Transform and roll out: War for Cybertron must-buy for fans
Even though our review copy came a little late, my own love of the franchise (and some friendly reader e-mails) meant that yesterday was a good time to temporarily clear the desk of waiting titles and play some Transformers: War for Cybertron. And it was worth it: this is one of the few games that seems to truly understand the property it's based on.
Transforming from robot to vehicle mode is a smooth, satisfying affair, and the game allows you to use either form at any time... although of course some sections will heavily hint at one or the other.
The voice acting, with Peter Cullen once again giving life to Optimus Prime, is hit or miss. Megatron sounds good, Starscream less so, and Soundwave is appropriately electronic. While they speak in overwrought dialog, the characters are taken somewhat seriously, which is a good move. The story takes place before the first cartoon, and watching the first interactions between Starscream and Megatron is a cool moment for fans.
This is a third-person shooter, and the fighting feels thick and powerful. While the characters are to scale with their surroundings on Cybertron, they still act like huge machines waging war with each other. Destroying an enemy with a melee attack feels like an act of violence, and although these are machines, you never lose the sense that you are killing individuals.
The game takes place across both Decepticon and Autobot missions, and you can jump between the two at any time. The campaign can also be played in co-op mode, and the competitive online multiplayer features class-based gameplay across multiple modes for up to ten players. Just in case that's not enough, the Escalation game mode throws wave after wave of enemies at you and can also be played with friends. This is a well-rounded package of single- and multiplayer options and will keep you busy for a good amount of time.
The spirit and feeling of G1 Transformers is here, in full force. Some of the boss battles are cheap, sure, but it almost feels like we had to dig to pick a nit. It may read like we're going from game to game raving about all them, but that's just because we're in the thick of great releases right now. Add this one to the list.
A quick note on the PC version. Yes, it's less expensive, and it does look good with the resolution jacked all the way up. Unfortunately, it's hardlocked to 30 frames per second, there are no dedicated servers for online play, and the online community appears to be much smaller than what you find on the consoles.
If you're fine with the campaign, this is an okay purchase, but if you want to test your mettle against other human players, the console version is the way to go, sadly. There are also too few options for tweaking your graphics; this is a lazy port.
The ideas behind Transformers are deeply silly: two factions in a warrior race of machines-that-can-turn-into-vehicles are waging a civil war on their homeworld. The only way to tackle this type of nonsense is to do it head-on and not wink at the audience. We grew up with these characters and this setting, and this game treats that love with enough respect that the game transcends its toy beginnings.
In many ways a by-the-numbers third-person shooter, the setting, characters, and use of vehicle modes are more than enough to make this feel worth the $60 asking price.