Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 2:21PM
The strange thing about doing these movie and video game reviews --in this small little corner of the internet -- is that you’re not beholden to a deadline or an angry boss. I get to sit down with games as long as I like, sometimes this backfires into a gaming catastrophe. Fortunately, for this current generation of gaming, a game like Transformers: War For Cybertron may not be this year’s biggest release but its budget indicates how seriously the project was taken. Games are expensive now. They are expensive to make, buy and invest in. Luckily, War For Cybertron wasn’t restricted to a movie tie-in release which typically kills licensed games [see also: previous Transformer game]. Transformers: War For Cybertron has a terrible name. It sounds extra ‘videogamey’ doesn’t it? The game is good. Its not perfect, but what game is? There is a strong chance that this game could age really well. A rarity in the age of 3D.
Playing through the single-player campaign was priority number one. I have one of those unfortunate mental illnesses that hinders me from appreciating a game’s multi-player [which we’ll get to], or even the game as a whole if some attempt at making a logical story with robots isn’t made. Luckily the cheesy dialog between our favorite fictional robots are all here. Looking at the line up of voice talent, it is clear the people over at Hasbro wanted the traditional roots of the Transformers franchise to be pushed to the forefront -- though they may not have been able to get every character pitch perfect. There are unfortunate nods to the current Transformers movie franchise [occasional references to ‘The Spark’].
Confession, I’m not that big of a Transformers fan. I thought the original cartoon was okay and so was the movie. Nerd sacrilege right? I like Beast Wars, but it was only because it starred a robotic transforming gorilla. Learning that Starscream was the original leader of the Decepticons was lost on me. The constant back and forth bickering between Megatron and his back-biting colleagues was mildly humorous. I would imagine this would tug at a nostalgics heart-strings. Optimus’ heroic speeches and Bumblebee’s impetuous antics made for a smirk or two, but ultimately the story for War For Cybertron teeters on fair to passable.
Odd decisions were made in this game. Say you go it alone or decide to play co-op with a friend, its strange how this game is structured as a third-person shooter but doesn’t allow you to take cover. It even shows your non-human partners and enemies crouching behind objects. Your best bet is to stand behind a tall-blocky entity, which plague the level design of Cybertron. Since we are on the subject, the level design of Cybertron ranges from vast and vibrant to sterile and repetitive. You’ll notice that every mission you play consists of you running down a hallway then two paths appear that lead to the same area, said same area is typically a circular-domed room in which a major battle occurs. But its cool right? You get to transform at will and shoot stuff with big guns and the shooting mechanics are well realized. Only you run out of bullets. Yeah, you’re a transforming robot that runs out of bullets...great.
The battles are pretty amazing as far as those who may have prayed for a robotic version of Shadow of the Colossus. Fighting for either the Decepticons or Autobots, you get a sense that your cause is just -- even if you do have to head shot a couple of your robotic brethren. The multi-player mimics the Deathmatches and Capture-The-Flag modes found in “Gears of Duty”-type games. The online multi-player is fairly addictive and there seems to be an easier learning curve than some of the more hardcore shooters out there. Hopefully months from now there is still an audience and development team willing to support the online modes.
The worst of War For Cybertron is the foundation its built upon. The Unreal 3 physics engine will cause you to stick in walls or jump and fly in an odd manner. At least it did on my PS3 version. This is an unfortunate and noticeable ding against an engine that shows incredible detail in any Transformer you choose. The glitch-heavy environments are translated in the multi-player where jumping, transforming and shooting feel second-nature, but making a simple 180-degree turn depends on how close to a wall you are.
I really liked Transformers: War For Cybertron. I didn’t get the same feeling I got when I played Red Faction: Guerrilla last year, but there is something special about this game. There is still something to be said about a game that may not have all the fine trimmings of its well known superiors, but manages to impress on a smaller level. Transformers: War For Cybertron proves that developer High-Moon Studios, has a keen eye and appreciation for the little things.
I Give Transformers: War For Cybertron
The “Micheal Jackson In Overalls Award.”