After two mediocre releases on the Xbox 360, 2010’s Transformers: War For Cybertron provided fans of the long running Transformers franchise the game they had long been asking for. Rather than rebooting the Transformers story in the way that Michael Bay did with his trilogy of movies, High Moon stayed true to the 1980's G1 cartoon storyline, and indeed added to its history with a campaign that took place on the Transformers home planet of Cybertron.
With the game’s sequel, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Xbox 360) Achievements, now available to purchase worldwide, does it add to the solid foundations that High Moon have already built? Here’s our review to help you decide.
More than meets the eye
FoC's campaign fills the gap between the closing stages of WFC and the Transformers' storied arrival on Earth. After years of fighting between the Autobots and the Decepticons, their home planet Cybertron is dying, and with energon in short supply, it appears that only one of the warring factions will be able to leave in search of a new planet to sustain their existence.
To say that Fall of Cybertron improves over its predecessor would be as much of an understatement as saying Metroplex is quite large. The game plays very much in the same way as WFC and stays true to its core ideas, but the overall scale of the game has been ramped up a few notches with improved visuals, gameplay variety and most notably a much stronger sense of storytelling through the campaign’s 13 chapters.
Fans of the first game will notice a number of changes immediately, most significantly in the storytelling. Whilst both the Autobots and the Decepticons share equal play time, the story has now been condensed into a single campaign that switches between the two factions throughout. The character selection for each chapter has also been removed, and whilst this makes for a seemingly more linear experience, the benefits it brings to both the story and the gameplay vastly outweigh any negatives.
By fixing the amount of time you spend with each character, High Moon have been able to add a depth of character development that wasn’t available previously and helps to set up some of the game’s brilliant cut scenes and quick time events that all add to the stories chemistry.
The changes also allow for a major boost in the gameplay experience from chapter to chapter. Instead of having to cater to a range of character options, each level has been created to cater to the playable characte'rs skill set and special abilities. From the early chapter which sees the diminutive Cliffjumper sneak through the levels hidden tunnels to perform stealth kills, to the puzzle-like level using Jazz’s grappling hook, the campaign has a level of gameplay variety that you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
For those of you who might be disappointed that character selection has been removed, there is the option to customise your load out at multiple points throughout each chapter. Destroying enemies leaves behind energon shards which when collected can be used as in game currency in the new Teletran 1 terminals. These terminals are generously scattered throughout most levels and allow you to purchase new weapons, upgrades and perks.
There have been a couple of nice little changes to the game's controls as well. Pressing B will switch your gun to the opposite arm allowing you to find cover and create different angles. Pressing Y will switch between the two available weapon slots allowing you to carry heavier weapons such as rocket launchers and machine guns.
The characters available have also had a massive boost. Of course, you have your staple cast of characters and their respective alternate modes which allow you to switch to a car or plane at any point in the game, but the new additions of Grimlock and Bruticus add some brilliant variations.
‘Til all are one.
Any respective shooter wouldn’t be complete without a horde style mode, and this is available via the game’s Escalation mode. Escalation allows you and up to three other players to battle through 15 waves of enemies, with each wave increasing in difficulty and number.
This makes for some frantic, non-stop action, where teamwork and communication can make the difference between survival and death. There are four available classes to choose from before each match but each one can only be used by one player. Classes offer different support roles such as ammo or health regeneration.
I’ll be honest when I say that the game mode does feel easier than the one available in WFC, but then again I have only played on the hardest difficulty briefly.
One shall stand, one shall fall.
Competitive multiplayer is of course available with the four game modes of Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Capture the Flag and Head Hunter. While each of these game modes have been seen before, the ability for each character to transform at any any time allows for a really unique and addictive experience.
The four available classes are brilliantly balanced, and offer something different in terms of both gameplay and strategy.
Character customisation returns, but the range of options available this time is huge. Every part of your character can be adjusted to make a truly unique character, with new parts available to purchase with either energon you have earned by playing the game’s multiplayer modes or via DLC packs.
The co-operative and competitive campaigns are missed, but the improvements this adds to the gameplay and story more than make up for it. The campaign may feel short to some, but its no shorter than the ones you will find in most shooters these days.
Shooting mechanics, level and character design are all done brilliantly, and for fans of the early cartoons and comics, the game’s dialogue is full of nostalgic one-liners.
With a strong multiplayer to sink your teeth into, co-op via Escalation and an amazingly addictive campaign, this is not only the best Transformers game released to date, but also one of the best third-person shooters to be released so far this year.
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