It has been some time coming, but finally the world of G1 Transformers has been brought to life in a three dimensional video free games. War for Cybertron is a third person action game, set on the Transformer’s homeworld during the final stages of the civil war which ultimately led to their mass exodus and eventual encounter with humanity.
The campaign mode is split into ten chapters. Five of which see you play as the Decepticons, as Megatron embarks on a quest to master “dark energon” and use it to corrupt Cybertron’s core; the other five see you play as the Autobots, as Optimus tries to stop him. Chronoligically, the Decepticon chapters happen first, but you have the option to start with either faction.
Before the start of each chapter, you are given the choice of three characters to play games as ‘” and the list is great. Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave and Barricade are among those present for the Decepticons, while the Autobots boast the likes of Optimus Prime, Bumblee and Ironhide. Long term fans will be pleased to see Air Raid, Warpath, Silverbolt and Thundercracker on the roster too.
Whearas the last few Transformers games (based on the Michael Bay films) offered a sandbox style of play, Transformers: War for Cybertron is a third person shooter in the vein of Gears of War. The chapters are intesped with cinematic cut scenes that add to the movie-like presentation, but throughout actual gameplay points of interest will often be highlighted, which you can focus on by pressing down on the d-pad.
While you can transform into your respective robot’s vehicle mode at any time, the emphasis really is on shooting. You can carry two weapons at any time, smashing energon crates to find ammo, health and various other armaments in the Transformer arsenal; which include sniper rifles, gattling guns, grenade launchers, shotguns and assault rifles. And if you’re out of ammo, you can press the right analog stick to melee your opponent.
That is not to say that the vehicle mode is redundant, though. There are long sections of highway in the Autobot capital of Iacon. Racing through the translucent pipes, while Decipticon artillery literally destroys the world around you was one of the game’s highlights. There are scores of set action pieces which really highlight just how cool the title’s destructable enviornment mechanic is.
Each campaign has a “flight” level too, in which vehicular mode plays a larger role. The enemies in the game range from lowly grunts which can be easily despatched, to Brutes which require a much more tactical approach, with each chapter ending with a boss battle. Some of which being your standard-fare “find the weakspot while avoiding the attacks” but some are much more interesting. On the Autobot level, Ariel Assault, you fight Trypticon ‘” a behemoth of a robot ‘” as he falls to the surface of Cybertron. You are sucked into a freefall mode, and maneuviring your Transformer becomes difficult, but it is a welcome break from the norm and a wonderful way to cap one of the campaign’s highlights.
One of the really cool things about the campaign, is that you can play three player co-op via xbox Live (or the PSN network). Though i suppose this often leads to arguments over who gets to play as Megatron.
There is another co-op mode, entitled Escelation, which is very much like Gears’ Hoarde mode. You fight waves of hostile Transformers with the only goal of surviving as long as possible. During which you can spend recovered energon on weapons and unlocking new areas of the map. So it is similar to Nazi Zombies in that sense.
The game also features a slew of different multiplayer modes, which include standard death matches along with team games such as “Exctinction” in which two teams fight to detonate/defuse a bomb, “Conquest” which is a capture and hold style game, and “code of power” in which the opposing teams slug it out to gain control of a giant melee weapon.
When playing multiplayer, you are unable to play as canon Transformers, which is disappointing. Instead you need to create a custome character, where you essentially get to choose an existing character’s build and customise the colours. This is a very lackluster and undeveloped feature of the game, and brings the multiplayer experience down a little.
There is also a levelling system, which allows to unlock new starting weapons and special abilities.
The main positive of this game is its campaign. The story is great, and beautifully told through cut scenes, set action pieces and in-game dialogue. Visually, Cybertron is stunning; so much so that i’m not sure if i enjoyed watching pieces of it fall apart or not. The Transformers themselves also look great, and move very fluidly. The actual transforming motions are a highlight, and the accompanying sound is very cool. The controls are also very intuitive, making it easy to get the best out of your robot.
Soundwise, the in-game score could be a little better in parts, though it is solid. The voice acting, however, is simply top notch. Many of the original voice actors from the G1 cartoon return, including Peter Cullen (Optimus), Issac C Singleton (Soundwave) and my personal favourite, Sam Riegel (Starscream).