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2010

Transformers: War for Cybertron - Video Game

REVIEW: Transformers: War for Cybertron PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by: TriPredRavage

So here we are nearly a year after that which was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Transformers has once again stepped up to the platein an attempt to deliver a new video game experience that doesn’t leave us feeling half full. Beware, SPOILERS ahead.

War for Cybertron takes an interesting approach to the TF video game industry. Look back to the other games and their release dates, and they all appear rather logical, being games released alongside or just post the conclusion of a specific series. WfC, on the other hand, sets out to tell the untold tale of the beginning of the Transformers War. (Ignoring the number of comics that have told varying versions of the origin of the war, that is.)

The campaign mode of the game is ten chapters long, starting with chapters I and VI unlocked (I being the first of the Decepticon story, VI being the first of the Autobot story). As you play through them, the chapters unlock in order until finally all ten are completed.

I began the game with chapter I, which seemed like a logical place to begin, and it proved to be so.

Megatron and his team begin their quest to acquire a rare breed of Energon known as “Dark Energon” from a facility under the protection of Starscream and Jetfire. At the end of this level, Megatron proves himself to be strong, causing Starscream to swear his allegiance to the Decepticon cause, and it all goes downhill from there for the team. Along the way, Megatron overwhelms and captures the current Prime, Zeta Prime, throwing the Autobot forces into disarray. The Decepticon story ends in Chapter V with the Decepticons infecting Cybertron’s core with the Dark Energon, corrupting it to their will.

The Autobot story begins with Bumblebee in search of Optimus in order to inform him of Zeta Prime’s defeat, and Optimus takes temporary lead of the Autobots until the council can appoint the new Prime. Stuff happens, Optimus is named the new Prime and given the instruction to evacuate Cybertron as he goes to free the core from the influence of the Dark Energon.

Each chapter averages out to be about an hour to an hour-and-a-half long with a dozen checkpoints for each level. Each level also allows you to select one of three characters before hand to play as, while the other two act as backup throughout the level. The only problem with this is that you have no idea what character is best suited for the level and events to follow, so you sort of pick blindly by choosing whomever you like best.

Characters are iconic and true to themselves as we would expect them to be, even in jeopardy of making the story a little nonsensical. For example, Starscream begins the game opposing Megatron, but swears loyalty when he sees Megatron’s awesome might. Then from Chapter II on, Starscream spends the entirety of the game trying to take over the Decepticons. Yeah, we know that Starscream is a backstabber, but in this case, it was out of nowhere that he just decides he wants to lead the Decepticons.

As I said, though, everybody is very true to what we would expect from them. Bumblebee is energetic and eager, Optimus is a strong leader, Megatron is merciless, etc… My personal favorite was Warpath who couldn’t help himself but yell “KABLAM!!” every chance he had. Laughs all around.

Playstyle-wise, I didn’t feel that there was all that much different from character to character, with the exception of flyers, whose vehicle modes feature a much broader range of motion. Some seemed better at melee attacks than others, but it all seemed rather inconsequential as to who I picked until I started relying on their special abilities which proved to make the difference between the characters. I recommend paying attention to those skills when selecting your character, as it will make all the difference in later levels.

The controls were for the most part reminiscent of past games, but an obvious improvement from RotF’s game was isolating the Transform control to pressing in an analog stick. Otherwise, it was all very straight forward.

The game’s difficulty curve, I felt was pretty steep. I’m an experienced gamer, but by no means consider myself hardcore. That said, I started on Medium difficulty, and by the end of the first level I set the game down to easy. So, there does seem to be a learning curve, and you can increase the difficulty as you become more accustomed to the game.

However, there seems to be a trend as of late in games that they don’t make moments necessarily challenging as much as they just make them incredibly hard. War for Cybertron falls victim to this a bit as well. There were a few instances where I found myself dying repeatedly simply because the game spawned a hoard of enemies and it was too difficult to figure out the best way to run away. These moments were few and far between, but are still worth noting.War for Cybertron definitely prides itself on being unique and original, but it seems to go to a point that was rather surprising. For example, the choice to use Zeta Prime (who, for as far as I can tell is an original character to the game) rather than Sentinel Prime (a character established as Optimus’ predecessor) seemed a bit odd and unnecessary. As a result, there are NO iconic Autobot characters within the Decepticon story until chapter IV where Omega Supreme appears. However, from that point on, the Autobot story is littered with iconic Decepticons and is very fulfilling in that manner. The strange point of the Autobot campaign comes in its beginning. The Autobot story is actually very dependent upon that which happens in the Decepticon story, literally being the middle of the game’s overall plot. Thus, if you start as the Autobots, you may find yourself scratching your head in the beginning wondering how and why some things are happening.

The game supports a strong roster of characters and a very talented voice cast. A personal favorite of mine was how annoying some of the dialogue the supporting Decepticons had throughout the game, as Megatron becomes increasingly irritated by their babble as levels play out, so I really felt like I was Megatron in that manner. Strangely enough, Steve Blum (who voiced characters Dark Scream and W.A.R.S. in Robots in Disguise) plays the voice of Barricade, but is also the narrator of the game, which can leave you asking “Why is Barricade the narrator?” as both voices are the same. The answer: I have no idea. It’s not a bad thing, but it did make me chuckle.

Lastly, let’s talk graphics. War for Cybertron’s graphics are very crisp. Parts of characters’ bodies are always in motion, giving that real life-like feel to them and makes the experience very enriching. The only real problem is that most everything is the same few colors, so it can be hard to distinguish objects from one another amidst a firefight. Despite that, however, there are several moments where you just look at the game and go “wow, that’s cool!”

All in all, War for Cybertron is easily the best Transformers game we’ve had since the Armada themed game, and I’m very pleased to say that. It took some risks, for better or for worse, and came out a very solid product. An important item to note is that the game features a variety of multiplayer modes, including online play, and co-operative campaign modes, but I didn’t get to try these out for this review. You can breeze through the story mode of this game if you have the time and the drive, and that can make it feel a little light for price tag, but considering all of the Trophies/Achievements to be had, as well as the variety of multiplayer modes, War for Cybertron is absolutely worth it.

Review in Summary: Good looking game; vast improvements over the last title; original ideas; strong character roster; plenty to do. Buy this game, and you won’t be disappointed.