In my recent hunger for new games to play (not new to the world, just new to me, mind) I started browsing the Steam store… and playing some of the crap that was coming in off of my Gamefly subscription. In honour of the fact that I haven’t written a column in three weeks, I thought I’d throw out some quick thoughts on a game I’ve played quite a bit recently. Sadly, it’s not a new title anymore… but there it is. Maybe next time, Gamefly… maybe next time.
Transformers: The War for Cybertron – My most recent arrival from Gamefly. It’s a solid game. The game-play is pretty tight, and it does a pretty decent job of integrating the idea of both heavily armed and armored robots… as well as their ability to transform into things. The whole system is pretty simple – and you’ll discover over hours of game-play that it lacks a certain level of depth – but the game is certainly fun enough.
The single player mode has you taking command of a single Transformer in the service of either the Decepticons or the Autobots (both have their own full-length campaign mode, which combine together to tell a single story). We are taken far into Transformers Past and the initial battle for control of the planet Cybertron that began the million-year-long war between the two factions. Ambitious Megatron claims that he will build a galactic empire rightfully dominated by the power of the Cybertronians… while Optimus Prime and his Autobots battle based… well, mostly on principle. Honestly, we’re not given much background. Luckily, the story is simple enough; nobody is going to get lost in this narrative.
You’ll recognize the names, and the look, and even the transformations of the titular robots in disguise… but one of the game’s most disappointing features is that there isn’t the variety from Transformer to Transformer that you might be hoping for. Although each one has a unique loadout of one or two weapons, their unique transformation, and a pair of special abilities, all of these are drawn from the same pool (with the exception of the transformations… oh, and Megatron and Optimus Prime receive unique weapons… but they’re the only ones). Ultimately, you’ll probably end up fighting with whatever weapon you like best / whatever weapon you happened to find that will work for the given situation. This isn’t a terrible thing; after all, games like Halo are completely based on the concept of two weapon swaps, switching out weapons for new weapons and so on, and the model works.
Still, the game has some fun voice acting, some cool level designs… and it’s pretty fun to roll through. The levels are longer than I expected going in… which is both a plus and a minus. Since the gameplay is, on the whole, fun… it’s not debilitating… but some of the sequences definitely begin to drag before you’ll finish a given level. The sequences can be challenging, depending on your difficulty level, but there’s earnestly nothing in terms of tremendous innovation in any of the game-play sequences. Basically you’re thrust into a third-person shooter with a variety of terrain, weapons, and enemies… and you go to town. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing to this game that really makes it feel Transformers-y… aside, again, from the transformations themselves. At times, these will help you out, and do add an element to the game.. but you’re going to want to spend most of your time in combat in your robot form, doing robot things.
The multiplayer component features a few modes modes. The competitive multiplayer modes (Deathmatch, King of the Hill, etc.) bear some similarities in structure with Activision’s Modern Warfare 2, with perks and levels and so on. The co-operative multi-player is headlined with the by-now-completely-standard horde mode (called Escalation in this particular incarnation), where you face off against wave after wave of enemies. I know that there’s only so many permutations of multiplayer modes; particularly within a given genre. I accept that each game isn’t going to break new ground with its multiplayer modes or concepts. That having been freely admitted? There wasn’t much to get hooked on here.
If for some reason you haven’t been turned off by the movie franchise or the endless bastardization of the classic Transformers, and you enjoyed this game, there’s something to look forward to: A planned sequel in 2012.