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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron REVIEW – Not Much More Than Meets the Eye

by Sean P. Aune | August 29, 2012August 29, 2012 4:00 pm PDT

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I love the Transformers brand, especially anything related to the original Generation 1 storyline. And it is that fact that makes me even sadder at the effort High Moon put into Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.

From uninspired level designs that do not feel natural in any way, to randomly changing which faction (Autobot or Decepticon) you are playing, there is just no rhythm to this game.

After turning in a success with Transformers: War for Cybertron, this game feels like High Moon has taken a giant step backwards and produced a run-of-the-mill licensed title that was made just to take advantage of popularity. This game feels like nothing more than a fan service cash-in, and that’s a shame.

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Who needs a story when you have fan service?

Where War for Cybertron told a fairly cohesive story, Fall of Cybertron just constantly finds ways to get you to play as different characters with some hope that the reason you are doing so makes at least some sense. If it doesn’t, oh well, you still get to be a Dinobot for a few minutes!

As the title implies, this game covers the last days of Cybertron as the Autobots attempt to launch the Ark and find a new home not decimated by the Decepticons. Of course, Energon is in short supply, so getting a massive ship to launch is not going to be an easy task. Meanwhile, Shockwave has discovered a Space Bridge that was built by the Ancients, and on the other side is a primitive planet rich in resources that is ripe for plundering.

There, you now know the entire story of this game. Besides a whole lot of, “Where’s Grimlock?” chatter, that is pretty much the entire plot. The rest of the time is all about making sure you play as many different characters as possible, without any real choice in the matter.

There is one lone moment in the game where you finally get to choose who will play as – which I won’t say who they are for it would be a spoiler – and it only really comes down to if you prefer the Autobots or the Decepticons, it has absolutely no bearing on any other aspect of the level. It doesn’t matter what your alt form is, or what weapon you think will do the best, there is just no opportunity throughout this game for you to make any choices of your own.

The game is basically built around you battling wave after wave of cannon fodder, with nothing ever feeling like a real challenge. The closest thing there is to having to think is, “How do I hit the second door lever? … Oh, this will do it … phew, I’m through, back to killing mindless piles of enemies.”

There is no emotional connection with the characters in this game beyond what you bring in for yourself. In the opening moments, one of the most beloved characters takes a shot to the chest and you don’t see him again until the very end. If you come into this with no prior knowledge of the storyline you will just go, “So?”

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - Soundwave

The game is basically built around you battling wave after wave of cannon fodder, with nothing ever feeling like a real challenge

Until All Are One – Or We Tell You Which One You Are

The Transformers universe is filled with great characters, and a goodly portion of them make appearances in Fall of Cybertron … whether you want them to or not. Cliffjumper, a character that was merely a repaint of Bumblebee in the original toy line, gets an entire level of his own that could have played just as well with using everyone’s favorite yellow friend. But, as soon as his chapter comes to an end, it’s a good thing Jazz is on the scene with his energy grappling hook as the next level is all about that tool.One has to wonder if anyone at High Moon remembered that the Transformers are robots and can change into other things, or add attachments to their bodies. What if I wanted to play Sideswipe for example through out the campaign, are you telling me he would be incapable of attaching a grappling hook to his arm? No, I have to use Jazz … and then I have to use Cliffjumper … and then I have to give Starscream some love … but don’t get to used to playing him because now you’re going to spend five seconds each as the various members of the Combaticons.
Perhaps that is where the disconnect in this game came from; playing a Transformers game isn’t about essentially slapping on a different skin to your character, but its about nearly 30 years of love fans have built with the franchise. I would have been fine with a lot of the things that happened in this title if I had just been given at least some say in who I was doing it as instead of feeling like I was being force fed a chance to play every single character.What if Cliffjumper was my favorite character, shouldn’t I be allowed more than one chapter with him? What if really dig Jazz, wouldn’t it have been nice to use him through out the entire campaign? No, this was all about stuffing as many characters as possible into one very tiny box.

So much for choice.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - Grimlok
Throughout the promotion of this game, High Moon went on at great lengths about how they had found a way to include the Dinobots in the story that made sense, and you would indeed get to play as Grimlok. Who wouldn’t want to be a giant, fire-breathing robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex?Too bad he can’t transform at will.Yes, you read that correctly, a Transformer that can not transform at will. He has to build up enough “rage” by killing waves of completely useless Insecticons (how did those throw away characters even make it into this game?) before he can transform. And once he does change into his dinosaur form, well, you’d better enjoy it because you have a limited time using it.And that really sums up this game for me. While War for Cybertron wasn’t perfect, it was at least fun. This game felt very much of the “on rails” variety, and in a game that is all about things that aren’t what they first appear to be, it all felt very unnatural and not true to the property.From not being able to choose characters to being limited in when you could transform, this game was suffocating, and, to be honest, felt like drudgery. At no time did I feel like I was having fun, and isn’t that what games are supposed to be about?Disappointment seemed to abound for me at every turn through out this endless killing spree without a soul. From not having any choices in how things transpired to a “plot” that merely served to cram in as much fan service as possible, this game missed the target on just about every account.Yes, it was pretty to look at, but after an hour or two in, even that gets boring. Give me a story with some meat and an emotional arc and I’m sold, not just a brainless shoot ’em up.

This is a title that would have felt right at home during the hey day of poorly made licensed games from years past. When you have experiences such as Batman: Arkham City that demonstrate how an effort can be much more than just a licensed title, a game such as Transformers: Fall of Cybertron almost feels unforgivable.


I purchased a retail copy of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron for the Xbox 360 with personal funds. I played the game’s full campaign on normal difficulty and completed it before starting this review.

Editor’s note: Why’d we give this review to Sean? He loves Transformers. Seriously.

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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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