It didn’t seem all that long ago that we were witnessing the War of Cybertron in the fictional universe of Transformers, portrayed in video-game form by a title of the very same name. Now we’re dealing with its action-packed sequel, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We’re thrust back into the action as the last few days of the Transformers’ home planet, Cybertron, draw to a saddening close.
The lore, of course, has already been laid out in the Transformers story of course, but Fall of Cybertron’s focus is on the mechanical characters on both sides of the conflict. Returning players will either revel or be revolted by the highly familiar (and largely unchanged) third-person gameplay, and this review covers said gameplay as well as the ever-stunning visuals that this series is known for, regadless of whether they make up for a relative lack of innovation in the gameplay/mechanics department.
Players will be somewhat disappointed if they come to Fall of Cybertron expecting some radical gameplay enhancements. This game plays out almost identically to the first, bar a few tiny additions and enhancements to the upgrade/perks system. So we’ve still got a sort of Gears of War/Halo-style hybrid, with the shield/damage and weapon system of the latter and the explosive, room-to-room/area-to-area progression of the former. It’s all a thoroughly third-person affair of course (again, much like Gears of War), only here you have the distinguishing feature of rapid transformation between robotic and vehicular from. And it’s difficult to lie about this: these transformations look and feel very cool.
But to mention the enhancements to the upgrade system posited above, you can now purchase and upgrade weapons from a variety of what are known as Teletraan 1 outlets (this will be familiar to fans of Transformers). There’s also a ratings system where players can score each of the upgrades, with view to creating an informed online community that knows where to look for the best upgrades for their purchased weapons. It’s a little disappointing that the guns feel like they lack stopping power; having weapons that feel disproportionately weak compared to some of the more devastating foes in the game can feel highly disheartening.
If it’s one thing that High Moon Studios have managed to do very well, it is remaining loyal to the Transformers lore and foretold storyline. There are moments in the game where old-school Transformers fans will have an “aha!” moment with the dialogue, and this has never been truer than in the Starscream Coronation scene, where the dialogue exchange will have fans’ hairs standing on end.
There certainly could have been more effort put into the plot however. Often, there will be a focus on a character or two before said focus vanishes into thin air and you’re back to playing generic run, gun, and continue gameplay. Aside from a few epic and notable scenes retelling the classic Transformers story, you’re left with a sort of one-dimensional back-and-forth between Decepticon and Autobot factions. This isn’t terrible, but then again, it isn’t exactly brilliant for a sequel that has had the chance and the time to improve, either.
As ever, the highlight of Fall of Cybertron for many players will be its multiplayer. Annoyingly, there hasn’t been a significant amount of improvement from this game’s predecessor; things feel pretty much the same, only they look better as a result of the improved graphics, though this is an inevitability of improving technology over time anyway. Still, you’ve got the classic character classes – Titan, Scientist (healer), Destroyer, and Scout – and these make for some ever-entertaining multiplayer action rife with tactical gameplay.
You’ll find some weapons differences here that weren’t present in War of Cybertron (as well as minor changes to the abilities). The number of modes here also work in the game’s favour. You’ve got everything from classic Deathmatch to capture the flag. We’ve even been treated to a new mode, Headhunter, where you’re collecting trophies (known as Sparks) from your fallen foes. There’s no hiding it: Headhunter is a fantastic and welcome addition to this game’s multiplayer.
So, we’ve seen some incremental improvements between War of Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, that much is clear. The storyline is loyal to the original Transformers mythology; we’ve got a new multiplayer mode as well as tweaks to said gameplay here and there; single-player gameplay unfortunately hasn’t undergone a massive amount of change; Escalation is still outrageously fun to play, as far as multiplayer modes go anyhow.
What typifies the Fall of Cybertron experience, therefore, is a distinct lack of innovation and refusal to deviate from what the developers must see as a winning former. It’s hard to disagree with this to some extent, but this makes Fall of Cybtertron nothing more than a repackaged, slightly-altered, marginally-improved version of War of Cybertron, only one that focuses on another set of happenings from the Transformers lore. Still, it can’t be as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction, at least it’s got that going for it.