Have you ever just stopped and thought about how much of an achievement it really is to screw up the Transformers? I mean, think about it -- they're badass vehicles like semi-trucks and fighter planes...that turn into even more badass robots complete with guns and other awesome weapons. Yet somehow, from movies to games and everything in between, everyone's favorite robots in disguise have had more than their fair share of crappy starring roles in recent years.
The exception of course has been High Moon Studios and Activision's latest Transformers series of games. They may not reinvent the action genre, but they give the franchise the treatment that fans have been clamoring for while still remaining true to the source material. Even better, Fall of Cybertron fixes a number of issues many had with its predecessors, but no co-op is sure to set some people back.
Story-wise, Fall of Cybertron doesn't exactly shoot for the stars, but it manages to pull off a decent narrative nonetheless. Essentially, everything on the Transformer's home world of Cybertron has gone to crap and the bad guys are winning. In an effort to merely survive, The Autobots (that's Transformer talk for good guy for all of you uninitiated folk) are fleeing the world they once loved, but of course the Decepticons are attempting to ensure that doesn't happen.
It's a simple story really, but perhaps that's what makes it so endearing; by not attempting to tell some convoluted tale of loss, politics and war and just focusing on the action of badass robots, High Moon Studios manages to create a tale that features all of those themes and more. The game frequently switches the character point of view, so even though you're still doing the same thing for most of the game, it rarely feels repetitive at all. A good reason for that is that the game frequently changes up the scenery in big ways. From cloud littered skyscapes to barren wastelands, Fall of Cybertron takes you to a number of interesting, and sometimes remarkable locations.
In fact, variety seems to be one of the main themes in Fall of Cybertron. Addressing player concern from the previous game, the game is filled with different enemy types and ways to take them down. Enemies frequently give contextual clues as to how to take them down meaning that players are going to have to actually pay attention and not just run and gun like other shooters. Perhaps more importantly, the way the campaign is structured, Fall of Cybertron is much better paced and you're bound to appreciate some of the cooler weapons and mechanics since you won't be using them in every single battle.
Echoing that feeling of variety is the game's unique and choice driven upgrade system. One of my biggest pet peeves in games like this is when games feature upgrade systems that give you no choice as to what you want to actually upgrade -- it just basically tells you. This is not a problem in Fall of Cybertron as the game gives you some pretty cool weaponry and armor choices that actually feel worth playing for. It's cool to be able to outfit your transformer with different weapons like flying sawblades or better sniping, and it also gives the game a very distinct replay factor since you'll always wonder how that level would have played if you had made this choice instead of that one.
Though the game features no co-op, it does feature a number of multiplayer modes, including the return of the horde mode-esque escalation mode, but the real star here is the competitive multiplayer which allows you to create your own Transformer. Now I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying that this is every guy who grew up in the 90s dream, and High Moon Studios does a great job in letting a player go wild with their ideas (and often emotions). Admittedly though, once the initial wow factor of creating your own Transformer wears off, you'll realize that the options are a bit lacking, but hopefully DLC will help with this, and at least there are some cool established characters playable in multiplayer that aren't found throughout the rest of the game.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will make you feel like you're back in your childhood bedroom with tons of Transformers toys spread out all over the floor. It's a fun action title that does great service to the license and offers a great amount of fan service. High Moon Studios proves that it's able to do what very few developers can -- create a licensed game that's worth playing.