War for Cybertron transforms into so-so game experience

Post by Alex Lamoureux in

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Alex says War for Cybertron gets a passing grade

Normally, video games based on other works tend to be very bad. This flaw comes as a result of trying to follow a film's plot exactly, and because of overstressed developers creating the game on a short schedule. Fortunately, War for Cybertron has avoided these pitfalls, as it has its own storyline based in Transformers canon. The experience is fun, despite various glitches that often detract from the experience.

At the start of the 10-chapter campaign, you may start from chapter 1 or chapter 6. Chapters 1-5 form the distinct Decepticon campaign, and chapters 6-10 are the Autobot campaign. Playing through the campaigns sequentially seems to be easiest, but starting at chapter 6 is a viable option. After finishing the Autobot campaign, the Decepticon campaign is a revealing prequel to the events of the game. A player could alternate between the two campaigns, enabling a more gradual increase in difficulty.

The most impressive thing in campaign mode is the scenery. Huge setpieces and great views of planet Cybertron create an amazing sense of scale. Unfortunately, the rest of the graphics don't match this aspect of the game. The animated Transformers look quite bland for modern graphics, and much of the indoors space is repetitive. Enemy Transformers of the same type are visually identical, and long tunnels and rooms look essentially identical. When speeding through the interior of various structures, I found myself waiting for the next impressive glimpse of the well-rendered outside world.

The plot of the campaign takes place before the Transformers films or animated series. While featuring a variety of characters and motivations, the resulting actions were always a matter of “go here to push a button” or “shoot this many bad guys”. Enemy robots attack with ludicrous simplicity, charging forward in a series of disorganized assaults. When playing as the evil Decepticons, it turns out that their motives are as simple as their tactics. Megatron wants to take over the world, or kill everyone, or both. Rather than feeling any sympathy for blandly voice-acted characters, the player pushes a series of buttons in eager anticipation of the Autobot campaign. The Autobot campaign has the same button- pushing gameplay, repetitive-enemy-shooting gameplay, but it does have better characters. The game's real saving grace, however, is in Escalation mode.

To comment on the multiplayer generally, lag and impolite opponents are major problems on competitive modes. Contests of skill turn into contests of ping, as the player with a slower internet connection is unable to move around steadily. In the cooperative Escalation mode, however, the game truly shines. After completing the campaign, this is easily the part of the game where a player will have the most fun.

Escalation mode is very similar to Call of Duty 5's Nazi Zombies mode. With a small amount of starting weapons, the team of players has to fend off oncoming waves of hostile Transformers. Killing one of these enemies nets a small amount of power, which can be saved up to buy better weapons and armour. A team of friends, or strangers, must band together to deal with enemies that become larger and more dangerous with each passing wave. With a coordinated and helpful team, it should be possible to reach wave 20. At this point, each player has developed the skills to strike down massive robots easily, but these giant foes attack in such numbers, teamwork and defence are essential.

To someone interested in Transformers, the campaign's familiar characters make it worth playing through multiple times. To those who aren't familiar with the series, the campaign's poor voice acting, frequent glitches, and simplistic plot make it harder to play through. After finishing the campaign, Escalation mode offers waves of fun to be played with a group. If you can overlook its flaws, Transformers: War for Cybertron is certainly worth playing.

Rating: 7.5

The Good:

  • The choice of various characters in the game's 2 campaigns
  • Episodic format tying both campaigns together
  • Expansive vistas and large setpieces
  • Online Escalation mode

The Bad:

  • Variable quality of voice acting
  • Repetitive graphics
  • Laggy online multiplayer
  • Extremely shallow Decepticon plot

- post by Alex Lamoureux

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