Peter Cullen has affected the lives of millions with his voice work for everyone’s favorite Prime in the Transformers series, and his performance in Fall of Cybertron is no exception. High Moon has taken a stance in this game to present it more for fans of the original series instead of dabbling into the version created in the movie trilogy. It’s hard to say if I would have been interested as a child in Transformers if I had watched it, but it’s for certain that I now wish I had gotten to it before Michael Bay did.
The game, as the title implies, takes place at the end of the life cycle for the planet Cybertron. Energon reservoirs have been tapped, and the final conflict between the native factions the Autobots and the Decepticons is over the use of the remaining amounts of Energon. Specifically, the game starts in the hands of Bumblebee as he tries to reach Optimus who is engaged in mortal combat with Megatron on the surface of the Ark embarking to our galaxy. Bumblebee arrives on the battlefield as Megatron is laying the final blow on Optimus, so he jumps in the way to save his beloved Prime. The story then moves “nine Earth days” into the past, and it portrays events from both the Autobots and the Decepticons leading up to the final fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Plenty of characters make cameos throughout the title, including a nice collection of both Dinobots and Insecticons.
The vast amount of characters allowed in this title may be its biggest weakness. It may be the stellar work of Peter Cullen at work once again, but voice actors around him tended to sound incredibly weak and insubstantial. This is very unfortunate, since the voice actor cast also includes the like of Nolan North, Steve Blum, and Keith Szarabajka (Uncharted’s Drake, Mass Effect’s Urdnot Grunt, and Skyrim’s Erandur, respectively). Granted, the voice acting was neither out of place nor awkward, but, especially when Optimus was on screen, plot-driving conversations felt very generic. The saving grace among all of this is the voice acting improves as the game moves along, especially after the plot starts connecting to the Bumblebee interlude at the beginning of the game—right around when Grimlock becomes the playable character.
The gameplay is very clean and, apart from the random and robust hiccups, lag-free. The mechanics feel like a strong, hearty combination of Spider Man: Edge of Time, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Gears of War; though the weight isn’t as distinguished as it is in Gears, the extra movement weight feels right while operating transformers. The game doesn’t have a cover system, but it replaces this with the ability to shoot around corners conveniently engineered into the aiming mechanic. This may sound fancy, but it’s more like having the ability to shoot through walls. As bad as that may sound, it becomes very handy, especially in harder difficulties, to move from cover to cover without having to press any combination of buttons outside of what it takes to shoot a gun and move the character.
Speaking of shooting through walls, Cybertron seems to have quite a collection of invisible walls, particularly at the end of the game when environments become more decrepit and distraught. Conveniently, the enemy AI is never brilliant, so these environmental hindrances aren’t very hindering anyway.
The Fall of Cybertron isn’t without its fully-stocked arsenal, featuring over 25 different weapons ranging from snipers, shotguns, and machine guns to even some Ratchet and Clank-inspired weapons like the Gear Shredder, which shoots spinning blades that bounce off walls and seek enemies. All of the weapons have four upgrades each, and the in-game currency of Energon serves as the means to paying for those upgrades. Scattered through the game are blueprints, which are immediately transferred to the universal Cybertron store Teletraan 1 and the new weapons from the blueprints can be bought and upgraded from there. I say universal, because the same store, which records the same upgrades, is used by both the Autobots and the Decepticons throughout the game. Players assume the roles of key individuals from both factions during the thirteen chapters. Though the system works for the purpose of the player, the plot feels weird using upgrades and purchases from the opposite faction, though the game doesn’t make a point to explain or highlight it.
I promise that the shortcomings I mentioned above don’t take away from the game experience. Avid fans of the Transformers series will fall in love with the experience portrayed in the Fall of Cybertron as the final moments on Cybertron play out in a glorious collection of closing combat sequences and the inevitable fight between Optimus and Megatro. The narrative cleans itself up and intensifies as the climax to the game nears, varying the gameplay experience in many, many ways. Chapters are designed around the transformers that play within them, so the strengths of each are featured in all their glory, especially in regards to Grimlock. His two forms counteract each other incredibly well, going from a defensive sword-and-shield robot form to the tyrannosaurus form that excels at crowd controlling waves of Insecticons.
Apart from the quick, epic feeling I had from the story’s finality, the multiplayer modes proves to hold their own, which consists of the traditional competitive multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch; Conquest, where players control nodes on the map to accumulate points; Capture the Flag; and Head Hunter, where the goal is to collect sparks that drop from enemy corpses. The leveling system works similarly to the system used in the Battlefield series, where players choose between four different character types that each do different things. Infiltrators use a stealth cloak to flank enemies, Destroyers use heavy weapons and shields to fight enemies head-on, Titans use a whirlwind ability to control enemies on the field, and Scientists help keep fellow players alive. The sheer customizability of each transformer is staggering. From face plates to the color of each component, each autobot and decepticon can look distinguished and definitive to any other creation in the game.
The Escalation mode is a formidable mode as well. Though it’s of similar workings to every other Horde-inspired mode, it’s incredibly smooth and lag-free. The same goes for the base multiplayer experience as well. Even when I was streaming Netflix and on a call with some friends on Skype, I only experienced two instances of internet lag, and that was right when I started each new application in my apartment. Online modes felt as smooth as the single player experience did, and these modes accentuate the entire package very well.
The Fall of Cybertron isn’t without its issues, but it’s filled with great moments and enthralling experiences worthy of any Transformer fan and anyone wanting to explore the origins of the Transformers. Believe me, after first seeing the Wikipedia-like experience from the Transformer movies, the Fall of Cybertron brought me around and inspired me to research the true lore to the series. Take it from someone who formerly disregarded Transformers: The Fall of Cybertron brings the best that the universe has to offer, and playing with autobot and decepticon friends feels right, so roll out and grab a copy.
-The Final Word-
Amidst the slight collection of oddities in the Fall of Cybertron, the experience gives newcomers and fans a gripping experience.