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Beta’d: Transformers – The Fall of Cybertron

Transformers may be one of the greatest franchises of all time, but it has a knack for coming up short as far as movies and games are concerned. For some reason the Robots in Disguise always manage to fare better in their animated outings than they do on celluloid and in digital bits we can control. Fans of the Transformers were finally given cause to celebrate in High Moon’s Transformers – War for Cybertron. The third person action game seemed to finally understand what was great about the giant robots: not just looking cool, but character and story. Building off of the characters that had been developed, honed, and refined for over 30 years, High Moon finally struck a balance between fun gameplay and great story. The results of their efforts were a hit game and a greenlight on a sequel. But first, two more movie adaptations would come out, reminding us how bad a Transformers game could be.

The latest installment of the Cybertron series of games is set to release on August 21st and we got the chance to sit down with a couple of levels of the game.

Story: Picking up where War for Cybertron left off, the Autobots are in retreat. The Decepticons are winning the war. The Autobots have begun plans for leaving the Cybertron behind and trying to start anew elsewhere. The final days of the war see the Autobots calling in every heavy hitter they can find, from the Dinobots to Metroplex (as seen in the above trailer.) The Autobots aren’t the only ones calling in backup, as you’ll be able to play from the Decepticon perspective as well. The demo we played opens with the Arc making a run for a portal that Generation 1 fans will easily recognize. Megatron is hot on our heels and begins an assault on the ship. You take control of Bumblebee and defend the bridge.

Graphics: Building off of the graphics that made War for Cybertron so stellar, the new game has refined the character models to allow for even more granularity and detail. The game is really pushing the limits on what we’ve seen the Unreal Engine do, giving it just as fine a look as the latest Gears of War. A little bit of the sheen is lost when the game is throwing a wall of baddies and support characters on the screen, but, in those instances, so much is going on, you hardly notice the dumbed-down appearance of the enemy drones and trooper bots. The game moves seamlessly between cutscenes and gameplay, so much so it took me a moment to realize I was not controlling my character when I thought I was. The scale of some of the bots in the game make for some truly jaw-dropping scenes, and we look forward to the epic battles the trailers have promised.

Gameplay: The control scheme is essentially the same as War for Cybertron. While in robot form, you have a standard assault weapon and overshields, and your health is replenished through random energon dumps throughout the levels. The controls when in vehicle mode are pretty loose and take a little getting used to, but the amount of time you’ll actually need to be in that mode almost makes fine tuning your approach pointless. In the multiplayer, however, switching in and out of vehicle mode can make all the difference in the world for sneaking in and out of skirmishes. While a little clunkier than we’re used to for a third person shooter, the controls are adequate.

Impressions: If you’re a fan of Transformers in any incarnation, Fall of Cybertron is going to be a must own. Playing through the last days of Cybertron and really connecting the story of the game to the beginning of the show we all hold dear is really the most worthwhile aspect of this game. In the demo alone we were having some holy-crap-we’re-on-the-Arc moments, just imagine how great it’s going to be when we get to take Grimlock out to terrorize some poor Decepticon who didn’t know better than to mess with a Tyrannosaurus.

Transformers – Fall of Cybertron is available on August 21st and can be pre-ordered now. The demo is available on X-Box Live and PSN.

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