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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30 responses

28 07 2010
Shaha44

BEEORP-BEEP-WHOOSH-BORP!!!!!! That was my lame attempt at a Transformers sound. As always, great review. What game is next on your list, buying a 360? Teeheehee.

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

Thanks, you know I am not sure. I was thinking of picking up Split/Second but I really need to play Red Dead Redemption.

Actually the new 250GB 360 is slightly tempting me, we’ll see. I need to play the games I have for PS3 first. 🙂

29 07 2010
DinoJeebus

BLORP BLERP BAMP SSSH! My robot sounds are way better than Shaha’s. Cool review Terrell Browens.

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

Thanks, appreciate the feedback. Hope to see you in the comments more.

29 07 2010
Mark L.

Nice review! Definitely impressed with what High Moon has done here, and I hope they get to do more with Transformers! 😉

29 07 2010
ilRadd

Transformers bring back a lot of fun memories!

Would love to get this game.

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

It did with me as well when I was playing through it.

Good luck!

29 07 2010
Andrew

Thanks for the review! Sounds like a good, but not great, game.

29 07 2010
T-Mack

Very interesting article, thanks. Keep up the good work.

29 07 2010
Hemang Shah

Nice Review. Can’t wait to play the game.

29 07 2010
#1 Gamer

found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

Thanks, I look forward to having you back. If I can make your experience any better just contact me.

30 07 2010
GregHorrorShow

Will probably pick this up when it drops in price to be honest – sounds like a decent single player mode in places. I’m all for giving ‘average’ games a chance if they’re fun so thanks for the review.

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

If you were a fan of the animated cartoon then this title gets boosted from the average spot quite easily. I just saw your review of Red Dead Redemption, didn’t read it yet as I hope to start playing through it soon.

Thanks for the feedback and support as always.

30 07 2010
Ryan H

This really seems like the best Transformers game to date. Lots of fan service.

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

Definately! Although it didn’t have much competition. I enjoyed the little nods to the fans as well.

26 04 2011
Emeline

I’m impressed! You’ve managed the almost iposmsible.

30 07 2010
Neil

Great review, its awesome when a licenced game is actually good 🙂

30 07 2010
iZer

I always laugh when i see 3-players story coop. Why not 4 high moon? hehe

Nice review. I didn’t know about the Escalation mode. I’m a coop guy and having more then just 1 coop option in a game is awesome!

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

Then I guess you could say why not 5 and so on. Instead I would rather have couch co-op that is lost in a lot of games these days.

Escalation mode was one of my favorite parts of the game, but then again I enjoy some co-op as well. Thanks for the comment and the kind words.

30 07 2010
totoguy

This game looks awesome, finally a decent Transformers game.

30 07 2010
DynamiteMax

Didn’t think this game was going to be that good but after reading this review and others, it looks like it’s alot of fun. Thanks for your detailed insight on the game.

30 07 2010
Phoenixx

Thanks for your review. It’s good to hear that High Moon is able to deliver a solid game for a licensed title.

30 07 2010
BeyondTheD-Pad

Like I mentioned they appeared to have a lot up against them, I am happy they pulled through and delivered not only a good licensed game but a good Transformers game as well.

31 07 2010
Jason

Good review, who knew this would be the first Transformer game that didnt suck

1 08 2010
Ryan H

I still remember buying Beast Wars on PS1 and hating myself for it.. but playing it anyway because i paid the $50 for it.

1 08 2010
DeanM1978

I’ve been a Transformers fan since I was a kid & I’m a gamer as well so I can definitely see myself getting into this game especially on multiplayer.

10 01 2011
Game of The Year: 2010 « Beyond The D-Pad

[…] Morphing into the #5 spot is … Transformers: War for Cybertron […]

17 05 2011
Ty

I’ve actually had the game for a while now, really nice game. I play it all the time. I’m wondering when the sequal will come out though. The alias I play as is Virexx in case any one here has it for pc. Very nice review, quite through.

18 05 2011
BeyondTheD-Pad

Thanks for the reply.

The sequel, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, will be out June 14th and like you I am eagerly anticipating it. Check back as I am sure I will have a review posted.

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