Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fall of Cybertron Review

Review: Transformers Fall of Cybertron

Starscream: Who dares disrupt my coronation!
Megatron: Coronation?  This is bad comedy.
Starscream: Megatron is that you?
Megatron: Here’s a hint!
Megatron turns into a cannon and blows Starscream away

Ah… memories… you are so good to me!  Transformers Fall of Cybertron brings plenty of good memories and combines them with fun gameplay.  Crazy Gamer recommends the game highly!
But enough with the vague platitudes, I’m not running for office here!  Let’s get to the nitty gritty and I’ll describe in detail while I feel you should play this game.

For those of you who don’t know Transformers Fall of Cybertron (from here on FoC) is a third person action game by High Moon Studios.  The game is available for PS3, X-box 360, and PC, I played the PS3 version but as near as I can tell all versions have the same features.

Graphics- The graphics are top notch for the current generation of systems.  Animations are crisp and I especially appreciate that all the transformation animations were different.  Optimus Prime transforms in a business-like manner whereas Jazz is flashy and Megatron is intimidating. 
Environments are good, not great.  There are a lot of industrial areas as one would expect from a game that takes place on a robot planet.  Still, I wish there was a greater variety of environments.  I almost wish they had taken the game a few steps further to prehistoric Earth in order to add some more environments.  Still it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the game.

Gameplay- At first I was worried.  Unlike the previous game in the series War for Cybertron in which you were allowed to choose the Transformer that you play as, FoC has dedicated chapters in which you play a specific Transformer. 
Like most kids of the 80s I have my favorites and I want to be able to play as them.  I was scared, what if I had to play as Thundercraker or… shudder Arcee? 
When I saw the list of playable Transformers I was assuaged a bit, but why would I want to play Cliffjumper if I could play as Prime?  I soon learned however that everyone is worth playing.
Prime plays like a general; he even gives you the ability to call down artillery in the form of Metroplex’s huge guns.  When you play him you’re the hero, saving the day for the autobots all over Cybertron.
Cliffjumper is a little guy and if you’re not careful you’ll get yourself shot to pieces, but he can cloak and get into tight spots.
Jazz plays flashy with a grapple ability that has him zipping all over the place.
Starscream is a back stabber, he cloaks like Cliffjumper but unlike Cliff who uses his ability to get around tight spots, Starscream sneaks up on enemies to gut them from behind.
When the Combaticons “merge for the kill,” into Bruticus you feel unstoppable.  I had the overwhelming desire to go on a rampage and for a bit I lost track of my mission. 
Megatron makes you feel like a badass and his scenario recreates in part the coronation of Starscream from the 1986 animated movie.
The bottom line is that all the scenarios are different and all are fun to play. 
Now a few critiques
I wish Soundwave would have had more to do.  You play as him very briefly in the beginning of Megatron’s chapter and I wish I could have played him longer.  Soundwave ejects his disks (Rumble, Frenzy, and Laserbeak) to do his bidding and I think a really cool chapter could have been designed around him.  Maybe it’ll come in the form of DLC.  Also, I wonder where Ravage and Ratbat were.
Grimlock- Every other Transformer in the game can transform at will by pushing the left analog stick in except for one and that one is sad to say Grimlock.  Instead you accumulate rage points from killing decepticons.  On one hand I can understand why the developers decided to do this.  Transformed Grimlock an avatar of destruction who crushes all underfoot or with swings of his tail and if that wasn’t enough he can also breathe fire.  Why would I want to not have him transformed and therefore why have his untransformed version at all?  I understand High Moon, I really do.  I just wish I could maul decepticons as a mechanical T-Rex at my leisure.  I’m selfish that way.
The game boasts 13 chapters.  Finding most (near 80%) of the hidden stuff and playing through the entire campaign will take you a dozen or so hours.  The game has plenty of content and it’s a testament to the awesome experience that High Moon has given me that makes me greedily want to have more to play.  I do wish that upon replaying a chapter that you could choose what Transformer you play as.  In some cases this would require limiting the options (Grimlock wouldn’t fit in Cliffjumper’s chapter, but Bumblebee would).  This would allow us the chance to play some of the cameo characters such as Ironhide or Ratchet.  Maybe some worthwhile DLC will come out that will allow this.
The only area that I would label the game weak in is the weaponry.  Perhaps weak is too strong of a word, rather the variety is lacking.  No, that isn’t it either.   How about this; there are a lot of choices but not all of the choices are viable or as viable as they should be.  There are about a dozen stock primary weapons available from the get go and another half dozen that can be unlocked throughout the campaign.  Of these I found that I only used three with any regularity.  The heavy weapons are even worse of the few that are in the game only two stood out.  Hopefully this will be addressed in future DLC.
Sound- FOC’s music didn’t stand out, nor was it loud and obtuse either.  It does its job, so I have no complaints here.  For a game such as this I don’t need a moving score, just one that does not annoy me. 
Should you just plug in your mp3 player then?  No!  The voice work is very good.  I would label the voice work in the top five for the entire generation.  Peter Cullen reprises his role as Optimus Prime and he as usual does a fantastic job as does Gregg Berger who reprises his role as Grimlock.
However some new talent is also present.  Nolan North does a great job with Cliffjumper.  He plays him with a slight inferiority complex which long time Transformers fans will appreciate considering that characters history.
Fred Tatasciore plays Megatron and at first I was sad that Frank Welker didn’t play him.  I wrongly thought that Welker had voiced Megatron in War for Cybertron but I was incorrect.  Megatron was played by Fred in that game also.  Fred is perhaps most famous for his line in Assassin’s Creed II where he plays Italian noble Mario Auditore with the famous line; “It’s a me Mario!” Anyway I digress; the bottom line is that he does a very sinister Megatron.
The voice work is great throughout.  There are no weak roles here.
One problem does surface however.  The in games “chirps,” come in at various volume levels.  Sometimes they are hard to hear, other times they are louder than ambient noise.  It isn’t a deal breaker, but it is a bizarre occurrence in an otherwise polished game.

Other issues:
I’ve had a few issues of the game freezing.  Hopefully future updates will correct this.

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