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Transformers: War for Cybertron is the best Transformers gaming experience. This game is a great example of how to make a game out of an established television or movie or comic. High Moon Studios, the people behind War for Cybertron, are fans of the franchise themselves, and they put every effort in to show just that.
Introduction or "Hey guys, let's make a game about Transformers that doesn't suck.":
I'm pretty sure that's exactly what someone at High Moon Studios said to get the ball rolling for War for Cybertron. Now, before the fans of the PS2 Transformers game by Atari bite my head off, I don't think that's a bad game at all, and in fact own and love it myself, but that game was based on the Armada series, and while a good series in its own right, the game wasn't enough to satisfy the hardcore Gen1 fan.
High Moon Studios are hardcore Gen1 fans, and they wanted a game they, and the rest of us, would love. But how could they do that after two pathetic attempts at a Transformers game based on the Michael Bay movies? Well, for one, they didn't use any of that stuff. They decided to give the fans what they wanted, and we wanted Gen1. But Gen1 is a cartoon series that was made to sell toys, and most fans would agree that, while we loved it as a kid, and still enjoy it, we can see the flaws Gen1 had. And honestly, playing a game where you'd have to fly out to an offshore oil rig and save some humans after getting beat by the Decepticons doesn't really seem like fun. That's not all that happens in Gen1, but it does happen and it wouldn't be fun to play.
So, since High Moon Studios couldn't do Gen1, they did the next best thing. The Cybertronian Era. The time-frame leading up both sides crash landing on Earth.
So High Moon Studios knows what they want to do, and that is make a good Transformers game. But HOW do they do it? Well, solid and entertaining game-play is one way. War for Cybertron is a third-person shooter like Gears of War, only, giant robots are involved. Giant, ass-kicking robots that can transform into vehicles. Why it took so long to get a good game based off of something like that is beyond me, but at least we finally have one, right?
So, since it's a third-person shooter, the game-play is pretty basic. Run here, shoot these enemies, make sure you don't get shot while shooting them, and move on. But because it's Transformers, there's an added mechanic to the game-play and that is the ability to transform to a vehicle at will. Simply push a button and watch as the giant robot becomes a vehicle, be it a car or a truck or a tank or even a jet. It's not all running and gunning though. You can, if you want to, run up to an enemy and smack them over the head with a melee weapon. OR, since you don't even have to run to get somewhere because you can transform into a vehicle, you can drive or fly up to an enemy, transform into robot mode and smack them over the head with a melee weapon. Quite satisfying, really. There are also a nice amount of puzzles to solve, such as destroying the power supply for a set of lasers blocking your path. And there are also a handful of semi-platforming elements. Simple jumping, switch activating, trap avoiding and the such, but it changes things up nicely. There's never constant fighting, or constant puzzle solving or anything like that, so there's a nice pace to the game. As well as that, the controls are responsive and movement doesn't fell clunky, even though you're a giant walking piece of metal. And the controls are simple too.
Right trigger is shoot, left trigger is zoom in or fine aim. A button is jump, X is reload, Y is switch weapons, B button is throw grenades. Left stick to move, right stick to look around. Click the left stick to transform, and click the right one to melee. The bumpers are your abilities which can be something simple like dashing in any direction, or emitting an area of effect shockwave that damages all enemies around you. Those are the default controls, but they work well enough.
So, the game-play has pretty much everything a good Transformers game should have. Plus, YOU'RE A GIANT ROBOT BEATING UP OTHER GIANT ROBOTS!!!! How can that NOT be fun? 10/10
The story in War for Cybertron covers the events leading up the beginning of the Gen1 cartoon we all know and love. It's split into two Campaigns, Decepticons and Autobots, with the Decepticons being first, chronologically. Their Campaign details how they take over Cybertron, and the Autobot Campaign shows how they fight back, leading up to the creation of the Ark. There are a few contradictions to the established canon of Gen1, but really, they aren't so major that it takes away from it. And both Campaigns are FULL of references to the old show and Transformers: The Movie, which was the original movie and was used to transition from Gen1 to Gen2. It takes lines straight from both and it is AMAZING. They even threw in the Universal Greeting. And the character dialogue during game-play is spot on.
With references aplenty and a nice, original story for both sides, this is what fans have been waiting for. 10/10
This game uses the Unreal 3 Engine, which isn't a bad thing, no matter what anyone tells you. While Cybertron is a large, mostly mechanical and industrial planet, High Moon Studios manages to make each level look different, while still looking like it belongs on Cybertron. The graphics are smooth, though there are some instances of texture bumping or animation clipping. And facial animations for some of the characters look weird. Like, creepy weird sometimes.
The voice acting is great, if only because of the dialogue between characters throughout the game, and what I mean is, the voices are from recognizable voice actors, and sometimes Johnny Young Bosch isn't the best choice. But Peter Cullen is. That guy is still voicing Optimus Prime.
The sound effects are amazing. Weapons sound powerful, the transformation sound is original, but still familiar. The soundtrack is great too, but is often overshadowed by the current fight or conversation. Though, the end credits song alone makes up for that part. They got Stan Bush. You know, the guy who sings The Touch? The song that plays when Optimus heads towards his epic fight with Megatron. "You've got the touch, you've got the power!!!" Yeah, that guy.
While the graphics are pretty, and the little things like moving parts on each Transformer are a nice touch, and the sound effects and soundtrack fit well, the not entirely noticeable soundtrack and few graphical hiccups can be annoying. 9/10
The game is broken up into two Campaigns, both of which will take an average of 4-6 hours to beat, bringing the total play-time to 10-12 hours, which is standard for a shooter. What makes you want to play the game again though, is the three difficulty levels, and 3 Player Drop-In/Drop-Out Co-op. As well as a robust Multiplayer mode, and it's own version of Horde Mode from Gears of War or Firefight from Halo 3: ODST, called Escalation, which can played solo or online with friends. For the multiplayer side, you have the standard offerings of a multiplayer shooter. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are there, as well as a unique Transformers twist on modes like Territories or Assault from the Halo series.
Escalation, while being a simple "Survive wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies" mode, has a "Shop" feature to it. Kill an enemy and earn points based on the type, and you can spend those points throughout the map on things like new weapons, ammo, health, armor or even new areas of the map.
Multiplayer has a class based system. The 4 classes to choose from are Soldier, Scout, Scientist and Leader. Each class has it's own set of weapons, 4 to choose from, and abilities, both active (activated with the bumpers) and passive, and kill-streaks. You gain more abilities and kill-streaks as you level up any given class. As well as all that, each class has it's own vehicle mode. Scouts are cars, Scientists are jets, Soldiers are tanks and Leaders are trucks. You can also pick your character design based off of the playable characters from the Campaigns, and you have the option of changing a primary and secondary color on them. So I made Sideswipe, an Autobot Scout design, orange instead of red.
Some of you may say "Well they copied *insert series here* so how can be this be any better?" Well for one, GIANT ROBOTS. And two, you don't fix what ain't broken. This game takes certain elements from other series, and makes them all work very well together. And GIANT ROBOTS. Can't stress that enough folks, giant robots are just that important.
With two Campaigns, Co-op and a variety of multiplayer options, you'll be playing this game for a while, and longer if you're a fan. 10/10
Like I said at the beginning of this review, this game is the definitive Transformers gaming experience. It's got references to the old show and original movie, beautiful graphics and sounds, an interesting take on the origins of the franchise, amazing game-play, great replay value and it's GIANT ROBOTS THAT CAN TRANSFORM INTO VEHICLES BEATING UP OTHER GIANT ROBOTS!!! What's not to love right there? Seriously, if you are any kind of Transformers fan, GET THIS GAME. If you know anyone who is any kind of Transformers fan, TELL THEM TO GET THIS GAME OR GET IT FOR THEM YOURSELF. If you want to become a Transformers fan, War for Cybertron is a great place to start. And if you just want a solid shooter that isn't a Call of Duty or a Halo or a Gears of War, this isn't a bad choice at all, because YOU'RE A GIANT ROBOT!!!!!!