Me, Grimlock, Like High Def
Any child raised in 1984 or later knows and likely loves the Transformers. Originating in Japan and reworked for American audiences by Hasbro, the toy robots in disguise have spun off into media ranging from television to movies, to comics and games. Like most licensed titles, the Transformers video games ranged in quality from mediocre to outright terrible — that is, until the 2010 release of War for Cybertron. High Moon Studios' prequel to the series was critically and commercially successful, taking a solid squad-based shooter game and infusing it with clever characterization and excellent voice acting. Unfortunately, the same success was not repeated by High Moon's adaptation of the 2011 film Transfomers: Dark of the Moon, which felt as rushed and shallow as a typical licensed title. But now that the San Diego-based studio has the chance for a proper War for Cybertron follow-up in the upcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, it looks like the video game series will be back on track.
Set after War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron deals with the final stretch of the Great War between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. As seen in almost every incarnation of the Transformers, this war was so severe that it forced both sides to free their destroyed planet of Cybertron, inevitably taking the battle to our Earth. In addition to exploring this chapter of the series' mythos, Fall of Cybertron will reintroduce several new characters, including Shockwave, Cliffjumper, Onslaught, Jazz, Swindle, and best of all, the Dinobots.
Of course, all of this will be irrelevant if the game itself fails to deliver. Thankfully, High Moon Studios is working hard to make sure their sequel surpasses the original. As game director Matt Tieger puts it, the original War for Cybertron was designed to prove that a decent Transformers game was possible, but the new game will prove that a Transformers game can be genuinely great. This means improving several of the little problems gamers encountered in War for Cybertron. The repetitive environments of the original will be expanded in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, incorporating several different metal textures for the robotic world. The locations will also have more space to roam, and levels will be paced better to offer breathing space between firefight sequences. Best of all, the largely uniform weapons will be overhauled, so that individual characters have unique armaments and upgrades.
In addition to upgrading the infrastructure of the game design, High Moon Studios promises that Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will have many impressive, surprising moments. Many of those moments won't be revealed until the game itself hits stores, but High Moon revealed two sequences that are sure to drive fans wild with anticipation. The first is the playable debut of Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots. Unlike other characters, the lovable brute lacks any ranged weapons. Instead, he has a sword, a shield, and a rage meter that builds up with each kill to let him transform into his devastating T-Rex mode. The other anticipated new level involves controlling the more gigantic robots, be it Metroplex for the Autobots or Bruticus on the Decepticon side. Composed of multiple combined robots, these characters are far bigger and stronger than other robots, and their levels involve taking on even larger armies than the regular characters could face.
While it's not a revolutionary departure from War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron looks like it'll be a more than suitable follow-up. The new characters are all welcome additions, and the improvements to the less stellar aspects of the original should help elevate this game. Fans of third-person shooters should take note, even if they don't care about the Transformers. Also, fans of the Transformers should definitely look into this game, though many Transformers fans with an Internet connection have already learned about this game and complained about it because it's not the 1984 characters they grew up with, as they've done for each subsequent Transformers project. Fortunately for Hasbro, Activision, and Full Moon, those types of fans have also pre-ordered the game, so they'll be able to complain about the final product.
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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