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Review

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

  • Game release: August 20, 2012
  • Reviewed: August 21, 2012
  • X360

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron offers some entertaining action, lots of explosions, and few surprises.

by

The Transformers may be more than meets the eye, but Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has an obvious goal: to let you control numerous Autobots and Decepticons while filling the screen with as much fire and brimstone as possible. Developer High Moon strives for metal-on-metal sensory assault, which is both a strength and a weakness. When the game thinks big, your eyes and ears are treated to larger-than-life spectacles; gargantuan robots sprawl across your view, and you annihilate mechanical monstrosities with the touch of a button. But Fall of Cybertron's most exciting moments are those you watch, not those you play. It can be a lot of fun, but the visual thrills don't consistently translate into stimulating gameplay.

There is excitement to unearth, however--it just takes a while for it to come into focus. The first half of the single-player campaign never finds a groove. You spend several levels in control of the kingly Optimus Prime, who sounds more than ever like an elder statesman, morally incorruptible and in complete control of his emotions. As in Transformers: War for Cybertron, you can morph from robot form to vehicular form and back again, though shooting, driving, and shooting-while-driving aren't Prime's only skills. He also fires artillery, ducks under beams, orders air strikes, lifts heavy objects, comforts his subordinates, and pulls levers.

That's normal shooter stuff, of course, but Fall of Cybertron's first half has you spending so much time watching explosions, performing single-button tasks, and occasionally hitting a button to make things die, that the full-fledged action seems like an afterthought. There aren't many extensive shooting sequences here. Instead, you get tossed from one task to the next without any kind of rhythm developing. Battles heat up just in time for you to find another door to open or another scripted event to witness. Aspects of the flat early hours carry over to later hours as well. Every major showdown between main players is interesting to watch but boring to play. That includes the game's final encounter, which you conquer not by overcoming a challenging enemy, but by responding to button prompts. Prompts that involve only one button.

Yet even before you leave Optimus Prime behind for other Transformers, there are momentary pleasures that keep you invested. Some of these moments are power trips: you speed across a bridge, mowing down the nameless bots that dare cross your path. Others build atmosphere: a facility morphs around you as you walk through it, making you wonder what might be causing such an anomaly. All the while, you get a real sense that the planet of Cybertron has reached its expiration date. Environments are in various stages of collapse, and the skies burn with sparking metal and the blistering exhaust of Decepticon dropships.

This level is really fun, but really short.

From here, Fall of Cybertron cycles you through various Transformers, changing up the gameplay--and then changing it up again just when you get the hang of things. One mission encourages stealthiness, having you go invisible and sneak behind sentries for a one-button execution. As Jazz, you play as a sort of bionic commando, grappling from platform to platform, using your mobility to stay out of the sights of the foes that continually hound you. Aside from the levels in which you soar through the skies in vehicular form, careening about as Jazz is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Fall of Cybertron, in part because you must stay light on your feet if you want to stay alive. The controls are smooth and the animations are fluid, so zipping from spot to spot is never a struggle, just a joy.

Land battle sequences play out as a standard third-person shooter and are generally solid, though there is an odd disconnect between the mechanics and the level design. Most Transformers are glass cannons--that is, you might do a lot of damage, but you're also surprisingly vulnerable, considering you're a huge hunk of metal. The game even encourages you to use cover, and indeed, several areas seem ripped right out of a cover shooter. Friends and enemies regularly use cover, but you yourself cannot; you can't even duck. Wading directly into the fray is sure death, and more time than you'd want is spent trying to find a safe spot for your shields to replenish, rather than standing strong.

Larger levels fare better, encouraging you to morph back and forth from bot to vehicle. The best of these have you zipping through the air and dropping death on your foes in aerial form, and then landing on platforms and finishing off the survivors. Sadly, there are only a few such levels; others are more interested in sending you on a power trip than in making you earn your triumphs. In several instances, such as when you stomp about as Grimlock, you lose ranged weapons in favor of melee attacks, wreaking havoc on waves of foes by slashing, swiping, and breathing fire. There's little strategy involved--you just press buttons and view the dramatic display of death that ensues. It's exciting to watch, but you're not working very hard for the victory.

Lay down the law with the big guns.

This constant flipping from one type of gameplay to another is a departure from the monotony that crept into War for Cybertron. At times, the game focuses so much on mixing things up that it loses focus: developer High Moon never deepens or strengthens any single mechanic before it moves to the next. But in the final levels, something miraculous happens: Fall of Cybertron weaves these disparate threads together into an exciting sequence that puts you in control of one bot after another so quickly that all you can do is ride this overcharged roller coaster and relish in its hyperactivity and visual excess. A boss fight featuring the agile Jazz might again be the highlight here, as it is one of the few times in which Fall of Cybertron puts a clever spin on mechanics it previously explored.

It's a shame that the PlayStation 3 version struggles to keep up with that excess. At times, Fall of Cybertron is a technical mess on Sony's console: square pixels sometimes erupt where there should be sparks, loading times occur in the middle of the action, and the game may even lock up and require you to restart the system. The resolution is noticeably lower than on the Xbox 360, and textures are so blurry that you could momentarily wonder if a higher-res texture has yet to pop in. The frame rate isn't perfectly steady on the Xbox 360, but it keeps pace better than the PS3 version, which chugs more frequently.

Amid all of this is a story that's as unfocused as its gameplay, which might be a given considering how often you change perspectives. The character hopping makes it hard to get invested in any one Transformer, each bot more or less living up to the simple characterization we've come to expect. The ongoing struggle centered on Cybertron's diminishing Energon supplies is a simple excuse to trigger Optimus Prime's platitudes and Megatron's humorless megalomania. The memorable developments involve a Decepticon power struggle and an unexpected Autobot ally, the rest of the storytelling mostly relying on dry battlefield commands (Shoot those big guns! Protect that door at all costs!) and cheesy banter. The few attempts to elicit an emotional response come across as laughable, though to be fair, there are enough tongue-in-cheek one-liners to suggest that developer High Moon Studios was in on the joke.

Concentrating as it does on being as much a scripted summer blockbuster as it is a game, Fall of Cybertron does not allow you to invite a buddy along for the ride; unlike in War for Cybertron, the campaign is for one person only, which is a disappointing loss. However, the cooperative Escalation mode is back, and it's an enjoyable take on the Horde mode formula so common in modern shooters. You and three buddies (or strangers) fend off 15 waves of progressively more powerful enemies, each of you in control of a single Transformer. Some maps have you playing as Autobots, and others as Decepticons, but the roles are the same. One bot has a healing beam, another can refill the team's ammo, and so forth. Among the four of you, you should be able to cope with the dangers, with a little ingenuity and battlefield control.

In Escalation, your decision to buy that enormous weapon might come at the expense of more important considerations.

More intriguing is that you earn currency as you shoot up snipers and Insecticons, and then spend it in various ways--purchasing ammo, opening doors to expand the battle arena, buying new guns, and eventually buying upgrades. Pennies don't rain from heaven, however, so you must spend your funds carefully. If your teammates drop money into opening a doorway into a new area and you spend your portion on a scattergun, they might end up cursing your selfish decision, and you might wish you'd had the freedom the extra space would have offered.

Competitive play is more predictable, at least from a structural standpoint. Team Deathmatch and a variation thereof, Capture the Flag, and Conquest are the modes available, and so you shoot the competition, perhaps while capturing control points or defending your flag. The moment-to-moment gameplay is great fun, however, in part thanks to the transformations. In the single-player campaign, there's rarely a strategic need to flip between robot and vehicular forms. On online battlefields, however, being effective means using each form to your advantage. There are four classes available, and you can take to the skies and rain down rockets, use your considerable bulk to soak up bullets on the ground, or zip around for quick, decisive strikes. It's a good mix that favors constant movement over camping, the only sour taste coming from brief and infrequent bouts of lag.

Press X to destroy.

The diversity of battlefield tactics is elevated by the customization tools available to you. As you play, you earn experience, ultimately unlocking different weapons, weapon upgrades, and cosmetic pieces. You can make yourself look like Starscream if you want, but why not concoct a Transformer of your own imagining? The more you play, the more varied the action becomes, and the more unique you look. The elaborate customization and entertaining battles should keep franchise fans interested long enough to adapt a few different classes to their own play styles.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron's campaign is over in seven hours or so, some of its chapters hovering around 40 minutes, and others over in a quick 15. It's not as long as War for Cybertron, but it is more varied and more visually stimulating. Yet in leaving behind its predecessor's problems, it gained some of its own, sacrificing thrilling action in favor of noninteractive spectacle. PlayStation 3 owners don't get the full effect of such spectacle, their version of the game not rendering the fireworks in their proper glory. But owners of both consoles get a fun (if inconsistent) array of offline and online battles that scratch that action-flick itch.

The Good
Flight levels are great fun
Several sequences make you feel remarkably powerful
Roller coaster of a final level
Strong cooperative and competitive play
The Bad
Unfocused campaign is too often more exciting to watch than to play
Final encounter is a joke
Level design at odds with shooting model
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
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Discussion

0 comments
toyo75
toyo75

War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron are videogame gems in the sense that the developers managed to stay true to the source material while at the same time offer the player a fun game playing experience.

The storylines of these 2 games are much better than the recent movies which focused more on the human character's "love life" instead of the transformers themselves.

War & Fall of Cybertron are must-haves for true fans of the series.

broost1
broost1

7/10 is about right. on the whole, underwhelming.

arkryne
arkryne

Wow,you've got to be frickin kidding me Gamespot.I've never played a Transformers game,this was the first one i played and absolutely loved it.A fucking 7 / 10 ? The only thing i agree with is that the final boss fight could be better and not so corny,and the texture popping was bad.Other than that, i have no problems with the game.I'm going over to play WFC  now,i thing i'll like the series.A fair score should be 8.5 or atleast and 8.

strongrthanall7
strongrthanall7

**PS I don't mean Kevin directly in my ranting, it's more an overall ,all encompassing statement lol. Except for the quotations from Kev and his cat.

strongrthanall7
strongrthanall7

Looks like some people like to come onto the board to pms at other people. This baat character hates their own reflection and adds nothing but knit picking to the board. The only constant in all of your failed relationships is you. Remember that. Besides the editor giving the game a "ho-hum" rreview, members seem to enjoy it. As with other boards as well. The sad thing is that a crappy rating can make or break an entire studio. The peeps that made "prototype 2" got the axe from Activision because they didn't hit projected doller amounts. That game was great for what it was. Saying "it could have been better' ,"it wasnt award winning"is like going to see the Rob Zombie version of Halloween and then complaining because it wasn't an Oscar award winning film and it didnt hit the masses like Leonardo Dicap etc. We have to start looking at games for what they are. A game like "Dead Light" ,old shool side scroller that again, we would've punched infants to get our hands on not even ten years ago, gets an "eh could've been better" YOU COULD'VE BEEN BETTER ,YA SH!THEAD NAYSAYER!!! I mean c'mon already with these people. When you can't do you teach or you preach. Like an Olympic judge,"oh that wasn't perfection,you exhaled when you landed" WHAT?! Let's see you do something ,you three eyed chef! Instead of saying'eh my cat didn't like Transformers" Why don't you suggest/tell us how YOU would improve on it without going over the budget you guys usually have zero clue about? "It would be better if the game was 2 disks more and 120 hours + of gameplay"etc..Is that so genius? Well cough up the cash buddy,we are waiting.Classic.pssssh....

strongrthanall7
strongrthanall7

Basically we hold about 4 games up to the light and say" these are the games to worship" and if a new game doesn't mimic it in some way then we give it an "eh". We need to dust off our SEGA Master systems and our 8-bit Nintendos and then go back to our game collections and realize how fortunate we are lmfao.To say "eh the game is fun but..." It's one guy's opinion and for some reason we will sign up and listen to the male equivalent of a "cat lady" to make up alot of minds. I don't even remotely identify with this guy. I'm not his age, I don't watch "murder she wrote" and I get laid! And in the meantime I wanna play some good games! The game is good,if you want it to do your laundry,and wash your car while it covers all the bases and is going to be the end all/be all of all gamesss,it won't.But if you come from any generation that loved Transformers then this would be and is an awesome game. Growing up we would have friggin died to play this game and he gives it an"eh","it's fun to watch" GTFO here bro. Go watch the moss grow and turn your controller in to the front desk. You've peaked.

The_GooBear
The_GooBear

You people who haven't even played this don't know what you are talking about. Talking out of your ass is what you're doing. I'm not even a hardcore fan and this game's given me the most fun I've had out of a fast-paced competitive shooter since before CoD went to crap with MW2. How can you say "it's not 'Transformers' enough" then claim that "Only a Transformers fan would enjoy this"? You see the 7.0 Gamespot gives and put your tails between your legs. Play it in every aspect (SP, MP, Co-Op) and then give an opinion.

MetalRatex
MetalRatex

I played the demo and didn't feel compelled to buy it. Still, one can have fun playing this game.

SqualleoN_xD
SqualleoN_xD

Every fan says "This is an awesome game, u dont know what ur talking about"... wtv, I keep my opinion, its an awesome game because they haven't been creative enough to make new kind of game, they're stuck with this... as I said below, they just picked the transformers story and make a 3rd person shooter like any other. I just look at transformers game and I dont think as a transformers game, I think: "Its a 3rd person shooter where u can transform o:"  They need to do Something Unique, not just mix a 3rd person shooter with transformers.... Where the fuck are those ideas from years ago where the excuse was "theres no technology to do this"? Now theres technology and there arent any creative ideas. 

rasterror
rasterror

this game deserves a better rating.  the story was very good and the game play was great.  As a long time Transformer friends the subtle things they throw in shows that High Moon did cares about the Transformers name.  Little things like the argument about beryllium baloney and cesium salami and Slug's, even though I wish they would've kept his original name at Slag, crash through the door and saying to the insecticon excuse me quote brought back memories of the original movie and let me know that they did their homework.  I really liked the first Cybertron game but so far I'm loving this one.

lordvulcan
lordvulcan

I am what you may call a lifetime transformers fan. However I have played the demo of this game found to be very very boring. {I got more enjoyment trying to kill myself, unsuccessfully as it turned out as there wasn't even a pit I could fall into.} 

 

As the game is quite expensive and that high moon studios last two transformer games were pretty average [to poor] I think I'll rent the game and make my own mind up. (Renting is cheaper than buying afterall.) 

 

Here's hoping the game is consistently fun to play {unlike War for cybertron and dark of the moon which were dire.} or I'll just go back and play the revenge of the fallen and armarda transformer games which I still consider to be the benchmarks for such things. 

forzaroma13
forzaroma13

your review is a joke, this game is amazing and deserves at least a 9, it has great graphics,great gameplay,an amazing story,great music,beautiful characters and a really great single player campaign

AceCometh
AceCometh

I'm a die hard fan of the source materials. This game took most of what WFC did right and then messed up a couple of things that didn't need changing. It's nice being able to switch which hand is holding the gun but it's pointless. I'd rather have the grenades back. Almost halfway through and still glad I bought it. If you're not a huge fan of the source material but like fast paced action shooters, get it when the price drops. That way I have a head start on building up my Bot on multiplayer!

Sigma2die4
Sigma2die4

WOW! a 7...this just goes to show that the really good games are not respected at all. I am starting to believe that reviews are truly bought by big name developers. I am not a Transformers fan at all, but after playing the demo I was hooked. If you like shooters, fast pasted mulitplayer action..then pick this up. It is worth the full price. Ill never come back to gamespot again. 

poopinpat
poopinpat

people bashing on people bashing... readers are just as entitled to their opinions as the reviewer is entitled to theirs and everyone should feel free to express themselves here.

 

get along children.

poopinpat
poopinpat

7 to 8 out of 10 while its $60...wait until steam has it for $15 of less then it will be a perfect 10!  War for Cybertron was beast and i cant wait for this to drop in price.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

I can't believe they got rid of co-op. The Steam page said it had co-op so me and my mate bought it since we enjoyed the first one. Ridiculous to load it up only to find they scrapped it. On top of that, the matchmaking doesn't even work. If my mate and I try to play deathmatch or horde mode, one or both of us always get kicked before the game can start.

 

They had so much potential. Would be better if they kept it more like the first one and changed the settings. That was my only complaint about the first game and it's just as annoying here. The levels are tiny and enclosed. Also, since we're STILL on Cybertron, everything's scaled to the size of the Transformers, so we don't even get a good sense of size.

 

Really feels like a generic third-person shooter in the end, with the option of becoming a ridiculously-hard-to-control vehicle which more often than not just gets you killed.

anigmha
anigmha

If you actually read the reviews, all the negatives for Fall of Cybertron and War for Cybertron were to do with the single-player campaign (and I agree that Mc Shea and VanOrd were spot on). But if you're a multiplayer buff and are on the fence, ignore the average score and give this game a fair chance because it is the multiplayer that you should be caring about in this franchise.

SaurabhAV
SaurabhAV

Gametrailers gave it a 8.4.. I played the demo.. multiplayer is pretty addictive

njoi2
njoi2

Don't take this review to heart guys.  The game rocks and deserves a 8 - 9 score.  The multiplayer that we know and love is awesome and totally addictive.  Support this game.

TrueGB
TrueGB

Just tell me whether or not the multiplayer is the same (or improvement) on the original and the connection issues have been fixed. I loved the multiplayer of the first.

ArisenX
ArisenX

Great review Kevin and it's spot on :) Can't say the same for the website called IGNorance and also can't expect more from games which are published by Activision. Quick cash grabs as always!

93ChevyNut
93ChevyNut

I'm interested to know how Gamespot divides up who reviews each game.  I would think that your reviewers would review the games that they most appreciate.  No offense to Mr. VanOrd, but a lifelong RPG lover, violin player, and symphony composer does not seem like the best choice to review a high-octane shooter.  My guess is that he appreciates depth in games (both in characters and in story) and TF: FOC probably doesn't deliver that, nor does High Moon claim it would.  I say probably because I've yet to play it.

 

Think of it in terms if wine.  I've a had a few wines I like, but my taste for wine is rather undeveloped.  If you handed me a $700 bottle of wine, I would take a drink and say, "Yeah, that's pretty good".  The wine aficionados of the world would crucify me and tell me that I have no idea the quality of wine I just drank.  In the end, the $20 bottle would be of no more valuable to me than the $700 bottle.  I may even give the the $700 bottle a 7.0.  Sorry, couldn't resist. :)

 

That being said, I appreciate Mr. VanOrd's viewpoint, as he might see it differently than someone else (or I) would.  Either way, I'll be picking up this game, if nothing else for the variety of gameplay it offers. 

 

 

 

 

 

SqualleoN_xD
SqualleoN_xD

This deserves the raking it has... and I think gamespot is making the right choice about not giving 10's , 10 is a perfect game, and that doesnt exist yet. And 8.5 for CoD and Battlefield 3 is a lot, they're basicly the same every year, and Im a fan of Battlefield, its just  that we need inovation.

SqualleoN_xD
SqualleoN_xD

 @rasterror I tought the game was good, but it misses lots of things, sure , its awesome in story, but its the "transformers" story, they didnt add anything, they just picked the story and created a usual 3rd person shotter, thats what they did, and it pisses me of that the devolopers cant be creative and do something unique today.

anigmha
anigmha

 @Sigma2die4  Nah, man. Professional reviewers are just inherently bad at multiplayer so when they write a review, they fail to uncover the brilliance of the multiplayer and just rail on the single-player. They're only bad because they have to play many games instead of focusing on refining their skills, figuring out the nuances and understanding the strategies of a select few. It is quite telling when the majority of these professional reviews only have one or two paragraphs on the multiplayer of a predominantly multiplayer game and the insight they provide usually reads like a bullet point list rather than a true analysis: "This game has this mode in multiplayer where you have to do this and that."

rasterror
rasterror

 @Sigma2die4 And don't forget that the first Kayne and Lynch received a 6.0.  I don't know about you but Kayne and Lynch was so bad it was almost unplayable but only scored a point lower.  I know time has passed and it was by a different reviewer but come on.  But then again I bet High Moon didn't pay for the review either.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @poopinpat Reviews are things meant to inform purchasing decisions, otherwise they wouldn't bother.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @poopinpat Reviews are NOT just simple opinion. You realize how they carefully back up what they say with examples, but if you pay close enough attention alot of the reviewers don't actually play the games they review, but they have enough evidence to fool you into thinking so. Let say you play 30 minutes of it, then use a fellow writer's game save to play the last level, bam, you can experience the end just in case somebody calls you on your crap.

poopinpat
poopinpat

i mean this in a non-bashing sense...damnit!! lol

rasterror
rasterror

 @poopinpat Do what I do and get Gamefly.  Not only do I rent new games but with the coupons and discounts I never pay full price..  I bought FoC brand spanking new for $32.99.  No complaints here.

Bowser05
Bowser05

 @anigmha

 I really enjoyed the campaign in War for Cybertron :(

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @Gelugon_baat  @kane638 I'm convinced you have to be a teenager now. Teenagers are the ones who fight to be individuals despite the fact what they are doing is rather comonplace. You're even championing individualism in reviews instead of sincerity. Trust me, they aren't worth sticking up for. I doubt you even agree with them.

JangoF-76
JangoF-76

 @93ChevyNut Even so, I think comparing a Transformers game (even a really good one) to a $700 bottle of wine is a bit of a stretch - I think a 6 pack of bud is probably closer to the mark...

forzaroma13
forzaroma13

the funny thing is that before playing this game i wasn't even a big transformers fan but after playing it (and enjoying every single moment of this amazing and really fun single player campaign) i started watching all the transformers movies and tv series (the same thing happened to me after playing arkham asylum with batman), this game is really fun and really addictive and has amazing replay value

WCAR18
WCAR18

 @Gelugon_baat  

You commenting on everyones comments is a "Joke". Try getting a "life".

 

fullframework
fullframework

 @Gelugon_baat I forgot to mention food. And no, I don't show up to work drunk, because that's irresponsible.

fullframework
fullframework

 @Gelugon_baat Actually, yes, I'm an editor at my college's newspaper.

 

"Career" may be a bit of a stretch here, but I have done some exaggeration (for comic effect, of course) in my line of work. 

fullframework
fullframework

 @Gelugon_baat  @WCAR18 A single comment does not suggest a complete lack of a social life. Many, many pages full of them, however, do. 

 

I think your time would be better spent drawing pictures that aren't creepy in more ways than one.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

  • Xbox 360
  • PlayStation 3
  • PC
This follow-up to 2010's War for Cybertron depicts the final hours of the civil war that led the Autobots and Decepticons to abandon their home planet.
ESRB
Teen
All Platforms
Animated Blood, Violence
Check out even more info at the Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Wiki on Giantbomb.com