There’s A Thin Line Between Being A Hero And Being A Memory
The Transformers are one of those properties that has enjoyed a unique, almost incomprehensible staying power with generations of children, not just the ones growing up in the 80s. Whether it was the original first generation, the Beast Wars/Machines antics or the new Transformers: Prime series, the robots in disguise have been selling toys and appearing in ‘toons for nigh on 27 years now. They also finally got a successful game adaptation in 2010 and the new sequel manages to keep the momentum going.
Grimlock Kick Butt
Fall of Cybertron follows from the events of the self-contained continuity that was War for Cybertron. The Autobots defeated Trypticon, but the victory was pyrrhic at best since Cybertron itself is on the verge of shut down. The inhabitants of the planet have been fleeing their desiccated world in ships and only one great ark remains. Optimus Prime and his remaining warriors mean to be on it, while Megatron continues his crusade to rule a dead world and destroy all who oppose him just on principle. Does Megatron’s innate 80s villainy make any sense in this game? Nope. Would a Transformers fan have it any other way? Nope to that too. Although Fall of Cybertron takes place within its own continuity, it borrows heavily from the G1 universe its target audience—men who are children at heart—will be most familiar with. You don’t have to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Transformers to know what’s going on, but it sure helps a lot if you remember what jerk Starscream was in the old cartoons.
Obviously the game looks at its best when played on the PC, but the console versions are no slouch in the looks department either. Unreal Engine III is once again called to action for the graphics, and this time the usual woes of blurry textures snapping into proper resolution a few seconds too late is kept in better check. There is some occasional slowdown, but during the review playthrough only one session ever yielded a drop in frame rate so serious it bordered on a slideshow. The rest of the time performance sat at a comfortable 20+ to 30 frames per second, well within the acceptable range for decent action play. The art direction carries over from the predecessor; it’s a shiny, more elaborate interpretation of classic G1 character designs although some transformations—like Megatron shrinking into a Walther P38—have been ignored, and others—like Soundwave still turning into a boombox—are left hilariously intact but unexplained. It’s a good looking game, but since it takes place on Cybertron, don’t expect any lush jungles here.
The audio department maintains the same quality as the previous game, with Peter Cullen still taking up the bassy mantle of Optimus Prime, so all is still right with the world. Other voice acting veterans include Fred Tatasciore and the almost obligatory Nolan North appearance, but Cullen is clearly the star of the show. The music strikes the “epic orchestra” tone you’d usually expect from war-centric title, although this being the Transformers, there’s a certain nerdy hope that Stan Bush’s iconic song will make a cameo, and it does. Being a shooter, the sound effects take advantage of a surround sound system, but it doesn’t necessarily make your subwoofer work out. Bass is represented here, but not heavily, so there won’t be any shaking of floors or walls in the way that some movies or FPS games are capable of. For the most part Fall of Cybertron’s audio represents the franchise well, although some may say it unfairly “wins” by invoking a lot of familiar quotes from the original G1 animation, particularly the 1986 movie.
Bruticus… Angry. Bruticus… Devastate.
There’s a formula in place now, so no real surprises here. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the same 3rd