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Hands-on with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
- Updated: July 4, 2012
This sequel to 2010′s War for Cybertron follows directly after the original game. Cybertron is falling (spoilers!) and Optimus Prime needs to lead his Autobots off the planet to somewhere safe. I played three levels of the game, covering three different styles of Transformer.
You start out with Bumblebee in the tutorial. Optimus Prime needs help in his battle with Decepticon ruler Megatron (no surprises there) and Bumblebee leads the charge. His section is very much the familiar corridor shooter.
Playing Bumblebee, you’ll run and slide your way down enclosed routes as if you’re a giant robot wearing Heelys, which is… basically what you are, yes. You’ll need his wheel-boosted dash to jump across the larger chasms in a Cybertron that’s crumbling around you.
Most Transformers can switch between vehicle and robot forms whenever they like but Bumblebee’s bug-like car has no weapons, so is no good in a close battle. He needs his robot form to pick up rocket launchers and other heavy weapons from the loot lockers that can be found on each level.
Blasting Decepticons with big guns and arm-mounted target-locking cannons is incredibly satisfying. There are plenty of crates and chest-high instrument panels for cover combat but if you’d rather play with an aggressive kamikaze style, that option is available too.
In fact, freedom is one of the hallmarks of the game. This became apparent with my second Transformer, Vortex of the Decepticons. Vortex works for everyone’s favourite also-ran, Starscream. In chapter 6 of the game, you’re assigned to … well, I forget what and why. It’s not important, just Starscream being outraged at something and ordering his team around, as he does. Basically you have to find a big cannon and blow it up on some Autobot-related pretext.
When following the HUD indicator to my target, the obvious method was to tromp down the nearest corridor going roughly the right direction. Of course, this corridor was jam-packed with Autobots ready to shoot me in the face with their rocket arms. After a frankly shameful number of unsuccessful attempts I cottoned on that the previous bit of hallway was wide open to the skies.
Vortex’s vehicle form is a combat helicopter. You can fly him in normal mode which is fairly slow and great for looking around. Once you’re in pursuit or being pursued or just feel like whizzing around the map, you can switch to high speed. His propellers fold in, his wings streamline and you can race around the map pursuing bots and avoiding bits of spinning scenery.
Racing back the way I came, I leapt off the edge, transformed into a chopper mid-leap and sped around the back of those goodie-two-shoes bots, laughing all the way. The multiple routes to your target are a lovely bit of world design and the sense of freedom is exhilarating.
The final Transformer on show has always been my favourite; Grimlock, King of the Dinobots! He’s not the goofy idiot of the 80s cartoon.
I spoke to Creative Director Matt Tieger about his character. “When you look at the G1 Grimlock, he really was like The Hulk. ‘Me, Grimlock. Smash!’ all the time. That’s an interesting note but it’s not… you can’t build all the story around that. We did some more research and some of the UK comics had a much more interesting Grimlock. He was smart, he was tactical.
The way we treated Grimlock is as someone who has a really bad stutter. It has nothing to say about how intelligent they are. It’s just hard to communicate sometimes.”
Grimlock in Fall of Cybertron is significantly different from most Autobots. As well as being twice the size of your average bot, he can’t change at will. Instead, you’ll need to build up his rage bar by destroying Decepticons. This and his strangely Earth-like animal form are a legacy from his capture backstory. “He’s a character who gets re-shaped,” continued Tieger. “He had a form before he was a T-Rex. He gets captured, remade by [spoiler redacted] and what [it] did is change the way his brain worked to made him physically more powerful but try to control him. That never works, right?”
Indeed it doesn’t. When I played Grimlock in chapter 12 of the game he was trapped in an arena with a gleeful Decepticon egging him on to fight. In his robot form, Grimlock stands twice the height of a normal Transformer, wielding an energy shield and a massive sword. I stomped around the arena chasing Insecticons and generally bashing them around the place. The larger ones often took 5 or 6 solid blows with my blade before they would roll over and die.
Once my rage meter built up, I could transform into the huge fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex that we know and love. Combat in Grimlock’s T-Rex form is laughably easy even with his puny arms. Towering over the Insecticons, you can stomp all over them or breathe fire and watch them scurrying away in fear. You also have an execution attack which will insta-kill a nearby Transformer by grabbing it in your jaws and snapping it in half with a single bite. It comes with a hefty cool-down, of course. I can’t wait to see what Grimlock is like outside the confines of the arena.
Just from playing a few chapters, it’s clear that Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has a great range of combat types and plenty of freedom in how to approach your goals. This will be one of the best games of 2012.