Transformers: War for Cybertron – PlayStation 3
Platform: PlayStation 3
Developer: High Moon Studios
Release Date (NA): June 22, 2010
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Cloud3514
Transformers doesn’t have the strongest relationship with the video game medium, with just about every game prior to War for Cybertron (and almost every game after) being forgettable or outright bad, with the apparent exception of 2004’s Transformers Armada based game that I never played. It stands to reason to have assumed that War for Cybertron would have just been another throwaway game in the franchise, but instead, it is easily one of the best games to come out of the franchise and by far the best Transformers game at the time of its release.
On the planet Cybertron, the Autobots and Decepticons have been locked in a civil war for millenia. When the Decepticon leader, Megatron, takes an aparently neutral space station (possibly Autobot, the game never specifies) run by Starscream and Jetfire, he uncovers Dark Energon, which he plans to use to destroy the Autobots and win the war. The game covers the events that lead to the end of the war starting with Megatron’s assault on the space station.
The basic story is the basic premise of just about every Transformers continuity, from the original ’80s cartoon to the live action films, but it is done differently enough to be its own continuity that may or may not connect to the Transformers Prime cartoon, depending on what day you ask Hasbro.
The campaign and, by extension, the story is split into halves, one where you control the Decepticons and one where you control the Autobots. While they can be played in any order, the Decepticon campaign is chronologically first and it is obvious that the story is meant to be played with this in mind. The Decepticon campaign is about Megatron finding Dark Energon and finding a way into Cybertron’s core to corrupt it with the Dark Energon, while the Autobot campaign starts immediately after and is about Optimus Prime and the Autobots’ attempts to stop and reverse the corruption.
Gameplay utilizes the third person shooter perspective with a strong emphasis on three player co-op. It controls like a mix of Gears of War and Halo, but with the ability to transform into a vehicle at any time. After all, this wouldn’t be a Transformers game without being able to turn into a car, truck, or jet. Only this time, the vehicles are all techy, alien, and weaponized.
There is little emphasis on cover with no crouch button or cover system, but it is important to know where you can hide from gunfire as standing in the open will have you finding yourself losing health very quickly, and health only regenerates to the next quarter of your health bar unless one of your partners uses a heal ray or you find an Energon Cube.
The shooting is great and it is fun and satisfying to try out the large variety of weapons until you find the ones you like and, even then, you’ll find yourself wishing that you could carry more than two at a time. Grenades, on the other hand, you’ll likely never use and will just hope you find the healing Energon Grenades every time you open a grenade box.
However, there are several points in the campaign where ammo is bizarrely scarce. Your weapons simply cannot hold enough ammo and you’ll find yourself searching more often than you’ll like. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only negative thing to say about the game.
While the good parts of the game strongly outweigh the bad, there seems to be a counter point to all of the highlights. The graphics are good and the characters look both accurate to the original cartoon and new and unique for the new universe with creative environments, but the scenery is always bleak and grey and gets repetitive and there is the occasional texture pop in on the characters. The gameplay is fast and exciting, but having to scrounge up ammo is annoying and oftentimes the game will just stop to load.
No kidding on that, either. It happens in just about every chapter. You’ll be running along, shooting Decepticons/Autobots and then the game will just stop. It will then take several seconds to load, but it takes you out of the action every time.
The action, while fun, can get pretty repetitive and it is obvious why the co-op aspect was dropped for the sequel, Fall of Cybertron. The game also likes to throw annoying and frustrating cloaked enemies at you too much, especially during the Decepticon campaign. It tones back a bit during the Autobot campaign, but they’re still there and there isn’t much of a reliable way to deal with them as the alien landscapes make their active camo practically impossible to see, even with their guns making a bright light before firing.
Still, the game is fun and pretty. Despite the repetitive locales and the texture pop in, the game looks great. The characters are colorful and resemble their counterparts in most other continuities, with Optimus turning from a big red and blue robot into a big red and blue truck and Megatron featuring his iconic bucket helmeted head.
There is a large variety of characters, with each mission featuring three characters to choose from, though four of the five missions for each faction will feature either Optimus Prime or Megatron, depending on if you’re playing as Autobots or Decepticons. Other iconic playable characters include Bumblebee, Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, Jetfire, Starscream, Soundwave, Brawl, among others.
There are flying missions in both campaigns that break up the action a bit and it is a lot of fun to fly around as the Decepticon Seekers and Autobot Aerialbots, though the Seeker missions comes a bit too early and the Aerialbot mission a bit too late to be as effective as they could be.
The game’s music is nothing particularly amazing, but is solid and fitting for the action. It is mostly industrial metal tracks with a few touches of orchestral score. It doesn’t do much for the atmosphere, but it does help pump you up for the action. Though the ending credits song is absolutely ridiculous and amazing.
Peter Cullen reprises his role as Optimus Prime and is a welcome presence. His performance is fantastic and equal parts experienced soldier and humble leader. Other actors make an effort to emulate the performances of the original actors who played their characters with the notable exceptions of Johnny Yong Bosch as Bumblebee, who portrays the young Autobot as a hotblooded scout and Fred Tatasciore as Megatron, whose performance quickly became my favorite portrayal of Megatron in all of the Transformers franchise. It has all of the menace of Beast Wars’ David Kaye, and the anger and presence of the live-action films’ Hugo Weaving with a touch of the 80s cheese and gleeful evil of the original actor, Frank Welker. Tatasciore and Cullen easily steal the show.
There are two multiplayer modes, a competitive class-based mode and Escalation, a horde mode. While fun, the online multiplayer is dead. If you can gather some friends to play with, you will enjoy the multiplayer, but is unlikely that you will be able to play much of it with strangers.
All in all, Transformers: War for Cybertron is a good time. The multiplayer may be dead and the campaign can get repetitive, but the good very much outweighs the bad, especially if you bring friends along for the ride. The story is solid, even if it is just the same backstory that every Transformers continuity has and the voice cast is fantastic. The action is great and the campaign is lengthy. Playing as the iconic characters, whether alone or with one or two friends, is charming on its own.
And not only is the game good, but the tie-in action figures were fantastic. I still have the War for Cybertron Optimus Prime and Megatron sitting on the bookshelf in my living room. This game was so good, it got me to buy the toys it was advertising. Mission accomplished, Hasbro.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is available on Playstation 3, X-Box 360 and PC.
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