Transformers: War for Cybertron

Transformers fans have had to suffer through some pretty terrible games (and movies) in recent years so this game comes as a breath of fresh air

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Transformers: War for Cybertron
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By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  December 6, 2010

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Key Specs

Age rating: Teen 13+
Price: $76

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There have been a number of Transformers games over the years and despite being a huge fan, this reviewer struggled to find anything to like about them. Coupled with the equally bad movies it’s plain to see that it has been a brutal time for Transformers fans. Thus, when Transformers: War for Cybertron was officially announced, this reviewer couldn’t help but cringe. Thankfully, War for Cybertron is much better than its predecessors and while it’s not quite perfect, it’s definitely worth playing.

The game features campaigns for the evil Decepticons as well as for the heroic Autobots and either campaign can be played right from the start. If you're interested in following the storyline in chronological order, the Decepticon campaign is what you should play first.

The Decepticon campaign kicks off with Megatron fighting to return the Transformers' home world of Cybertron to his version of the planet's golden age. Unfortunately for the opposing Autobots and pretty much every Transformer on Cybertron, Megatron has found out that the unstable but highly powerful dark energon can help him in his quest. For long-time fans this game actually fits into the Transformers' universe and is set before the Transformers come to Earth and make contact with its inhabitants.
War for Cybertron features third person shooter gameplay and many players will find it's quite similar to the awesome Gears of War. You'll spend most of your time running and gunning and while there's plenty of cover strewn across the various environments, annoyingly, you can't actually duck. What's even more frustrating is that it seems everyone else around you can.

Throughout the campaign you're accompanied by two of your fellow Autobots or Decepticons but in reality, they make no difference to how you play. This is simply because the artificial intelligence (AI) powering your comrades is basic at best so you'll ultimately find yourself doing all the heavy lifting. In stark contrast the AI driven foes make for one heck of a challenge. The medium difficulty setting frequently saw us getting overwhelmed and replaying sections repeatedly. (Don't even bother with the hard setting unless you have Blur's reflexes.)

Each Transformer can turn into his alternate mode in a matter of seconds and while the transformation process itself isn't a focus (unfortunately), there are genuine reasons to use your alternate form. You can perform some very cool Transformer-esque moves; charging up to an enemy in Prime's truck mode at full throttle, transforming at the last minute and hacking the said enemy into two will never get old. There are also a few segments where you have to use your alternate mode to drive or fly to an objective and these sections breakup the otherwise fairly constant run and gun gameplay.

One annoying and out of place aspect of Transformers: War for Cybertron is that you actually have to look for ammo, so you can use your projectile and energy weapons. When you run out - and you will run out a lot - you're forced to fall back on a melee weapon. While we understand that collecting ammo is a part of the gameplay experience, this title would have felt more like a Transformers game if you had limited ammo only on the very powerful weapons rather than on everything. Playing as Optimus or Megatron it seemed almost insulting that these two titans had to bother with looking around for ammo. Another issue with the game is that there's no real reason to play as anyone but Optimus or Megatron.

Besides the single-player campaign War for Cybertron has loads in the way of multiplayer options. Of the several different game modes we found ‘Escalation' the most fun and challenging. This mode replicates Gears of War's ‘Horde' mode where you have to survive wave after wave of attacking enemies. If you're connected to Xbox Live you can also play through the campaign in full with a friend using the cooperative mode.
Graphically, War for Cybertron is a mixed bag. Playing the game on our Xbox 360 the game ran quite fluid but up close some of the textures seemed to be of very low resolution and just spoilt the look of the game. This is especially apparent on the chest plates of most of the Transformers.

The environments are diverse in their look and design and succeed in making you feel like you're fighting on the cold, metallic world of Cybertron.

Verdict: War for Cybertron has its fair share of flaws but it takes a number of steps in the right direction. It’s certainly the best Transformers game we’ve played to date.

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