Transformers: Fall of Cybertron review: fan-service

High Moon Studios shocked the gaming world, including myself, when they released Transformers: War for Cybertron, a faithful look into Transformers lore. Fall of Cybertron is a follow-up to 2010's surprise hit, chronicling the planet's dying hours. While it makes some sacrifices in terms of gameplay, but Fall is made of even sterner stuff than its predecessor. It's a truly epic tale that's a must-see for every fan of the Transformers franchise. The story picks up right where War left off, with the Autobots looking to pick up and leave the dying planet. Players take the role of different Autobots and Decepticons throughout the story, showing off different perspectives of a war-torn Cybertron. focalbox Like its predecessor, FoC is a third-person shooter. There are several areas where numerous Decepticons lurk about, but just as in any war, there are ally Autobots to help out. Unfortunately, this can get messy, as it becomes hard to tell the difference between friend and foe. Shootouts can become tactical affairs, as players must be sure to aim carefully before taking out Decepticon forces. While players will have a powerful melee attack at their disposal, jumping out head-first into a warzone is suicide, as their shields and health bars prove to be surprisingly fragile. In one instance, I figured I could jump into a group of five enemy robots and take them out, only to find myself at the wrong end of a Decepticon beatdown. Bucking the trend, FoC doesn't offer a cover system, making this feel like a throwback to classic 90s shooters. The multi-character narrative affords the game a variety of unique gameplay scenarios. Optimus Prime, for example, fights in the middle of the robotic trenches in an all-out war. Cliffjumper explores an ancient Cybertronian pyramid and must use stealth in order to evade powerful Decepticons. These stealth missions offer many opportunities to logically employ vehicle modes, as Cliffjumper explores the pyramid's various nooks and crannies while escaping near-invulnerable Decepticons through cracks in the wall. Jazz gets to use a grappling whip to reach faraway areas or bring down unstable structures.

Optimus Prime and Metroplex enter the fray

Fall of Cybertron's multiplayer options include Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Capture the Flag, Head Hunter, and Escalation (essentially the series' horde mode). These modes remain fun to play, but are largely unchanged from War for Cybertron. There is an added emphasis on character customization, however. Players can pick one of four classes and customize their characters from scratch. As players level up, they'll unlock additional designs for their character, in addition to various weapons and perks. I found myself revisiting Escalation quite a bit, since it's the only mode where I can team up with my friends, but I've noticed the intensity of the AI has been ramped up significantly since WfC. Teams shouldn't expect to breeze through waves so easily this time around. Unfortunately, there is one major omission that I couldn't ignore. FoC has scrapped a co-op campaign mode--one that proved to be so much fun in High Moon's original game. With the exception of Frank Welker's absence (Fred Tatasciore is voicing Megatron), Fall of Cybertron offers a wealth of fanservice. High Moon does justice to every character, showing exactly what makes Optimus Prime is the undisputed leader of the Autobots and giving similar spotlight to many of the franchise's other characters. Anyone who calls themselves a Transformers fan owes it to themselves to pick this game up.
This Transformers: Fall of Cybertron review was based on a Xbox 360 retail version of the game provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 3.