Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron Copyright: Activision

In this week’s Red Bull Gaming Blog, Glen Ferris finds there’s more than meets the eye with Transformers: Fall Of Cyberton…

Transformers: Fall Of Cyberton - Review

Unless hyperactive editing, nonsensical storytelling and shots of giant clanging robot testicles are your idea of a fun night at the movies, there’s no denying that Michael Bay’s Transformers movies are an utter pile of (s)crap.

The central conceit – giant robots that can turn into cars, planes and even dinosaurs kicking seven shades of rust out of each other – however remains undeniably cool. Even now, when we should have grown out of this sort of thing, Transformers still hold a great deal of appeal, even if the cartoons, films and games spawned from Hasbro’s toy range haven’t always lived up to their simple premise.

The third-person shooter Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron is just what Autobot aficionados and Decepticon devotees have been waiting for; a game that revels in the fun that comes with messing about with morphing mechanoids, while also providing some much-needed gravitas to stop the whole thing from becoming too silly.

Set on the Transformers’ home world, Activision’s latest for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC picks up from the events of 2010’s War For Cybertron as the Autobots plan to leave their dying planet In search of more peaceful environs only for Megatron, Shockwave and their nasty cohorts to throw a spanner in the works.

A far less puerile experience than the big-screen Bayhem, Fall Of Cybertron may be no great shakes in the storytelling department but it benefits greatly from a hugely entertaining script and voiceover work. Happily, the Transformers themselves - all too often relegated to stereotype cyphers in the films - are fleshed out nicely here.

This expansion of the characters’ personalities is made partly necessary due to the fact that you never play more than two chapters with one robotic avatar, swapping as you do between Autobot and Decepticon battle lines. Each character is gifted with a different specialism and transforming mode, so expect to get your hands on everything from an anti-gravity car to a metal-clad dinosaur.

Each Transformer has a special ability that can come in very handy as the game progresses – Jazz has a grappling hook, Megatron can hover in mid-air, Optimus Prime can call in airstrikes and control the bloody huge Metroplex – and all come complete with vehicle and robot mode weaponry as standard. What’s more, they’re all also fully upgradable, so the possibilities for pimping your ‘bot are nigh-on endless.

The only Transformer to buck the trend is Grimlock, a completely different beast who dusts up with a sword and shield building up his rage meter until he transforms into a fire-breathing T-Rex – an extraordinarily entertaining element we challenge you not to be blown away by.

It’s this finger on the variety button that makes Fall Of Cybertron such an unfettered joy. Graphically, it’s a lovely to look at with the transformations themselves (especially the aircraft-based automatons) incredibly well animated, but the real appeal is the breadth of ways to play.

Take, for example, the level where you control the Combaticon Vortex. Allowing players to switch between robot, helicopter and jet, you play in a huge open world where you decide whether stealth or bombast, hit or run is the best form of offence. This, combined with ride-and-shoot levels and mech melees means the seven-plus hour running time never gets boring.

However, while it’s not as feckless as its cinematic cousin, it’s not quite the rounded success it could have been. Developer High Moon’s aim, it seems, is to ape the shallow nature of the blockbusters by failing to challenge its audience - A.I. is pretty stupid and the missions themselves are fairly easy to complete, while the multiplayer options are sadly limited.

That said, this is by far the best Transformers title ever made and one of the best action games of the year so far, you'd be hard pressed not to have a lot of fun with this one.

 

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