Friday, 14 September 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron review

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a love-letter to the shape-shifting robots and a thoroughly entertaining third-person shooter.
Formats Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Developer High Moon Studios
Publisher Activision
Released Out now
Inspired by the 1980s Transformers cartoons, rather than the insipid Michael Bay films, Fall of Cybertron is a love-letter to the shape-shifting robots and a thoroughly entertaining third-person shooter to boot. While Bay's vapid adaptation drained the character from the Transformers --churning out gormless movies about dog-humping, robot testicles and looking down Megan Fox's top-- Fall of Cybertron developers High Moon remember what made the original animation and toyline so beloved: charm, cheesiness and camaraderie.
Those who don't know their Swindle from their Sideswipe may well be left baffled by Fall of Cybertron's scattershot approach to introducing characters and the numerous nods to the 1986 movie, but High Moon make little apology. This is fan-service writ large and with such reverie it's hard not to be swept up in the wave of nostalgia. So fans will unquestionably get the most out of the game, but strip away the layer of familiarity and there's still a good-natured, punchy script underpinning some excellent action.
The game picks up directly after the events of High Moon's previous proper Transformers game, War for Cybertron. As their home planet dies, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons battle over the last scraps of energy. The game switches focus between the two factions as the plot unfolds, offering you a different transformer in each chapter. Rather than the identikit classes of War for Cybertron, the transformers throughout the single-player campaign are more defined. Each character has their own unique ability which their respective levels are then built around. So Autobot leader Optimus Prime has access to a mortar strike as he powers his way through a large-scale battle, Cliffjumper has a cloak to sneak through a more compact covert mission while Jazz has a grappling hook and plenty of platforms to leap about on.
The tight pacing of the game makes excellent use of this variation, dividing the missions into chunks that are long enough to stretch out each ability, but short enough to keep up the thunderous tempo. This constant bait and switch is entertaining enough to distract from some fairly limited level design, which relies too heavily on lever-pulling and frustrating chokepoints, dropping you into an arena and bluntly throwing a ton of enemies at you. There's also a disappointing lack of focus on actual transforming. While you can shift to and from your vehicle form at the press of a button any time you fancy, the levels all too often fail to take advantage of the transformers unique selling point.

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