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.
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?”
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
So much for choice.
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.