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September 9, 2012
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
22/8/2012ActivisionActivisionHigh Moon Studios12-12
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Activision's latest, and impressive, Transformers game is Fall of Cybertron.
After many years and a bunch of low-quality titles, Transformers fans finally got a game that (mostly) lived up to their hopes for the franchise when War For Cybertron was released back in 2010. High Moon Studios has been working on the follow-up ever since, and the fruits of their labour is Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Have they improved on the winning formula of the first game, or is the series stagnating already? Read on...

The story in Fall of Cybertron continues on from the first game, though you needn’t have played the first game to understand it. Cybertron, the Transformers home planet, has become an empty husk incapable of producing more life-giving Energon. The civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons is reaching its final stages, and the Autobots are determined to leave Cybertron and start fresh somewhere else. The Decepticons, led by the megalomaniac Megatron, are determined to stop them. This is the story of the fall of Cybertron.
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Characers in Transformers look great.
Like its predecessor, Fall of Cybertron is a third-person action game played from the perspective of a number of different Transformers. Unlike War for Cybertron you can’t choose to play the campaign as either Autobots or Decepticons, but in the course of the campaign you’ll play as both factions. In an epic finale you’ll play as both factions during a single level, with the viewpoint shifting as you progress. There are thirteen chapters all up, and the campaign lasts about seven hours, which is a little shorter than the War of Cybertron (which lasted eight hours).

During the campaign you get to play as some of the biggest Transformers, both by name and size. Optimus Prime, Megatron, Jazz, Cliffjumper, Starscream and Grimlock are just a few of the characters you control. Every Transformer can wield two guns, one standard and one heavy. The available weapons are the same for all Transformers, so the main points of difference between them are their special ability or the vehicle they transform into.

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Getting some close-up action.
Transforming is as easy as pressing the L3 button, and while most Transformers turn into cars there are a couple who can turn into jets. Flying levels provide a nice break from the standard land levels. Special abilities are quite diverse and range from things like Jazz’s lasso-like ability that has him hopping from platform to platform, to Cliffjumper’s cloaking ability that renders him practically invisible, to Grimlock’s ability to turn into a fire-breathing dinoasaur. Levels make excellent use of these skills, adding much-needed variety to the thirteen-level campaign.

Much of the structure from the first game remains, with the move-set practically unchanged. Each Transformer can aim with L1, shoot with R1 and use R3 to melee attack. You don’t have the ability to take cover or even duck, though enemy Transformers hide behind cover at every possible opportunity. One disappointing omission from War for Cybertron is the co-op campaign, which is nowhere to be seen here. There is no option for split-screen play in multiplayer either, making Fall of Cybertron a solo affair, locally at least.

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Now that's one massive blade!
There are a bunch of collectibles to be found in the game; fifty-one audio logs (which give added depth to the story) and fifteen blueprints. Finding a blueprint unlocks that weapon for purchase from the in-game store so it’s worth your while tracking them all down. Finding all of the collectibles is likely to take multiple playthroughs, and I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable the second playthrough is. Unfortunately, the more I played Fall of Cybertron, the more issues became apparent.

Such issues include the sound cutting out completely, brief freezes where the action and sound both stop and on multiple occasions my character fell into the ground - luckily he could still move, so the game didn’t break. Other more significant issues I came across include the game ‘hard’ freezing, which required a complete system restart to fix. At other times cutscenes wouldn’t start, forcing me to reload a previous checkpoint from the pause menu. On a similar note there were times when completing an objective, such as killing all remaining Autobots, didn’t register, so once again I was forced to load the last checkpoint. Some of these issues are forgivable, but to have all of them in the one game is quite disappointing.

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Visuals in the game are quite solid.
The multiplayer options are much the same as the previous game, though there are now four game modes instead of six. There’s Team Deathmatch, Conquest (where you control nodes to accumulate points), Capture the Flag and Head Hunter, which is extremely similar to deathmatch. While these modes don’t offer anything you haven’t seen before they provide some fast-paced multiplayer action. You have a choice of four different character builds; Infiltrator, Destroyer, Titan and Scientist. Titans are stronger but lack speed, while the Infiltrators use speed and stealth as their weapons of choice. It’s worthwhile to experiment with all classes to find the one that suits you best. You unlock new loadouts and perks as you level up, and there’s a reward for taking all four classes to the maximum level (25) if you have the necessary commitment.

Escalation is another multiplayer mode that makes its return. For those unfamiliar with it, Escalation pits you and up to three friends against fifteen waves of enemies that get tougher as you progress. Escalation is separate to the other multiplayer modes and you don’t level up like you do in the other modes. There are four different arenas to conquer, and learning the layout of each is a key to your success. Killing enemies and surviving waves earns you money that can be spent on unlocking weapon upgrades, new weapons, ammo and health packs and new areas within levels. Unlocking new areas and weapon upgrades is expensive, so they’ll require team work to unlock, which makes them more rewarding in the process.

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The world of Cybertron - in 2012 game form.
Fall of Cybertron is a visually solid game. The many different Transformers look great, and watching them transform is always fun. There’s decent variety between levels, at least as much as the setting – a decaying metallic world – allows. One unfortunate side effect of the setting is that many of the environments are dark enough that it can be tricky to spot your enemies. As was the case with War of Cybertron you often have to rely on the crosshairs changing colour to make sure you’re aiming at an enemy. The size of the levels and the amount going on during them (explosions, shrapnel flying, smoke and lots of enemies) is impressive.

Cutscenes are strong for the most part, though the opening scene is of clearly better quality than the rest. The lighting during these scenes is fantastic, and it reflects off the surface of the Transformers bodies in a most believable way. During levels, and many of the cutscenes the textures look quite bland up close. This isn’t a problem really, but it takes some of the gloss of the visuals. Other graphical issues were flagged earlier in the review – falling into the ground and occasional freezes during gameplay. These are annoying, but they’re also infrequent.

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Posing for the screenshot!
The sound is an undeniable strong point of the game, with fitting music, loud and beefy sound effects and excellent voice acting. The banter between characters is a high-point of the game actually, and makes you more interested in the characters. The only time I thought the banter fell a little flat was in the later levels when playing as Megatron – some of the one-liners you hear the Autobots yelling to each other are a bit lame. That’s a small complaint though, and on the whole the dialogue is great.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a decent game, but one that doesn’t build on its predecessor in any meaningful way. Unfortunately it also has a fair share of new issues, the most troubling of which results in a hard freeze of the game that can only be fixed by restarting the system. The co-op campaign has also been dropped, which is disappointing. If you can look past these issues you’ll find a game that puts an emphasis on fun and destruction, and will keep you entertained for the duration of the campaign. The multiplayer modes are fun too, though they’re unlikely to keep you busy long-term. Transformers fans in particular should enjoy this game, though anyone with an interest in third-person shooters should consider checking this out.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSGenerally solid, but a few glitches and many environments are a little too dark. I can’t wait for the series to move to the colourful backdrop of Earth.
SOUNDThe voice-acting gives the characters depth with its quality, and the sound effects are excellent.
GAMEPLAYHigh Moon Studios has done a great job adding variety to the levels based on Transformer abilities. Lots of technical issues affect the game negatively.
VALUEThe campaign runs about seven hours and is enjoyable during multiple playthroughs. Multiplayer is solid but unspectacular so you might not spend a lot of time there.
OVERALLAnother solid Transformers game, but one that doesn’t improve much on its predecessor. High Moon Studios has set the bar high, so here’s hoping for greater improvement next time.

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