[We know, we know: this review is incredibly late. What happened was that we got embroiled in a journey that took us across the galaxy, battling space dinosaurs and rescuing furry critters from the clutches of maniacal madmen bent on... eradicating furry critters. Eventually, we proved triumphant. Mostly. But more importantly, while all of this was happening, our review copy of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron sat unattended, longing for a reviewer to gaze into its lonely eyes and provide our readers with a verdict on its action-packed innards. What really happened is that there were a few mix-ups in the delivery of it to the intended reviewer. We're sorry about that. Rather than leave the game alone and un-reviewed because of this, we wanted to put our review out there anyway for anyone who might still be on the fence about the game. And here it is! – Ed.]
As gamers, we have become conditioned over the years to be wary of movie-to-game licensing. That is changing though, with the most notable champion of this recent trend being Rocksteady Studios with the recent Batman franchise. While High Moon’s shot at Transformers may not be quite as revolutionary as Rocksteady’s work, the studio is taking some pretty impressive steps in a fantastic direction. Transformers: War for Cybertron surprised everyone by actually being really cool, and Fall of Cybertron has lifted the bar higher once again.
Platforms: 360 / PC / PS3
Once again, the developer has achieved something quite special with Fall of Cybertron, in that it not only honours the series by acknowledging pretty much everything that is actually cool about being a Transformer, but it also recognises what makes a good third-person action game, and delivers it with conviction.
Fall of Cybertron kicks off with the bad guys having won what seems to be the final in a long line of fierce battles. The Autobots are abandoning their home, but the Decepticons are determined to hunt them down as they flee. The story becomes character driven, and in each level you play as a different Transformer, but the overall narrative is strung together surprisingly well. Like War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron is loaded with well-placed nods to the series and classic iconography.
Not only does High Moon do absolute justice to the fiction, but once again, I was pleased to discover that their game is also a really enjoyable action-shooter. The levels are well designed, the combat is solid and everything feels great. The campaign is structured in such a way that variety is constantly at the forefront of the experience, and this is partly facilitated by the delivery of different playable characters. Fall of Cybertron does away with the campaign co-op that was present in the previous game, but as a result, each level is designed around a single corresponding character’s abilities; a design move that has some pretty awesome results.
Variety is also delivered by the sheer number of different weapons there are to try out. A lot of them are pretty familiar if you have spent any time playing shooters, but they do also have their own distinct feel. Then of course there is the ability to transform, which means that each character you play actually has two variations of itself, which is especially cool during the flight levels. One of my favourite features of Fall of Cybertron is the upgrade system. You can now customise weapons and equipment in truly meaningful ways, or purchase universal perks that improve things like movement speed and health.
In terms of length, Fall of Cybertron offers good value and is at times surprisingly challenging. Some of the boss fights are simply spectacular, as are the set pieces. There is also a fantastic multiplayer mode, and you can now create your own Transformers to take into battle. The more time you spend in the multiplayer, the more customisation options you unlock. There are ten solid competitive maps on offer, but don’t expect anything revolutionary in the way of gameplay modes. Then there is the wave-based cooperative Escalation mode, which makes a return from the previous game.
Another highlight of Fall of Cybertron is its graphics and sound. The game looks gorgeous, and the animation in particular is of an exceptionally high calibre. As your Transformer moves, metal plates shift, cogs turn, and the accompanying sound effects finish off the overall experience, leaving you with a very satisfying sense of an almost electrified, moving world. The character dialogue is also fantastic, and the scripting and voice acting aligns perfectly with what you would expect from the series.
Altogether, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is everything you could want and more in a third-person action game based on this iconic fiction. If you like War for Cybertron, then you will love Fall of Cybertron.