Most of us loathe Transformer games and with good reason, they nearly all suck. The thought of reviewing a new Transformers title filled me with trepidation because I had an ominous feeling that I was going to be wasting a part of my life … which I could dedicate to a new hardware review .. such as the shiny new Sapphire graphics card sitting on my table. You will probably be as surprised as me to read that this third person shooter is actually pretty good. No, seriously.
Transformers: The War For Cybertron has been created by developer High Moon Studios and while they have taken some liberties with the storyline, it works really well. I am sure some Transformer purists might disagree with me, but then I doubt any of them would be happy with an interactive video game in the first place. Yes Megatron can change into a tank, rather than a gun, but its hardly a big deal, right?
The story focuses on both sides of the war to present an even handed picture and you are immediately placed into the Decepticon camp and then shortly move to the Autobots arena. For the most part the game pits you against foes with sub standard A.I. however unlike many games it didn’t really annoy me as much as it perhaps should. That is because the action is so much fun, its fast paced, attractive to look at and has some great transformation mechanics to spice up the game play.
The title is set years before the original cartoon series and it tells the story of the Decepticon and Autobot civil war on their home planet, Cybertron. Fans of the franchise will be pleased to hear that there are some neat story filling scenes which explain some aspects of the Transformer lore. Optimus Prime’s transitition to the position of ‘Prime’ for instance was enjoyable to watch.
As I mentioned earlier High Moon have spent a lot of time fleshing out a solid background for the game and have, generally managed to balance a little flamboyance without going too far to piss off the core fan base. Obviously the changes to some of the transformer units might annoy people, but I feel they are trying hard to keep the franchise fresh and exciting. Perhaps Soundwave learned to change into a truck before a cassette recorder in his permanent position as Deception Communications Officer. He was unavailable for comment when I tried calling him last night.
The high octane action however is what makes this game stand head and shoulders above the majority of movie tie in’s we are fed up seeing. Transforming for instance is an integral mechanic which really helps combat in specific situations, it isn’t just for show. If you dont master when and why you should be changing back and forward then the game will prove massively difficult later on. The plethora of characters and various abilities makes this a long term combat game which I found both refreshing and highly entertaining.
The developers offer cooperative campaigns which is great fun and there is also competitive multiplayer which is even better. It reminded me in some ways of a hybrid of Unreal Tournament and Team Fortress 2, which is not a bad thing at all.
Playing online and making a good change of unit during a dramatic combat situation really does give high reward, especially if you end up victorious. The balancing is so good that you are confident it can go either way, all the time. Matches are capped to 10 players which I appreciate, because if there were 20-30 player multiplayer battles it would be hard to keep up with the action on screen. Chaotic would be an understatement.
Sadly I found a small user base online of around 1000 players in total with a lot of modes empty. War for Cybertron also uses a peer to peer system which means there are no dedicated servers available to help those on smaller pipes. It is a shame as I think many online gamers are missing a very solid and enjoyable title.
Graphically, it is rather nice. You are only given low, medium and high texture settings with resolution and v-sync support but it looks quite good. Sadly the frame rate is locked to 30fps, however with a decent card such as a GTX 280 and Core i5 processor we could max out the settings at 1920×1200 on our Dell 24 inch screen.
I was impressed with this game and I was fully expecting to play it for the first time and groan with rejectant disappointment. It appears High Moon have managed to create a good Transformers game, which is as surprising to me as I am sure it is to you. Give it a shot, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.