Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
The word ‘Transformers’ might now be as closely associated with Megan Fox’s ass and/or Shia LaBeouf gurning desperately into the camera as it is to a series of toys, but for geeks/nerds of a certain age that 12 letter, three syllable word rouses far deeper emotions than the shallow titillation or comedic-turns of the movies ever could. There’s that theme tune of course, Saturday mornings spent watching the poorly animated but no less enthralling cartoon and playground conversations about who was best – the Decepticons or the Autobots.
Though the recent big-budget movie reimaginings had a go at stomping on those childhood memories, not even Michael Bay’s lumpen-directorial abilities could diminish the inherent coolness of the Transformers themselves, and with the latest videogame based on the franchise, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron , Activision and High Moon Studios take the much loved characters back to their roots – back to the planet Cybertron and to a time where the robots in disguise were the main attraction, not the Hollywood starlet of the day.
The fruit of High Moon Studio’s labours is without question a heartfelt love-letter to the Transformers of old, but notions such as ‘originality’ or ‘innovation’ are conspicuously absent; Fall of Cybertron merely takes a handful of popular game mechanics and drops the Transformers into the mix. This is a move that will no doubt set alarm-bells ringing as gamers recall the countless titles that blew their budget on a popular licence leaving little left to develop a game that actually does it justice. Such concern is further warranted considering that High Moon Studios’ previous Transformers title, Dark of the Moon, fell well short of expectations.
Thankfully, though it may be mechanically unoriginal, Fall of Cybertron is certainly solid. The relish with which it embraces Transformer characters and lore combined with the gusto and sheer volume of its violence also make the lack of originality relatively easy to overlook in this case.
Fall of Cybertron’s narrative picks up from where Transformers: War for Cybertron left off which may alienate gamers who’ve not played the previous game to some extent. With that being said, familiarity with the characters and/or the original cartoon series/movie is probably more than enough background to be drawn into the conflict and let’s face it; a plot revolving around the dying of a cybernetic planet and the scuffling of two sets of diametrically-opposed robots is hardly Shakespeare. And it’s not like gamers usually need an excuse to blow stuff up…
Though engaging enough, the real strength of the plot is that it manages to serve up an impressively broad selection of Autobots and Decepticons – come the game’s conclusion you’ll have spent time with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Starscream, Megatron and many more in between. This constant switching between characters could have been jarring, but instead leads to compulsion; just as you’re about to call it a night, a new character is thrown into the mix and every time the temptation to play just one more level is strong.
Despite the impressive number and variety of characters featured, Fall of Cybertron’s gameplay is far more monosyllabic. From the moment you press start to the rolling of the credits, your primary objective is to a) blast stuff into little bits and b) not get blasted into little bits yourself. In terms of this type of gameplay, High Moon Studios has stiff and copious competition but even were the Transformer licence to be taken out of the equation, here is a perfectly serviceable and pleasingly vivacious shooter. Ironically, at times the action is so intense, so full-on, that one can’t help but think of Michael Bay’s self-proclaimed directorial style, that he lovingly defined as “fu**ing up the frame”. Fall of Cybertron fills the screen with copious, powerful and uniformly heavily-armed robots, and it does a good job of letting you know it through its visuals and audio. Explosions are punchy, gun-shots impactful and the rain of metallic shards that follow a kill proves to be strangely gory even with the obvious lack of blood.
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