You know, sometimes I amaze even myself. I don’t know I did it, but I missed any advertising for Transformers: War for Cybertron. I missed the trailer at E3, didn’t notice the full page spread taken out in a local gaming magazine, nor did I catch any ads of TV. It’s not that I don’t like the Transformers but when I was a kid, the GoBots were my bots of choice but sadly they faded into mediocrity with the rise of the Transformers.
Transformers: War for Cybertron (hereby shortened to WFC) wasn’t even on my radar until the good folks at Megarom sent it over to me. I could have easily dismissed it as another money-making movie tie-in, but Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen served that purpose and didn’t do such a great job.
WFC is different. For one thing, it’s not set on Earth so there’s no need for pithy humans who can’t act their way out of a paper bag, also (and more importantly) it’s a really good game. In WFC, developer High Noon Studios has taken the Transformers story back to their home world of Cybertron and explores the origins of an epic war that leads into the events of the 2007 movie. Malevolent Decepticon leader Megatron wants to return Cyberton to his version of a “golden age” and has discovered a new power source that will help him achieve his goals. It is up to the Autobots to prevent this at all costs. The battle lines are drawn and it’s time for you play your part. My review of WFC rolls out after the jump.
After a short intro (and a lengthy 20-minute, 5GB install) you are dropped into the action and faced with a choice of which campaign to start with. The story is told in ten chapters with the first five dedicated to the Decepticon campaign and the remainder forms the Autobots story. You can start at the beginning or if you’re not feeling the chronology vibe you can start in the middle somewhere. Each chapter also gives you a choice of which bot you want to play as, and each has a specific weapon, class (and inherited vehicle type), and special ability.
The first thing I noticed off the bat was how great the environment and the characters looked. Clearly the Unreal Engine is really good at rendering metallic things. The bots are nicely animated and while in their humanoid forms you can see gears and pistons moving on their bodies. Their interactions with the various objects in the game are also handled well. The transforming bits are the best – the characters obviously don’t change into a Hummer or a Camaro as we’ve seen in the movies, but they’re still instantly recognizable. At the click of a thumb stick, you’re effortlessly transformed into a car, tank, or jet depending on the character you’re using. It is pretty slick but I like it mostly because the sound effects are so cool.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a gimmick, transforming plays quite an important part in the overall gameplay. Changing into the vehicles allows you to get around faster, and fly to otherwise inaccessible levels; they are also weaponized and can be handy if you’ve run out of ammo for your guns while in humanoid form. It is such fun flying into a little nook that a sniper is hiding out in, quickly transforming back into humanoid form, meleeing the crap out of him, transforming back into a jet, and flying out again. This kind of ad hoc strategy makes the combat situations much more entertaining. Each character has two abilities – Energon and Cooldown. The Energon abilities can be recharged from the shards that are released from slain enemies and once used the Cooldown abilities are only available after a small cool down period. The abilities range from whirlwind melee attacks and draining enemy health to cloaking and deploying barriers and add a nice element to the gameplay as well.