Transformers: War for Cybertron is pretty easily the best Transformers game yet. And it isn't just good "for a Transformers game", it is a solid game period. This third-person-shooter has you flying and driving and transforming and fighting all over the Transformers' homeworld of Cybertron, and every aspect from the presentation to modes to the core gameplay is remarkably well done. War for Cybertron is a dream come true for Transformers fans. Find out all of the details here in our full review.
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: High Moon Studios
- ESRB Rating: "T" for Teen
- Genre: Third-Person-Shooter
- Pros: Nice presentation; fun gameplay; tons of nods to all TF series; lengthy SP with lots of collectibles; Escalation mode
- Cons: Gets kind of repetitive by the end; story isn't that good;
The story in War for Cybertron is intended to be the official prequel to the original 1980's Transformers cartoon series that we now know as G1. It features all of the key characters - Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ironhide, Jetfire, etc. that fans know and love from G1. Only at this point, Optimus isn't a leader (or a Prime yet), and Starscream isn't a Decepticon yet, among many other plot threads. The game tells the story of Megatron's rise to power and what ultimately led the Autobots to build the Ark and leave the planet (and eventually end up on Earth).
The story is certainly interesting, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to accept it as the official history leading into G1. A lot of the story elements that are important in the game are completely original and never mentioned in G1. Also, G1 has a whole episode dedicated to how Optimus Prime rose to power and obtained the Matrix of Leadership (betcha didn't know he actually started out as an Autobot named Orion Pax ...). So it is sort of strange to see an "official" prequel for G1 completely ignore story elements that were actually in the real G1 cartoon. I also have to say, I prefer the War Within comics as a prequel to G1, but then again, that was a prequel to the Dreamwave comics G1 universe and not the cartoon universe so they aren't exactly the same thing.
Not Just G1
Something else that is interesting is that this isn't just a love letter to G1. There are a lot of elements borrowed from other Transformers series as well. Character designs borrow from G1, War Within, Transformers Animated, and even the live action movies. Some story elements (Omega Supreme's role in particular) also have more in common with other series than they do with G1. Also, the unlockable character Slipstream (a female seeker) is lifted directly from Transformers Animated. As a fan of all things Transformers and not just a child of the 80's blinded by a rose-tined, nostalgic view of G1, it was nice to see the whole franchise getting some love.
Issues with the story aside, this is still a Transformers game with all of the awesome characters we know and love, so it is pretty hard not to have fun with it. The banter between Megatron and Starscream, the Seekers arguing with each other, everything Soundwave does, Warpath acting crazy, Optimus stepping up and becoming a leader - the fanboy inside me was pretty happy.
Gameplay wise, War for Cybertron is a solid third-person-shooter. It uses an over the shoulder camera view, similar to Gears of War, but unlike Gears doesn't use a cover system. In each of the ten levels - 5 for the Decepticons and 5 for the Autobots - you have your choice of one of three characters and which characters you can use changes depending on the level. Different character classes also offer unique special abilities, but these abilities aren't that important in the campaign. Most of the time you are on the ground, so your character choices are mainstays like Megatron or Soundwave for the Decepticons or Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, or Ironhide for the Autobots. There are also a couple of levels that require you to fly, and in those cases you get to choose a character from the Decepticon Seekers or Autobot Aerialbots.
No matter what character you choose, the game plays mostly the same way. You are directed from point A to point B, usually have to activate something when you get there, and fight a lot of generic enemies along the way. An interesting element is that ammunition is fairly hard to come by, so taking good shots and making sure you have the right weapon is important. You can also melee enemies, and in many cases that is a preferable tactic over wasting ammo. By the end of the 10-12 hour campaign, you see a lot of similar scenery and blast a lot of identical enemies. But it is always pretty fun, particularly if you are a Transformers fan.