For those that have lived through the many different manifestations of the franchise, they understand when I say that Transformers: War for Cybertron was a long-time coming. Even though there has been so much potential in so many adaptations, High Moon did what others couldn’t up until this point, give players a game that was expansive, enthralling, and above all… fun.
Set a millennia before the original cartoons, or “G1” in the fanbase lingo, the game explains how certain things came to be: Optimus gaining his “Prime” title, Starscream leaving the Autobots and so on. The ability to show us the end of the civil war on Cybertron brings fans to a place that we have only really seen in flashbacks and cutscens – and that’s something that fans have begged to glimpse for thirty years.
Considering that this has gotten the Hasbro stamp of canon, the storytelling is plausible and it flows easily enough. It won’t get them an Emmy, but it get’s the job done in terms of keeping you entertained and wanting to finish the plot. There are instances where you feel like you’re missing some of the plot, during important pre-level loading, yet it’s not enough to drag you away from the action or the overall gameplay.
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Which is where the game excels: the gameplay. At any given time, the ability to transform into your iconic vehicle is possible. Though somewhat redesigned into a Cybertronian vehicle, characters like Bumblebee and Warpath still have their same appeal and design as they always have. Knowing when and how to shift between forms is a must from the beginning, because in later levels, not knowing which design is best can hurt, rather than help. Flying off a ramp with a turbo boost, transforming into your Autobot mode to melee a jet in mid-jump, only to land and detach a turret and use it against Starscream – everything has a strategic thought. It’s subtle touches like this by High Moon that provide players such a rewarding Campaign gameplay.
Yet the action doesn’t stop there. Allowing gamers to play through as an Autobot or Decepticon in their own unique campaign wasn’t enough, they also allow you to pair up with a friend and go through the missions together, either on the same machine or online. Of course, once you finish the campaign, you and your friends can team up and go at it with multiplayer.
With gameplay that’s nearly frantic in it’s styling’s, yet a class system that is almost perfectly balanced enough to keep the battle constantly going from Autobot to Decepticon. Choosing between classes such as Scientist or Leader, you zip, fly, or tank your way around the map, in an array of different levels. In one sense, it’s somewhat like Unreal Tournament meets Age of Empires. Arguably, that’s a strange comparison, yet when you think about it, you have to know when you use your characters and where. If you’re trying to plant the bomb as the Decepticon’s on the Autobot’s place, then you have to know where to use your units and if they should be transformed or not. Overall, a frantic yet satisfying experience.
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The problems that will come up however are of course the 5-gig install on your hard drive, that can take at least 30-minutes, and even then there will be an update afterward. In addition there are the color hues of purples, blacks, and oranges, the frame rates and pixels tend to blend and drop, making you lose focus and getting you to aim at the wrong bot. Then there are the boss battles, which could end up taking 30-minutes in themselves in the higher difficulties by yourself, because of the instant-death attacks.
Still, the overall ability to bring a game with as much fun, a story with this much heart, and devotion to canon can’t be passed up. With a multiplayer that will keep you coming back for more, this is a game to keep on your shelf for years to come, even if you were scarred by past games.
ZoKnowsGaming can proudly give Transformers: War for Cybertron an 8 out of 10.