Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Preview -- More Changes Than Meet the EyeBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Feb 20, 2012
Even though we know how everything will eventually turn out, the battle for Cybertron rages on in Transformers: The Fall of Cybertron. This means that High Moon Studios is revisiting the war as it rages into the final hours, hence the “Fall of Cybertron” in the title. It’s a nice return to form for High Moon who delivered the enjoyable Transformers: War for Cybertron, but also delivered the easily forgettable Transformers: Dark of the Moon game/film adaptation.
The good news is that High Moon listened to all of the feedback: reviews, forums, emails, Tweets, and carrier pigeons and have upgraded Transformers: FoC in nearly every way to deliver an improved gameplay experience. The game takes places right after the events in Transformers: WfC, in an interwoven Autobot and Decepticon storyline (you’ll be playing both factions) that follows the Autbots as they try and build the Ark and escape the planet. The development studio actually split into two teams near the end of development on the original title so they could start working on the sequel.
High Moon game director Matt “Tieg” Tieger says that the team immediately addressed the major complaints about T:WfC, which were: poor AI, repetitive visuals, not enough ammunition, and the core gameplay. To that end they’ve gone in and overhauled each piece of that puzzle, rewriting the AI, designing vastly different levels, sprinkling ammunition everywhere, and improving the gameplay mechanics from camera placement to basic combat.
They showed off six different areas from the game, which included a slew of new Transformers (as well as some returning favorites), the first of which was “the biggest space we could build in the Unreal engine and make it work,” according to Tieger. You’ll need all of that space too, because you’ll be piloting Vortex through this level, and he’s a Decepticon with two vehicle modes: jet and helicopter.
Vortex is also able to turn into a robot, of course, and level designer Travis Wiglesworth smoothly transformed him in mid-air into a bot, crunching down on mid-air platforms, taking out turrets and other bots, and then taking to the sky to hover or blast through the clouds in search of more prey. It’s a nice combination of both aerial combat and ground based, cover-and-fire shoot and scoot.
He also combines with four of the other Decepticon Combaticons to form Bruticus, an 70-foot-tall Transformer made up of Vortex, Onslaught, Brawl, Blast Off, and Swindle. Just in case you’re wondering, yes, you’ll get to pilot Bruticus as well. All of the Transformers have a sprint-dash ability mapped to the left bumper, while their character-specific ability is tied to the right bumper, simplifying the controls and making it easier to get to the core of what makes each Transformers “awesome.”
For example, with Bruticus you can pull the left trigger to deploy helicopter blades into a shield, pull the right trigger for his flamethrower, and melee with B. Pushing the right bumper triggers his shockwave effect, and it’s rewarding to see him tearing through steel and watching smaller bots run away in fear. But, Bruticus isn’t the biggest Transformer in the game. Not by a long shot.
One of the ways High Moon addressed the repetitive visuals was to design completely different areas that played to the strengths and weaknesses of particular Transformers. To decide who to use in the game, High Moon combed through the archives to utilize characters that weren’t showcased like the other Transformers. Case in point is Jazz, who was a fan favorite. He’s in the game, and they took a look at the G1 Jazz and realized that Jazz has a grappling hook, so now there’s a grappling level that features avoiding and returning sniper fire.
They’ve also introduced brand-new Transformers, like the city-sized Metroplex who towers above the world. We’re not sure if he transforms into anything, since transforming into a city would be, well… boring, but he is entirely amazing. Optimus Prime is battling his way through one of the cities on Cybertron as you see Metrolpex high above, and you can actually issue commands to him and direct his fire in creative use of perspective as he steps over the battlefield.
Another fan favorite appearing in the game is Grimlock, and you initially encounter him strung up and being tortured. Through what High Moon calls a “secret tutorial,” you learn how to control him while he’s still tired up. He’s a sword and shield guy, and not a shooter, so it was imperative to teach the players a new control scheme in the game without breaking down into a full-on tutorial that would take you out of the experience.
Once out of his bonds, Grimlock tanks his way through a bunch of Insecticons, and as he does so he builds up Rage in a meter in the lower-right hand of the screen with a T-Rex icon in the middle of it. Once it fills up, you can transform into a romping, stomping, fire-breathing dino-bot. As a huge fan of Mechagodzilla, it is an impressive thing to behold, let alone take control of. Gregg Berger returns to voice Grimlock, although High Moon has struck a balance between the “ME GRIMLOCK” version and the more intelligent version from the UK Transformers comic book.
The game also features an upgrade system through a “Teletran” store system that is accessible throughout Cybertron, letting players buy weapons and gear as well as upgrades via a shard-based class system. Kill more bots, get more shards, buy more stuff. High Moon promises that these buyables and upgrades will be tangible and visual, like being able to purchase a lightning gun or an acid gun.
New to this title is something I’m going to call the Ultimate Transformers Toybox, although High Moon just calls it a character creator. This is an extremely robust system that allows you to build your own Transformer in the game, selecting everything from their faction to their appearance, all the way down to their voice and paint schemes. They’ve even included reflective metallic paints in the scheme, and you can transform your character in the creator to see what they’ll look like in both modes. If I had this when I was 13, I probably wouldn’t have ever left the house.
High Moon was tight-lipped about multiplayer, which will be in the game but they weren’t giving up any details. Although they did say that game won’t have co-op campaign this time around. Oh, and Nolan North appears in the game as the stealthy Cliffjumper, continuing his quest to be in every video game ever released. They still have a lot of time left until the title ships in the Fall of 2012 (not Cybertron), but so far Transformers: Fall of Cybertron looks like a worthy, upgraded sequel to Transformers: War for Cybertron.