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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Preview: bigger, better, more Bruticus

on 25 February 2012

Almost two years ago, High Moon Studios released Transformers: War for Cybertron: a game that our own Steven Williamson summarized as “The best game to ever don the Transformers logo.” I don’t disagree with him either; I played the game through to completion twice (medium and hard). However, at a recent preview event for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – the successor to War for Cybertron – Game Director Matt “Tiege” Teiger made it pretty clear to me that High Moon’s new game is poised to outdate Steven’s assessment.

Following the events of War for Cybertron, the Transformers find themselves in a desperate clash as both Autobots and Decepticons are vying for control of what’s left of their home world. Dubbed “the darkest hours” of the war between Autobots and Decepticons, both factions are using everything they’ve got to take control, and I mean everything. Say, for example, if the Autobots had access to some sort of city-sized battle station that can transform into a giant robot capable of leveling not only the Decepticons, but what’s left of Cybertron as well, they would totally use it.

Say hello to Metroplex.

That’s right, you will at some point in the game be able to issue commands to Metroplex while playing as Optimus – leader of the Autobots (as if you didn’t already know that). From what we were shown, the Metroplex sequence looks similar to any other while playing as Optimus, since you’re still running and gunning, just with button prompts that, well, trigger the skyscraper-sized robot to demolish things with artillery strikes. Even though you don’t really get to control Metroplex per se, watching something that big on-screen chew on the opposition is just flat-out enthralling.

Metroplex isn’t the only newcomer in Fall of Cybertron, however, as Grimlock, Bruticus, the Insecticons, and more will be making their first in-game debut. Don’t worry though, your favorites from the first game will still show up -- unless one of your favorites was, for some reason, Zeta Prime. Spoilers: he totally died in the first game, sorry.

Since Optimus plays relatively similar to the way most characters did in the first game (the fluid, anytime you like, transformation from bot to vehicle and back again), I thought I’d bring to light some of the newer mechanics that make their way into the new game. Some characters play totally different from others. This time around levels, abilities, and gameplay mechanics will vary depending on who you’re using and what their personality is like.

Remember Jazz? He’s the funky-cool, suave Autobot that transforms into a speedy sports car. Well, he’s back, but this time he has a new trick up his sleeve—literally. What would make Jazz even cooler? Being able to use his grappling hook to make your way up and around tricky terrain. While you can’t exactly swing around with his grappling hook, you can zip line your way across gaps and multi-level platforms just like, for lack of a better example, Batman would in Arkham Asylum / City. This added an extra layer of style to Jazz, being the only robot able to free-fall for a while just to grapple his way to a ledge just in time. In the sequence shown to us, Jazz was playing a game of sniper cat-and-mouse with about half a dozen spider-like Decepticons that would crawl around forcing the player to grapple to more ideal vantage points.

In an attempt to change up the tried-and-true third-person run-and-gun pace of the Cybertron games, one of the characters I mentioned was added by High Moon to shift gameplay into more of a melee combat experience: Grimlock, a powerful Dinobot who can transform into a friggin’ Tyrannosaurus rex. Like I said, gameplay with Grimlock is a tad different. For one, he doesn’t have a ranged weapon. Grimlock hack-and-slashes his way through opponents you cannot transform into a T-Rex whenever you want, as you collect orbs from fallen enemies to fill some sort of rage meter in order to transform, but once you do, oh boy. Let’s just say that a giant, pissed off, fire-breathing T-Rex does some serious damage, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Another highlight of the demo was the Decepticon Bruticus’ level. Bruticus is the culmination of five “Combaticons,” which on their own are actually five totally different robots on the Decepticon side. As Bruticus, players are simply tasked with wreaking havoc on both Autobots and the environment alike which is again, another refreshing change of pace.

Among all these other changes comes my personal favorite which is, surprisingly enough, found in the new multiplayer component in Fall of Cybertron. High Moon has added a new feature allowing players to create and customize their own Transformer for use online. Down to character class, parts (arms, legs, head, chest, wings, etc…), color, and even how metallic or matte you want your paintjob to be, players can finally create their ideal “robot in disguise” to face off against other players with. The multiplayer, unfortunately, wasn’t ready enough to be shown off yet, so we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out. That build-your-own-bot idea, however? Brilliant.

All in all, things are looking good for High Moon’s next crack at the Transformers license. All the fun stuff I mentioned paired with better visuals, storytelling narrative, and gameplay mechanics makes me very eager to get some hand-on time with the game sooner rather than later. And admittedly, I’m not even as big a fan of Transformers as some other people I know; I am, however, a big fan of really fun games, so color me excited.

Transformers: Fall of Cyberton will be released sometime later this fall on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Activision hosted a preview event in Las Vegas for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and invited PSU to come check it out. We did just that, and had the game demoed for us with High Moon Studios Game Director, Matt Teiger, guiding us throughout the demonstration.