Review of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron for Xbox 360

Alright, the sequel to 2010’s War for Cybertron is here. Now, WFC is what originally swayed me to buy an Xbox, and it quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. To put it simply, it’s an instant classic in my eyes and any game that tries to act as a sequel to it is riding on thin ice. But does Highmoon whip out another Cybertronian smash-hit?… Naw.

Story: Optimus Prime and the autobots are readying their escape from Cybertron on the Ark, the last transport capable of leaving the dying planet. Megatron, however, has other plans for the remaining autobots and their escape route. So much more goes on in the story, but without spoilers, it’s pretty wicked.

Sound: The music is awesome. I literally spent a good five minutes sitting at the menu screen just to hear the awesome theme song. Better yet, this awesome music and similar remixes play in the heat of every intense clash and at the beginnings and ends of every multiplayer match, so my ears were just as invested in the action as my mind was. Voice acting is a bit of a mixed bag. Optimus sounds awesome like always, but other characters don’t fair so well… ask Jazz and his inner-city voice chip. Sound: 9.5/10

Presentation: C’mon Highmoon. You built a mile-long hype train centered around this game’s visuals, and what do we get? Oldschool Unreal Engine graphics, ugly ground textures and lag in multiplayer maps, and pixel popping nonsense? This isn’t Minecraft, developers. We want a mechanically gorgeous display of robot carnage, not something that looks like a classic Gamecube release and has enough bugs to make the insecticons jealous. Alright, rant about the quality of graphics aside, the story is part of the presentation, and boy is it awesome. It can be a little unexplanatory at times and leave some annoying plotholes, but when sh*t hits the fan it hits hard and is unspeakably awesome. Grimlock the robot dinosaur and Metroplex the city-sized Transformer can explain further if you end up buying this game. Presentation: 7/10

Gameplay: This is where Fall of Cybertron falls flat on its face. No pun intended. War for Cybertron featured three player teams for every level, lots of meaningful objectives and two campaigns that made you feel like a unit with your decepticon or autobot squad, all while having serious fun with the amazing gameplay. FoC takes things a step backwards, completely wiping away the three player teams, the multiple campaigns and the meaningful gameplay/objectives. Now, it’s just one big, blundering story with little gameplay and nothing meaningful to do. And that’s a major issue.
Gameplay itself is scarce, as most of the campaign is filled with cutscenes, single-button prompts and an overall sense of autopilot. The game practically drives itself, which is why when you actually are in control of the action things feel so awkward. Throughout the thirteen chapters of the campaign, you play as a multitude of different Transformers. Now, I can see what Highmoon was going for, but in the execution the game just feels like any generic third-person shooter with way to much variety crammed in.
You can never get comfortable with a single mechanic like you could in WFC because just when you’re getting in the groove of it, *whoosh* you’re in the next chapter with a new character you have no idea how to use. Worse yet, you’re all alone so you don’t have time to try and experiment with these new mechanics. Halfway through the game and just tried out the grappling hook for the first time? Well too bad ’cause five hundred insecticons are going to swarm you and bolt your exhaust pipes shut. That’s code for things get pretty brutal as the difficulty ramps and the learning curve skyrockets with each new, forgettable character change. Being all alone with no assistance is made even worse by the fact that almost every Transformer, yourself included, is a glass cannon (thanks to Gamespot.com’s Kevin VanOrd for that amazing wording). You can dish out enough damage to destroy a planet, but if so much as a pin pricks you, it’s over. Now, maybe it isn’t THAT bad, but your life gauge IS small and there’s no proper cover system. And that blows, considering all of your enemies can use cover, while you’re stuck traversing the level like a blundering idiot. In short, the game is a movie and when it chooses to let you play, both the mechanics and level layout fight against you to stop your progression. Gameplay: 4.5/10

Multiplayer: It’s fun, but if you played WFC it’ll lose it’s spark within about five hours, give or take. It’s practically the exact same experience, only with deeper character customization and a completely weakened and useless Infiltrator (scout) class. Escalation is an alright time-passer, but it’s way less hardcore than WFC’s was. Wave 15 used to be hair-tearingly difficult just to get to, and now not just getting there but beating it is a complete joke. On the flip side, Highmoon had to make it easier due to the fact that the online community is filled to the brim with noobs. Multiplayer: 6.5/10

Length: The story is a decent seven to eight hours. Not remarkable, but it does the job. Multiplayer, like I said, is amazing for newcomers and sort of enjoyable for WFC veterans, adding a good few hours onto the clock. The replayability factor from War for Cybertron just isn’t here though, and there’s really no motivation to go back and play through the game again after the first runthrough. Length: 7.5/10

Overall: Fall of Cybertron gets a clean 7 sparks out of 10. It’s not a bad game, far from it. It’s just lacking the impressive gameplay elements that WFC had. With that said, the story itself (not the gameplay associated with it, just the plot) is amazing enough to at least warrent a playthrough, so here’s my final say: If you want the richest and most bad-ass interactive Transformers movie ever, get this game. If you want a worthy follow-up to War for Cybertron, keep dreaming.

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