Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron – E3 Preview
As someone who wasn’t born in the eighties and thus not subjected to that many cartoons used to sell toys to the young and gullible (like me), Transformers was always something that passed me by. “Oh hey, they’re robots that change into other things, cool,” I’d say, before watching beloved, well remembered classics like Sheep In The Big City. Transformers, however, has gone from strength to strength, mostly due to Michael Bay’s cinematic “vision”, but also games like 2010′s War For Cybertron, which took place millions of years before the Autobots and Decepticons had even heard of Earth. This year, High Moon Studios are upping the ante as Cybertron takes centre stage again – not for a war, but for its fall.
Picking up where War For Cybertron left off, the action begins with said conflict in its dying days, but it’s not good news for the Autobots, who aren’t looking likely to emerge the victors. Both sides are bolstered by the addition of Dinobots and the Insecticons in the battle for the remaining Energon, with characters like Grimlock receiving more back-story to boot. Initially, we were shown a mission where the player took control of Starscream, as he attempted to usurp Megatron in the midst of battle. As he snuck up behind a guard, he planted some explosives on his head, causing the previously unaware robot and the nearby wall to explode into tiny pieces.
As the chronically back-stabbing robot flew through the makeshift window and above the battle below, we were told that High Moon wanted to create a more epic scale for the ongoing war, and what we saw did much to confirm that. As Starscream hovered over the battlefield, you could see robots attacking each other in the distance, explosions blasting all around and Transformers scurrying across the battleground. Then the carnage stepped up a notch as the Decepticon began firing missiles with wild abandon, blowing up allies and enemies in equal amounts. This was soon noticed, causing the player to quickly destroy those racing to a communications post to send out an alert about the betrayal.
The action then turned to an earlier mission featuring Grimlock, who will have a re-imagined origin story for the purposes of the game. Armed with an energy sword instead of a gun, Grimlock began to let rip on the hordes of Insecticons in his path, as we were told that, unlike the other Transformers in the game, Grimlock is unable to swap to his alternative form at the push of a button. Instead, he has to earn his transformation by laying waste to enough enemies in order to fill up a meter that’ll then lock him into his dinosaur form. Once he’s morphed into a raptor, he’s able to charge his enemies and set them on fire, though something tells me that the latter ability wasn’t very common in his reptile counterparts. Unfortunately, I was more than a little let down by the fact that his dino carnage was diminished by the presence of the clichéd “Wall-smash” boss – you know the drill, just wait until they charge at you, move out of the way, then hit them when they’re stunned after they’ve tasted a face full of wall. Yawn.
Just as we were about to see what happened to Insecticons after a combination of wall-related concussion and dinosaur-related mauling, we moved on to Optimus Prime, who is once again voiced by Peter Cullen. As the demonstrator skipped to the part of the level they wanted to show off, I was struck by how many chapters the level contained; clearly the “more epic in scope” idea applied to the their length, as much as the battles. Before Prime began to deal out some metallic destruction, he needed pay a visit to one of the nearby vendors, which allow you to purchase weapons or improve your current arsenal. Admittedly, the gameplay on display in this segment was much more akin to what little I played of War For Cybertron, but more streamlined and fast-paced.
Finally, we were left with a sequence described as “one big buddy cop moment”, as Cliffjumper and Jazz stumble upon what may be the last pool of Energon on the planet, and race each other to the precious material. As Cliffjumper speeds off into the distance, Jazz is ambushed by approaching Decepticons, and must take them down in order to make a clear pathway for the Autobots as well as win the bet. Truth be told, it seemed like a rather fun section, combining fast-paced pseudo-platforming with combat as you move from area to area to take down your foes.
However, our time with the game was soon at an end, but not before we were given some more information about the game’s forthcoming release. Those wanting a PC version are in luck, as High Moon Studios are teaming up with Mercenary in order to make that happen, and those who found themselves spending most of their time with War For Cybertron in Escalation mode will be no doubt pleased to hear that it’s back once again. Throw in a pre-order bonus that’ll skin Optimus Prime to look closer to his original animated form, and you have a great incentive for Transformers fans and newbies alike to pre-order and pick up Fall of Cybertron when it rolls out in late August, where it’ll bring epic battles, more Transformers and the fall of an entire planet. How many games do you know that can promise that?
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