Does the mere mention of the license name Transformers flash you back to a childhood memory? That is ... if you are old enough. After all, Generation 1 of the Transformers franchise dates back to 1984.
Maybe you are the current gen of Transformers’ fans, having been inundated with too many games, television series and movies that have been only OK or mediocre. And if the very name of the Transformers’ franchise leaves a taste in your mouth like you just chewed on a piece of aluminum, the good news is that the latest video game in the series is actually pretty good.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a third-person action-adventure that boasts a strong single-player element and decent multiplayer online modes. Missing is the campaign co-op mode featured in 2010’s Transformers: War for Cybertron, but in the overview, that’s not a detriment because the campaign itself is very much worth the 10 or so hours it takes to complete it.
What makes the campaign so much fun is actually what some may perceive as limiting. The game has 13 chapters, each one of which focuses on the abilities of a pre-determined character. Nope, you can’t create or choose which character you want and then zerg the levels. Each level is crafted to challenge the skill sets of the central character, which may be an Autobot or Decepticon.
If the level gives you Jazz, for example, you may be using Jazz’s hook to grapple across the zone. The tutorial level features Bumblebee, and you have to transform into the race car, at times, build up speed and then jump over the gaping holes in the terrain.
The single-player campaign (designed by High Moon Studios) is intelligent and quite a bit of fun. And there are delightful surprises, in terms of the characters, along the way. Grimlock’s sword-and-board combo is interesting, but when Grimlock transforms, the fun kicks up a notch. (If you don’t already know, Grimlock transforms into a mechanical, fire-breathing T-rex creature.)
In addition to the Campaign mode, there are five multiplayer modes that players can indulge in: Escalation, Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Capture the Flag and Headhunter. Escalation mode requires up to four players trying to fend off 15 waves of swarming enemy bots. If you are looking for time to breathe, quit and play a different game. The action ramps up with each wave, and it can get intense.
Headhunter is also a team-based game wherein players kill other players, collect the spark that is dropped, and then hurry it back to the node to score the points. For the multiplayer side of the game, players can create an Autobot or Decepticon, customize the loadout, armor and personality, choose from one of four classes (Infiltrator for fast, hit-and-run bots; Destroyer, with heavy armor, can take a beating while supporting other classes; Titan is built for destruction—big and powerful; Scientist is ideal for aerial attacks and the ability to heal other bots) and then go at it.
Graphically, Transformers boasts more of a rich look that sports great animations. The environments are amazing and the action is well rendered. The sounds of the game add another solid element to bring the world to life.
There were a few (read that as rare) times when the frame rate took a wee bit of a hit, but that was when the action was frenetic, the screen was full of effects and the intensity level was amped up.
Summary: The strength of the single-player campaign mode alone is enough to recommend Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. While the game can feel a bit on the linear side because there are no options to pick a character for each chapter, and each chapter has defined goals (this cuts down on replay-ability), the look and feel of the game is inviting and makes this an entertaining fall title. The multiplayer modes (particularly Escalation) just add flavoring to an already tasty game. The game is available on the 360, PS3 and PC platforms.