predecessor in almost every way. The absence of co-op is noteworthy but it doesn't really take all that much away from FoC because the result is a better and more fun campaign to play through. With a strong campaign with built in replay value, solid multiplayer, and challenging Escalation mode, there is a lot of content here. We also have to say that, just like War for Cybertron, this game is filled with references to pretty much every Transformers series along with the movies and there are a lot of little winks and nudges everywhere that die hard Transformers fans will really appreciate. If you love Transformers, you'll find a lot to like in Fall of Cybertron as it is pretty easily the best TF game yet. We recommend it for a purchase.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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