I should get this out of the way now, I am a child of the 80s. I grew up learning life lessons from soldiers and robots that could not hit the broad side of a barn with a laser gun.
So, when I heard there was another Transformers game in development, I was excited. Now I was also cautious because the past several years have not been kind to my robotic brethren in disguise, the first movie game was garbage and the second was simply okay. But there were some redeeming qualities about the announcement. First this was a prequel, no direct movie or show tie in, and second High Moon Studio (creators of Darkwatch and the SCRUM game development method) was the announced developer. The final plus was the fact that most of the original animated series voice actors were going to be included. My heart skipped a beat at the chance to hear Peter Cullen declare “how many shall stand and how many shall fall”.
So let us start with the campaign, you can play either the Decepticon or the Autobot campaign. If you’re looking to play the events in chronological order, the way High Moon Studio’s intended, then you will be playing the Decepticon campaign first. But if you are like me and dislike the idea of being evil, the Autobot campaign will catch you up on what has happened in the story so far.
The campaigns are broken into chapters, and at the beginning of each chapter, you make a choice of which character you want to be. There are three characters to choose from, with each belong to one of four classes, Leader (Optimus/Megatron), Soldier (Ironhide /Starscream), Scout (Bumblebee/Breakdown) and Scientist (Ratchet /Soundwave) . As you play through the campaign, there are chapters that are air focused, giving you the choice between three different jet characters, and chapters that are ground focused give you the choice between car and tank characters. The only downside to this, is there is never a mixture of both ground and air, but it is a small complaint to not have Megatron (Tank) and Starscream (Jet) in the same level bickering at each other.
The gameplay is what you would expect from action/adventure game, think of it like Ratchet and Clank, just with grownup robots. You will have access to a bevy of weapons, ranging from Sniper Rifles to Rocket Launchers, and taking a move from Halo 3, you can mount turrets and rip the gun off to take with you. All of your characters have access to a double jump and depending on their special abilities, they may be able to perform midair dashes. Of course, all of your characters have the ability to transform at any time, giving them access to both different special abilities and different weapons. This might seem like a obvious addition, but it is important to mention, because there were quite a few times I found myself transforming out of vehicle mode, sliding into the enemy and then laying waste to them with my melee attack. Speaking of fast movement, the gravity of Cybertron is definitely different from earth, your robot will be able to jump and do midcourse corrections in air. It is helpful when you are trying to pull off a last minute rescue of a down compatriot or trying to desperately reach an energon container. Which leads to one of the disappointments, the Transformers are not as self sufficient as the media might have lead to you believe. Regularly you will find yourself running out of ammo, grenades, and health. The solution for this is to hit one of the many boxes laying around the environment, which depending on the type of box will deliver more energon, armor, ammo, or a new weapon. This can lead to frustrating moments where you are left with the wrong weapon for the job. There is never a point where you can’t fight, but shotgun versus air targets is a difficult challenge. Like War for Cybertron’s Atari predecessor, you will find yourself facing huge enemies, ranging from Enforcer bots, that are three times your size to enemies the size of skyscrapers. While sometimes the scale seems off between the Autobots and Decepticons, it is these fights that show you why this universe is more than simply a toy line. While they can be formulaic (destroy the glowing spot three times), they will test your skills and remind you why people keep going to see the Transformer movies.
So far I have played through both campaigns on the medium difficulty, I have also gone back and earned all of the bonus campaign achievements. I have played several team deathmatch sessions online and I am currently working to schedule some cooperative gameplay time. While this is not a formal review, this is a quality game and if you are looking for something fun to play with some nostalgia, War for Cybertron meets those requirements.
Let’s get the basic details out of the way now. This is a game for the Xbox 360, Windows PC, and Playstation 3. It offers two campaigns, one Decepticon (Evil) and one Autobot (Good), each approximately 5 hours long. Each of the campaigns are broken into chapters, and within each chapter you get to choose 1 of 3 characters to play as. Now the characters you choose in the campaign are licensed characters, instead of generic robot, and they are divided into 4 categories, Scout, Scientist, Soldier, and Leader. These categories effect which special abilities and starting weapons you have. The campaign can be played as a single player experience or as either a cooperative experience or a competitive experience, via Xbox Live or Playstation Network. Transformers War for Cybertron offers the standard multiplayer modes, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Solo Deathmatch, etc. It also offers a clone of Call of Duty: World at War Nazi Zombie mode, with waves of robots attacking and you able to spend the credits earned to buy ammo and health.