Demo Reel: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Imagine my surprise when I finally started paying attention to the actual Transformers games that have been coming out of late. I’ll admit it right now (and I’ll probably end up seeing some hate mail too): I didn’t quite care for the movies. They were giant robots that could turn into cars and squash things, make things go boom, and be generally very flashy with some awkward semblance of a storyline? Maybe? Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon both passed very quietly under my radar.
And then War for Cybertron came out.
High Moon Studios definitely laid the foundation for something good here. They should have made improvements to the environments, and maybe put a little more variety in things. While the potential may have been lost on some of us, their latest offering of Fall of Cybertron was…
I mean, come on. You’re a giant robot making things explode. And this was a demo that showed off some vast improvements from 2010′s War for Cybertron. Featuring two playable characters, the demo gives us a taste of both land-based combat that pits us in that familiar Gears of War, Dead Space third-person view and also firefights in the air. The last time I got excited about air combat was when Star Fox 64 came out. No, seriously. I don’t want to hear it.
Meet Bumblebee. He still doesn’t like to talk. Well okay, he can’t really talk thanks to Decepticons and Megatron, but it’s not like he’s trying to be that non-talkative protagonist. If you think his car form is going to be some cute ass little yellow Volkswagen Beetle, you need to get your head out of the 1980s.
Bumblebee’s demo was definitely meant to be played first. I’m not kidding — it literally does the whole, “Hey, track this light thing so we can check your optics” BS. It was like Vanquish all over again, minus the cussing and handsome dudes smoking cigarettes. No blood either, but High Moon was definitely aiming for the whole “family friendly” side of things.
Once your initial “calibration,” a.k.a. tutorial was over, the demo tosses you unceremoniously into the midst of war. The basic premise is this: Cybertron is under attack, the Autobots are stuck on their Ark headed towards a giant portal, and Megatron is attacking with an army of Decepticons. Optimus plays his hero card, and goes running off to try and salvage the Ark’s engines so the airship can get into the portal, and you as Bumblebee provide backup.
Obviously the story will be more fleshed out once the full game releases. For now, it worked to show off the land-battle portion of the game. Controls felt a little awkward, but then again this is in comparison to other mega blockbusting third-person shooters. Those of us who frequent the likes of Vanquish and Gears will instantly feel at home with the vantage point and the shooting mechanics. However, not all of it is traditional, since you know, humans can’t magically transform into a vehicle. That’d make rush hour traffic a hell of an easier commute, that’s for sure.
However, the controls, while a little odd the first time, did eventually settle in and it felt much better. Don’t expect the left bumper to be your melee button. Clicking the left analog stick sees you taking a swing. Unlike other shooters though, the Transformers do know how to jump on the battlefield. No more taking cover behind something and then legging it up over the barrier — no, you can actually jump whenever the hell you want to.
The only downside about that? No more taking cover behind something. It seemed a mite odd that a viable cover system would be missing, but apparently the work around is the ability to switch which hand you’re shooting from — left or right — for better aim and getting to the enemy if they’re standing behind an obstacle. Clearly, in the future, the art of dual-wielding is completely lost on giant robots. Where’s Max Payne when you really need him?
All complaints about odd controls aside though, I found the demo to be slick and exhilarating. Close to the end of the demo, Bumblebee is given the option to switch into his car form and execute high-speed long-distance Olympic-gold winning jumps. It’s really as exciting as it sounds — you can speed past your enemies using a boost, and there’s plenty of colorful lights and sparks that accompany you as you do it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any big action-packed culmination in Bumblebee’s demo, just a reminder that the game’s out in a few weeks and that holy crap, you better get ready.
Meet Vortex. He’s a Decepticon — those dirty bastards — and he has a friend who likes to speed ahead and make Vortex feel all ashamed and stuff. Clearly, his buddy is forgettable, because I can’t even think of his name right now.
With including Vortex as another demo, we’re now given some more insight into the game: you’ll be playing multiple storylines on either faction once again. Vortex’s demo was primarily to give us a bite at aerial combat, and boy what a frickin’ bite that was. The controls are great flying as both Vortex’s helicopter-and-jet transformation. Blowing things up with giant nuke grenades were awesome. I mean, you get to watch tiny little Autobots far below run around in a right panic and explode.
That aside, it did also bring up something that our inner masochists might enjoy — a nice difficulty. Getting swarmed by a large array of enemies, either on the ground or in the air, is right disastrous. If you don’t take it easy and drop bullets and bombs with a little strategy, you’re more likely to end up staring at a rotor blade flying off and…well, a bunch of scrap metal. Obviously this game wasn’t meant to be some sort of a cakewalk, but it was a pleasant surprise to suddenly feel slightly concerned about Vortex’s personal safety and other some such politically correct words for caution.
With both playable sections of the demo, Fall of Cybertron is shaping up very nicely to be a slick shooter with a couple of odd mechanics here and there. This is not necessarily a bad thing — it certainly does take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, this game promises to be action-packed and explosive with plenty of entertainment jammed in.
Take that, Michael Bay.
Transfomers: Fall of Cybertron releases on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on August 21st in North America and August 24th in Europe.