Hands-On - TRANSFORMERS: WAR FOR CYBERTRON a "Fan's Game"

Hands-On - TFORMERS: WAR FOR CYBERTRON

From toys to cartoon series to comic books to live-action movies and of course video games, Hasbro’s Robots-in-Disguise, The Transformers have become a pop-culture stalwart and remain insanely popular with their hardcore fanbase.

Despite being critically-panned, last summer’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was the summer’s #1 film, and even know fans and pundits alike are closely following the development of the next film in the series.

The latest attempt to satiate fan’s thirst for giant robots blowing stuff up is Activision’s Transformers: War For Cybertron, a videogame shoot-em-up which attempts to tell a story new to the mythos - what happened on Cybertron that led the Transforming aliens to leave for Earth.

Simple controls that allow you to do spectacular things, some customization without it being too complicated, and the most popular game modes from today's current games make for a capable shooter, but one that hardcore shooting game fans aren't going to flip over.

The three big modes here are two campaigns, playable as the heroic Autobots or the villainous Decepticons, Escalation Mode, basically a mode similar to "horde" from Gears of War 2, and competitive Multiplayer.

The campaigns have 3 characters in at all times, controlled by up to three humans or a combination of human players and computer-controlled bots. It's a straight forward and linear story, but the levels are gigantic; tons of experiences for you to run and gun, transform and drive, and hack, slash, and leap your way through hordes of enemies. It's pretty basic third person shooting, though transforming does offer some shift. There are unique abilities and weapons for each character, offering players of different types classes that suit each of their own playing styles. The abilities allow for some strategy, though again at a basic level; this is really about driving around, running around, and shooting giant robots. The first boss we saw was an absolutely massive machine, as is the case these days in most action games, with strategic points needing to be attacked in succession.

So is this game going to reach shooter fans? Probably not many, and that's unfortunate. Transformers fans will find a game that controls better, with neater transformations, better player models, and more (and more fun) game modes than any previous game. Fans of third person shooters could find themselves surprised, especially by the multiplayer modes, as long as they like the fast pace and large levels of it all.

I look forward to checking out the full game and seeing if the campaign winds up deeper than it seemed from playing the first mission; that and the general ease and slightly generic gameplay (outside of transformation) are gripes that will hold this game back from more critical eyes and "expert" shooter fans. It looks from the first couple hours of hands-on time that these robots are disguised as a capable shooter with some really cool new story beats for longtime fans. It's clearly geared more toward those fans, but others should look twice before passing it by, too.

Transformers: War for Cybertron is due out June 22, 2010 for all major systems. The version previewed was played on Xbox 360 and PS3

 

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