Video games are quite the unpredictable bunch. Dark horses like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will come out of nowhere as surprising Game of the Year contenders, while shocking letdowns such as Assassin's Creed Unity and The Order: 1886 will leave gamers pondering where their promise and potential went upon release.
There are also those underdogs that may be praised by critics and consumers, but still fade into obscurity for unknown reasons. One such title that fits in this category is 2010's excellent Transformers: War for Cybertron – a game that left us reeling due to its depressingly low popularity. We wholeheartedly believe that it's something that nearly everyone will find special in some way, and it helps that it's a perfect entry point for anyone that has even the vaguest of interests in the franchise.
Being a reboot of sorts is why anyone can jump into the narrative. With an extensive lore to explore, War for Cybertron simply goes back to the beginning of the most important historical period in the Transformers universe: the, er, war for Cybertron. Taking place on an entirely metal, mechanical planet, its inhabitants have started to fight over it, with Megatron leading his newly formed Decepticons in a crusade to infuse their home world with Dark Energon, which will ring in an era of chaotic rule. On the other side, the society's ruling council leads the Autobots to quell this immoral rebellion, with soldiers like Optimus (himself not a Prime yet) taking the battle to the frontlines in the name of liberty and the greater good.
The action-packed story that follows is a more mature, dark take on the origins of the Transformers factions and characters that we know and love, but the classic elements of loveable campiness and humour that lie at the franchise's core thankfully remain intact. What's brilliant is that you switch between the Autobots and Decepticons with the single player and get to see the vastly different forms of camaraderie and relationships between the likes of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee and Megatron and Starscream. Being a part of both parties in this conflict just adds a compelling dimension to the adventure, especially since everything that you accomplish on either side's missions has ramifications on the opposite faction – it's almost like fighting against yourself.
It's always been an understandably tough challenge for developers to strike that balance between robot form and vehicular gameplay with Transformers games, and we think that High Moon Studios hit the hammer on the head in this area. In your robotic form, you can perform melee attacks and wield firearms like the Fusion Cannon – which fires slow yet immensely powerful balls of energy – and the rapid-fire Scatter Blaster shotgun. Grenades and diverse sets of abilities that range from cloaking to deploying sentries – different for nearly every character – are also at your disposal. As for the tanks, cars, and jets that you commandeer? They control like a dream, much like the gunplay.
This third-person shooter stands out by allowing you to play as four classes. For example, the Scientist, with someone like Starscream, has a major weakness with health and heavy-hitting weapons. However, the class grants you access to far-range and status-altering weaponry, and the best part is that you can transform into a jet, which is unmatched in helping you to escape and gain tactical positions. Meanwhile, the Soldier class for someone like Warpath turns you into a brute force that's slow and heavy, but makes up for it with a tank form, high health, and a penchant for disastrous weapons. Switching between the two forms of each Transformer is seamless, and both have their pros and cons for any situation. It allows for truly varying playstyles, since you not only choose your class in other modes, but in the campaign with a set of three characters as well, which can all be played in awesome, three-player co-op if you wish.
The shootouts and boss fights speckled throughout the adventure will hold your interest and challenge you well enough, but that especially goes for the latter, which are grand to behold since they usually entail fighting against larger-than-life Transformers. In addition, roaming around the neon-lit world of Cybertron is a captivating tour filled with glorious artistic direction. We marvelled at how the intriguingly designed roads, towers, doors, and other environmental details transform like the robots themselves, and seeing this world in a growing state of ruin has a perplexing beauty to it. While the colour palette may be limited, the visuals are clearly distinct and memorable.
And we haven't even mentioned the multiplayer yet, where you can create your own Transformer and go to town with several modes. We played this for hours upon hours back in the day due to how exhilarating it was to go toe-to-toe against the Autobots or Decepticons, dancing between your two forms as you build up killstreaks and traverse the vertically-designed maps. Then there's Escalation, which is an excellent, four-player, survival mode seemingly inspired by Call of Duty's Nazi Zombies with areas that you purchase access to, weapons you buy off walls, and so forth. You'll be facing more intelligent and diverse enemies as you climb through the rounds, so strategy and teamwork are essential in this tough mode, and we guarantee that you'll be playing it with friends for hours just to see just how far you can get with one more try.
Transformers: War for Cybertron has always been a highly underrated, overlooked game with much more to it than meets the eye. The solid, engaging gunplay works wonders in tandem with the vehicular modes that you'll assume, and the cleverly laid-out campaign, distinctive atmosphere, and, overall, insanely creative yet faithful take on the Transformers license here will have you attempting to scour its multiplayer and co-op modes for more.
Have we encouraged you to join the frontlines of Cybertron with the Autobots and Decepticons, or have you already fulfilled your role in this grand, exciting conflict? Roll out in the comments section below and let us know.
I really wish this was available on PSN. I loved Fall of Cybertron, but have never found a copy of War for Cybertron.
@chiptoon Surely you can get it on eBay?
I'm going to buy both fall and war of cybertron (the goty's) within 2 weeks. I saw them in a store not long ago for only €20 together.
Fall is even better, especially for fanservice.
But Joey might want to have a look at PushSquare's review for Dark Spark, done by Ben.
It's pretty much on par with War and got a 3/10. The critical panning of that game is pretty much the only time I've ever gotten annoyed by the general consensus.
Movie tie-in games aren't going to get better if critics don't recognize the good ones, because then what's the point in putting the effort in?
Loved it! My 2nd favorite Transformers game next to Atari's PS2 gem.
@RaymanFan2 Yes! I think Fall is just as excellent (if not better than) as the first game. I wanted to focus on War here, so that's why I didn't mention it.
I see what you're saying about Rise of the Dark Spark, but I also played the game in its entirety and gave it a 4/10 in a review on my YouTube channel. In retrospect, I'd probably give it a 5/10, but the reason why I gave it this score is because the game was boring and dull. It hardly does anything to differentiate itself from the previous games; it's practically a carbon copy of the gameplay from Fall of Cybertron with a lame, inconsequential story that ties the awful Bay universe into the Cybertron canon. Is the gameplay solid and fine? Sure, but since I thought the levels are unmemorable, writing for the dialogue and story are bad, and that there are no meaningful improvements upon the gameplay, Edge of Reality did nothing worthy of topping or simply meeting what High Moon Studios did with the first two games. It's serviceable, but I find that an insult to the utter passion and love that went into High Moon Studios' work. I don't see that at all in Rise of the Dark Spark. But hey, I'm glad you liked the game! I just couldn't see what made it special to someone like you, so overall, I actually have to agree with Ben's review. I wish I didn't because I wanted to love Rise of the Dark Spark!
@RaymanFan2 Rise of the Dark Spark is no where near on par with the other two titles in the series, and I don't remember the review being especially positive at all.
I love this game but have to admit the sequel is better. Having the choice of character negatively effected the story more in this than the more cinematic story of Fall of Cybertron since we followed only one character.
Hmm, I'd always written these off without giving it much thought, but it seems I may have to investigate after all. Should be pretty cheap in CEX now too!
Galvatron concurs that War for Cybertron is a truly top-tier game and High Moon should be congratulated for the finest combination of story, graphics, lore and gameplay yet seen re the origin of my species.
The PS4 deserves another title from High Moon despite the probability being the same as Primes' chances of defeating me one-on-one.
Really like the first one and almost beat it. But I remeber a friend coming over and was like holy crap those graphics are crap. Then its when I noticed the lag on some of the textures loading during cutscenes and such. I couldnt play it after that. Which is sad becuase love giant robots was having fun playing it...
@get2sammyb I'm in South Africa. I used to get a lot off Ebay UK, you just have to hunt for sellers willing to send to Africa.
But then a lot of my purchases started going missing in the post. And registered delivery is usually a lot more expensive than the game itself. It sucks, but it stopped being worth it.
@Trikeboy I'm one of the few that actually likes both games equally, but if I had to choose, I'd go with Fall of Cybertron as well.
How so? All three characters are in each campaign mission regardless of who you pick, so you're always hearing all of the dialogue the story has to offer. Other than that, you're just picking between different playing styles with the classes, which I thought worked in the first game's favor. But yeah, I'll definitely concede that the missions were more focused in Fall of Cybertron since levels were designed to utilize unique character abilities, so yeah. Both campaign structures have their pros and cons.
@Galvatron Glad we agree! Not sure about Optimus standing no chance against you though! He's one, tough Prime.
@BladeRider Yes, games that use Unreal Engine 3 tend to have this problem. Even with the Gears of War trilogy, textures would sometimes take 4-8 seconds to completely materialize during the loading of a multiplayer match, the start of a new campaign level, etc. But I'm surprised that turned you off for War for Cybertron. Once that nastiness subsides, the graphics look pretty great from what I remember. You just have to bear with those loading textures sometimes, which I think is absolutely fine compared to the awesome experience you get otherwise.
I still own both my copies of War and Fall, love the Cybertron series!
As for Rise of the Dark Spark, I'm waiting until I can play the PS4 version.
@ToddlerNaruto Please spend your money more wisely than Rise of the Dark Spark. It is nothing compared to WfC and FoC.
@Trikeboy I know how terrible the game is, but I must still own & play it.
I plan on waiting until it's $30 New or cheaper during Black Friday 2016 anyways.
@ToddlerNaruto @Trikeboy is right, but I'd still give it a try if you're interested. That's what I did, and while it wasn't that good, it will make you better appreciate the last two Transformers games and realize that we need High Moon Studios back for the next game.
@DrJoeystein Yup, which is why I'm waiting until the PS4 version is dirt cheap before I play it.
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