2010 Reviews

Transformers: War for Cybertron

  • Review Date: 2014-04
  • Release Date: 2010-06
  • Developer: High Moon Studios
  • Rating: 8.5

I decided to play this directly after Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, because they share some similarities. They're both based on mega franchises with big, blockbuster movies to back them up. They're both third-person shooters and they were both created by Activision subsidiaries. I didn't expect much from Transformers, especially looking at how bad the previous the last Transformers game looked, released just a year prior in 2009.

Fortunately, this is not a movie tie-in, so developer High Moon had creative freedom and didn't have to rush the game out. It shows, because War for Cybertron (WFC) is my surprise of the year so far. I'd even score it higher than Metacritic's average 76%.

WFC feels a bit like Gear Of War. Big, chunky characters, high-paced gameplay with powerful weapons, huge levels and huge bosses. It only differs by having not cover system - thank fucking god for that. And we all know how popular Gear Of War is, so there's no reason why someone shouldn't like WFC just as much as that franchise.

The best feature is undoubtedly the visuals. Based on the UE3, High Moon know how to push the limits with some stunning environments. I usually comment on set-pieces in games, most have a few. WFC is just one goddamn set-piece after another. Everything is monstrous and epic, level-after-level. The game really doesn't take much of a pause to bore you with corridor shooting. Probably the first level is actually one of the weaker ones, but later on there are some massive environments, particularly involving bosses. Omega Supreme and Trypticon are ridiculously big.

The design is based entirely around Cybertron, so there's no boring earth environments here. Everything feels very alien and dark. It has to be one of the most impressive displays of a tech-world I've seen in a game. Bottom line is, the design is a 10/10. The bots all look great as well.

As far as storyline goes, the first half is played as Megatron and two buddies. As solo play they're controlled by bots, but the game works better as three-person co-op. Megatron takes control of Dark Energon, the Dark Energon bridge, then tries to infect Cybertron with the Energon. Once you take over as Optimus Prime it's up to you to stop him. The game does feel a hopeless in the end, as you sort of fail as Optimus Prime, and really on live on (for a sequel). But the story is pretty good.

I mention co-op would work better than solo because sometimes the A.I. bots can be a bit dumb. There are times when you need to attack an enemy from behind, but the bots just keep following you around which makes it quite difficult to get behind the enemy! They also have a habit of taking off or being left behind.

The opponents aren't the smartest A.I. either. Many times I'd notice an enemy right beside me just standing there doing sweet nothing. There are many boss battles, some balanced properly. Only the finale ended up a bit tough as you spend more time scouring for bloody ammo instead of actually fighting. There was one other battle where you need to protect Ratchet from an onslaught of enemies that goes on far too long and is completely unbalanced (too hard). But overall gameplay is good fun. You also have a couple of powerups you can use, but apart from Megatrons health drainage, they weren't all that useful.

There are two major criticisms I have. The first, despite a really good looking GUI/menu, the keyboard configuration can not be modified. Don't like WASD? Too bad, you're stuck with it. Even programs like GlovePie and AutoHotKey couldn't get around it.

Also the FOV is horrible. How this got past beta-testing with making everyone sick, I don't know. I played this game in two sittings, though with lots of breaks in between, and both times it wasn't long before I started to get motion sickness.

But overall, I'm a sucker for a good looking game, and WFC brings the candy, so I'm bound to like this. The combat is fun. The story it's own take instead of hopelessly trying tie into the movies and put an ADHD Shia LaBeouf into the mix. Very good! And I'm not even a Transformers fan, so no fanboyism here.

Transformers: War for Cybertron