Transformers: War for Cybertron Review

28 07 2010

Introduction

Transformers: War for Cybertron is a third person action adventure game that was recently released on June 22, 2010 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 and developed by High Moon Studios; who previously developed The Bourne Conspiracy and Darkwatch. In this title you can control a multitude of Transformers from either the Autobot or Decepticon factions through out ten chapters which are broken up in two distinct but related campaigns. In the single player campaign which is set years before the actions of the animated cartoon, these factions are waging war on one another over the control of their home planet Cybertron.

Can this title be a success and live up to the standards put forth by fans of the animated cartoon or will it simply fall under the radar to never be seen again? Continue reading to find out.

Single Player

High Moon Studios had a lot going against them when making this title, for instance not much success has been established by developers using a licensed property. Not to mention the nostalgia most feel in my age demographic regarding the animated cartoon. Put all of that together with their relatively lack of experience and most would say High Moon Studios was destined to fail. Transformers: War for Cybertron just goes to show that a developer without huge previous success can take a licensed product that is revered so highly and make a high quality game while still staying true to the old fans and simultaneously introducing new ones.

This quality wasn’t apparent from the beginning however, upon inserting the disk I was tasked with a very lengthy mandatory install and the first chapter was one of if not the worst chapter in the game. Not much was explained and I found myself fumbling around the terrain while I familiarized myself with the controls. Luckily I didn’t have to familiarize myself with the terrain too much considering much of the first half of the campaign was repetitive and reused. However the interesting story and the fulfilling combat was enough to carry me through and good thing since the rest of the Decepticon campaign and the entire Autobot campaign was fresh and fun.

Speaking of the two campaigns I enjoyed how the two were functional when they stood alone but connected to each other. In other words you were able to play as the “bad guys” during the Decepticon campaign along with the “good guys” in the Autobot campaign but successfully win during both opportunities. The entire 10 chapter campaign didn’t feel rushed as it took me roughly 12 hours to complete on medium difficulty. Each campaign had interesting yet challenging boss battles along with nods to hardcore fans but not too much that would make a newcomer feel out of the loop. The campaigns story was interesting and intriguing but ultimately boiled down to Megatron’s quest for the energy source Dark Energon and the resulting destruction and eventual rise to power of Optimus Prime that caused these two factions to fight over the fate of Cybertron.

Transformers: War for Cybertron is fundamentally a good as well, the graphics while they won’t make you gasp are detailed enough to enable you to vividly see all the detailed moving parts of each Transformer. The audio while also not a stand out does play well within the game. Also I found the voice acting to be authentic as the characters banter between each other during the missions further assured you of their character and the attention to detail put forth. The combat appears to be specifically tailored as you can transform at will allowing for almost limitless possibilities during combat which the game certainly expects and encourages you to do. The later levels promote these possibilities of combat that is unique for each Transformer making for fantastic and fun gameplay.

While it’s a solid title it’s certainly not perfect. Even though the 25 minute mandatory install at the beginning is becoming more normal in today’s game it is still a major inconvenience. Not to mention even with this install the game still had a significant amount of loading during the game. Other issues were the occasional dip in frame rate, mainly while loading, along with the inconsistent play of both the enemy and friendly AI. At times the friendly AI was helpful and actually shot at the enemy while you posed as a distraction while other times they proved to be completely inept. This same inconsistency seemed to be apparent in the enemy AI as well — again at times enemies would tactfully try to attack you while other times they ONLY focused their shots at you no matter how hard you tried to hide, since there is no cover mechanic, or where your allies where. This caused certain difficulty spikes throughout the game that again were frustrating.

In most games there is not much reason to replay the single player campaign as most of the replayability comes from the presence of or the lack there of a multiplayer, Transformers: War for Cybertron is different. The entire campaign can be played cooperatively with up to three people online and with different characters to choose from each with a different fighting style I found the campaign can be satisfying to replay multiple times. During these multiple play throughs you can try out the challenging difficulty settings or try to obtain all of the trophies which help promote the game by challenging you to play using different strategies. Overall I was surprised at the amount of replayability that existed just in the single player campaign before I even delved into the multiplayer.

Multiplayer

After completion of the single player I was excited to jump into the multiplayer which is rich with features, plus who of us hasn’t dreamed of a multiplayer shooter with Transformers and thought it would be rad. The first mode I tried out was High Moons Nazi-zombie mode called Escalation; it’s a four person co-operative mode where you select a specific Transformer and try to survive waves of other Transformers while simultaneously purchasing health, ammo, weapons and unlocking new areas of the level by using the points you earned from kills. This mode was both hectic and rewarding – I found I easily grasped the concept considering the gross amount of time I have spent playing the Nazi-zombie mode in Call of Duty: World at War. The fundamentals are similar, you frantically run around while continuously fighting progressively more difficult masses of Transformers. Team work is mandatory if you expect to get to a higher wave but if you die you only have to wait until the next wave, if your team survives, to respawn.

The other aspect of the multiplayer was the traditional 10 person online customizable class based shooter with all of the conventional game types including team deathmatch, free for all, capture the flag and headquarters. I was eager to try out this mode but whether or not I over sold myself I was under whelmed with the overall experience. First off even when I tried playing during prime hours the multiplayer was barren this is not the games fault but it took several minutes to even find a game. Upon finding a game I had hopes of picking one of the several iconic characters from either the Autobot or Decepticon faction only to find out I had to choose from a bunch of nameless Transformers under four different classes, Soldier, Leader, Scientist and Scout. These certain classes can be customized with certain weapons and abilities that unlock based on your level however each class is leveled up individually.

Upon entering the match I found the combat was no fun at all. The combat was chaotic, frustrating and unbalanced with no real direction or tactics involved but relied more on luck. The player is never rewarded for being tactical but more importantly all that appears to matter is having the better class setup which requires a higher level. The shooting felt inaccurate and took way too many bullets to kill an enemy leaving me frustrated when I would tactfully move around the symmetrical map to a better position to only unload an entire clip and die.

Granted I may just be bad at this particular type of multiplayer option but these are not my only complaints. I was often times disconnected from the online games or the host would leave either way I would have to restart from the lobby in an attempt to locate other players in a desolate online mode. Lastly more of a personal opinion I was let down by the amount of customization that was available, while there was some High Moon could have taken it a lot deeper than they did. For the most part the multiplayer feature had all of the pieces to be a successful component but in my eyes these pieces just didn’t fit together properly. This doesn’t make it a bad option but rather an option that’s not for me.

Overall

Overall I think Transformers: War for Cybertron does a fantastic job at creating an origins story that old fans can applaud and newcomers can enjoy. But when contrasted against other 3rd person shooters in its genre it’s rather generic and has quite a few growing pains despite the historic rivalry that is presents. While certainly not a bad title I do believe its thought of more highly, by me included, because the Transformer named is so revered by fans and the names of these Transformers are so nostalgic not to mention the complete lack of even a competent Transformers game in the past. Don’t get me wrong there is truly some shinning moments in this title and I believe High Moon Studio has built a solid foundation and should be applauded for their effort and respect of the subject matter when developing this ultimately enjoyable game.I just think when it’s all said and done Transformers: War for Cybertron is just a good short term diversion and nothing more.

During the summer lull of releases its difficult to find any game to play let along a quality game therefore if you’re a Transformers fan or just looking for a quality game to play during this down time then no doubt I think Transformers: War for Cybertron presents enough of a value to purchase and play through. However if on the other hand you don’t have the same fond memories of Transformers or have a healthy backlog to play then I suggest you don’t purchase this title but feel its at least worth a rental at some point in time.

Transformers: War for Cybertron for the PlayStation 3 was provided to me for reviewing purposes by Activision. The games single player campaign was completed on the medium setting in 11.5 hours. I subsequently spent another 8 hours playing the multiplayer and co-operative features while obtaining 24 of the available 51 trophies. Transformers: War for Cybertron was developed by High Moon Studios and published by Activision and is available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC systems.

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E3 2010: Day Three Photos

21 07 2010

As I stated earlier I wanted to express my E3 experience as best I can but instead of simply listing my experience in text format I figured a sideshow of pictures I took throughout the day would best showcase this event. This is a continuation of some earlier posts Day Zero, Day One and Day Two— I apologize for the delay but still wanted to share.

These pictures do a wonderful job cataloging my day by showing you what I did and saw while also allowing you to see the rare sights of E3 first hand. I hope I was able to capture the experience and express my enjoyment through these pictures  as Day Three was the last day of E3. Enjoy!

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Have a favorite picture or just would like to comment on a particular photo? Please do so in the comments below.





E3 2010: Day Two Photos

20 07 2010

As I stated earlier I wanted to express my E3 experience as best I can but instead of simply listing my experience in text format I figured a sideshow of pictures I took throughout the day would best showcase this event. This is a continuation of some earlier posts Day Zero and Day One — I apologize for the delay but still wanted to share.

These pictures do a wonderful job cataloging my day by showing you what I did and saw while also allowing you to see the rare sights of E3 first hand. Enjoy!

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Have a favorite picture or just would like to comment on a particular photo? Please do so in the comments below. Also be on the look out for more photos from Day 3.





inFamous 2 Announced

14 07 2010

You probably read this title thinking, that’s old news and granted it is but my excitement over this announcement is so high that I could not help but share my enthusiasm even if it is considered late.

I heard this announcement along with everyone else days before E3 which is why I hesitated to write anything since so much was unknown and I had high hopes of playing or seeing more at E3.

Unfortunately Infamous 2 was not being shown at E3 at least for those with out an appointment. However even those that did have an appointment weren’t given much more than we already knew via the Game Informer cover article. Not being able to play or see any more information was one of my major disappointments of E3 as I absolutely loved inFamous as it was even in my top games of 2009 and I eagerly awaited an announcement for inFamous 2.

While not much is know we do know that along with a revision in design Cole will posses new powers, be exploring a new city and fighting against tougher more diverse enemies. Sucker Punch also has plans to make the city feel more inhabited while also improving and adding on to the traversing mechanic Unfortunately we will have to wait at least until 2011 but if your itching for more information then maybe these newly released screenshots will hold you over for the time being.

What would you like to see in the new inFamous?

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E3 Hands On: NBA Jam (Wii)

14 07 2010

As with my previous two hands on impressions this game was also not announced at E3 this year however unlike the previous two games NBA Jam is not in 3D nor is it a PlayStation 3 exclusive.

NBA Jam is a remake of the classic 2 on 2 style over the top arcade game that will be releasing later this year for the Nintendo Wii. As someone who enjoys both basketball and over the top arcade games I have been anticipating this title for some time now but was also skeptical if EA could pull off the same feel and enjoyment of the arcade title.

My first opportunity to play was with another media individual against the computer. Before the game started an EA booth representative explained the basic controls before setting us loose. NBA Jam uses the nun chuck and the Wii remote – to jump for either shooting or blocking shots you flick the Wii remote up, to finish the shot, dunk or block a shot you jerk the Wii remote back down. The nun chuck is used for movement along with sprint, to pass you simply press the A button. After only a few possessions I easily grasped the basic controls allowing me to perform absurd passes that lead to acrobatic dunks.

The gameplay is fast paced with no actual defensive or offensive plays to call or execute. The entire offensive repertoire is pass, crossover, shoot and dunk. While defensively you can steal, shove and block shots but be careful not to goal tend. Although that may seem limited to some I found it had just enough depth but was also basic enough that it allowed you to focus on having fun.

So, it passed the fun test, but did it feel true to the original? Yes, I was actually surprised while playing just how authentic to the arcade title it actually felt. So much so that they actually brought back the famous announcer. The visual style also stays true to the original with crazy dunks and fast paced action however this time the heads of players are actual photographs. While we weren’t able to play with anything but the current NBA rosters I was told that historic duos from the arcade will make an appearance in this new title.

To sum up my experience I found my self through out the expo continually going back to play NBA Jam on multiple occasions as it was so easy to pick up and play while being extremely fun. After playing this title for myself my excitement for this title has been renewed and intensified. I can not wait to play more of NBA Jam and I will most certainly pick up this title for my dust covered Wii – which says it all.

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My Extra Life

12 07 2010

Extra Life is a 24 hour charity gaming marathon started by Sarcastic Gamer that raises money to help heal kids. The past two years it has raised over 250k (1/4 million) dollars that all went to the Texas Children’s Hospital. This year Extra Life is back and with a new development. In 2010 gamers will still will be raising money for kids with life threatening illnesses but instead of going to the prestigous Texas Children’s Hospital 100% of the funds will go directly to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of your choice. This means that your amazing efforts will directly benefit your local community regardless of where you reside.

I have participated in this event in the past but this year my passion to help has been significantly increased by events that have occurred in my own life. As some of you may be aware my now four month old son required heart surgery at 3 weeks old. As a parent this was one of the most difficult situations I have been through however throughout the entire process our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Central California, not only took excellent care of our son but informed and helped us through the process as well. I have no doubt they saved my son’s life and I will be eternally grateful for that. Now I say this not as a sad story or to gain sympathy as my son has recovered extremely well and is completely healthy today. But rather to illustrate just one of the thousands of stories about the wonderful facility that helped my son and thousands like him and continue to help children who are still fighting and will continue to fight.

For those reasons and many more I feel the least I could do is attempt to help a hospital that has given so much to me which will in turn help another family or child. So this year on October 16th 2010 I will be participating in Extra Life 2010 hopefully joined and supported by you. Yes, I am talking to YOU.

Now comes your part. You may be thinking how can I help or why should I help I don’t have children? Well lets face it we all have someone we know who has been struck with a serious illness plus no one likes to see children suffer. Not to mention you never know your efforts now could help you, a friend or family member in the future. Take me for example, I never thought I would need the services at such a facility yet it was essential that I did. At the very least we all could use a little positive karma for helping.

Now that I have you convinced you can donate to my page specifically by clicking here (all proceeds will be going to Children’s Hospital of Central California) or you can sign up yourself by going here and raise funds for your community. If you plan on doing that be sure to sign up for our team by searching for “Beyond The D-Pad” under Find a Team in your account main menu. If all that seems to be too much then please at least help us spread the word by telling your friends, family, enemies and everyone you come in contact with. We need all the help we can get, Thank you!

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If you would like more information regarding Extra Life you can get that by going here. Alternatively if you have questions or concerns you can leave a comment below and I would be happy to help. Also if you have a story to tell on who you would like to dedicate your efforts to and in the process give hope to others or if you just want to express your support I encourage you to do so in the comments section below.