If a couple of years ago you asked what the best Transformers game ever was, most gamers would be hard pressed to come up with any which were classed as "good", let alone the best.
That all changed with High Moon Studio's 2010 title Transformers: War for Cybertron, and now the sequel, Fall of Cybertron is set to further continue the good work.
Fall of Cybertron is set in the same "pre-earth" universe as War for Cybertron and continues on from where its predecessor left off.
We join the Autobots in their attempt to flee the dying planet in a giant spaceship, only to be attacked by Decepticon forces. The game then "rewinds" to six days prior, where the campaign starts properly, playing out the events leading up to the dramatic escape.
Unlike War for Cybertron, you cannot choose to play Autobot or Decepticon campaigns individually; instead the first half of the campaign is played from the Autobot perspective before switching sides to play from the Decepticon point of view.
Also removed is the ability to choose your transformer character and cooperative play; however this results in a much more scripted and unique level design for each characters specific strengths and abilities.
This is a double edged sword both with some moments of pure Transformers geek awesomeness, like fighting as Optimus Prime alongside the giant living city Autobot Metroplex, swinging Spiderman around as Jazz with a grappling hook or controlling the mighty combined Bruticus.
But it also creates some frustrations where levels, particularly stealth based ones, can feel over drawn out and forced if you aren't a big fan of such gameplay style.
By far the greatest strength of High Moon's Transformers offering is the storyline however, and it is both engaging and full of nods to classic transformers on both sides on the conflict.
The game may look different on the outside from their "traditional" Earth vehicles, but by carefully retaining the faces and key look of each transformer, along with some excellent voice acting, it’s easy to accept them as the same characters and personalities which graced televisions around the world in the 1980's.
Graphically the game is a bit of a mixed bag - while character models are nice, the game does suffer from its own setting. Constant metal on metal environments are not only hard to make look pretty but also hard to make distinct and memorable also.
But it isn't all about the campaign mode - you also get two variations on Multiplayer.
In the first, Escalation, you and your online teammates fill the roles of a team of famous transformers and must work cooperatively to survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies.
As usual with this type of mode, it largely depends on the quality of the group you find - there is always some idiot who goes running off and gets separated from the group and then moans about how no one revived him.
But the meat of the Multiplayer, and this is perhaps why Escalation is not listed under multiplayer as such, is far more interesting.
Here you get to customise your own set of Transformers, from body parts and colour, to weapon loadouts and abilities. Cosmetic body parts are "bought" with either Energon (earned in Multiplayer matches) or DLC expansions depending on the part, while weapon and ability upgrades unlock at specific levels.
This means that you have to actually play and do the time with the specific character class to get the best guns but if you are switching to a class you don't usually play, at least you will be able to make your character look cool.
It’s a great concept, and one can easily just spend ages mucking around with the characters, but it does feel a bit limited that your character build is the same for both Autobot and Decepticon sides, with just colour changes able to be set for each side. If you really want to, you could use the extra build slots you unlock for each class to customise one build for each side.
The multiplayer events are a mixture of the usual suspects, either killing enemies as a team or capturing points or flags, and for the most part work well with the character types and abilties.
However the chief complain that might come from players of the previous title is that the multiplayer has not evolved perhaps as much as it could have.
Maps do sometimes feel somewhat restrictive and small (no doubt to keep the action fast) and as a longtime transformer fan and gamer I constantly live in hope that someone will combine the epicness of Transformers with huge open environments maps (of the likes of Battlefield 3) that would actually make vehicle combat worthwhile, with larger team counts and yes, destructible environments (Perhaps something for next time High Moon please!).
In all, Fall of Cybertron is a great tile to experience at least once and the multiplayer will keep most fans interested for at least a while.
I can't wait to see what High Moon brings us in the next instalment.
Lasting Appeal 7.5