Transformers: War for Cybertron has been hyped up as one of the best, if not the best Transformers game. While this may be true, there is nothing in War for Cybertron that really puts it above what you may expect from a typical licensed game. It’s not bad, but it’s hard to deny just how generic it can be.
The first thing that struck me about War for Cybertron was the presentation. It has a very slick look to it, and at times I could swear it was even slightly cel-shaded. All of the Transformers look amazing, and the animations seem very fluid as well. Combine this with top notch voice acting and you have a game with a truly impressive presentation, despite the lack of visual variety in the level design. Sadly, when you actually start playing the game, you will realize that it is not more than meets the eye.
The campaign follows both the Decepticons and the Autobots on Cybertron, their home world, before any of the events of the original cartoon take place on Earth. The game throws you right into the action, and unless you’re already familiar with the series, it will be hard to find yourself caring about anything that is happening. None of that matters when it’s all about giant robots blowing each other up, right? Well, there’s a bit of a problem with that too.
The campaign will allow you start as either the Decepticons or the Autobots, and from there you pick between three different Transformers depending on the mission. Each character represents one of four different classes in the game: leader, scientist, scout, and soldier. No matter which character you chose on either side, how they play will depend solely on their class. This works fine for multiplayer, but it’s a shame that there is a true lack of variety in how each character plays.
The controls are excellent, for the most part, and they lend themselves well to the constant barrage of action going on during each mission. Aiming works well, there is a decent variety of weapons to pick up, and the vehicles feel solid despite the usually closed environment you find yourself in. You transform by clicking in the left stick on the 360 controller, which seems okay at first, but during very hectic combat sequences it can be a bit difficult to do it as smoothly as you might like.
The vehicles themselves are never truly used that often during gameplay, unless you are playing as a character that can turn into a jet. The problem with flying is it’s not exactly flying, it’s more like hovering. I’m not entirely sure if this is due to how claustrophobic the environments are, but air battles are never as intense as you might expect. You find yourself and your opponents hovering around fairly slowly, trying to shoot each other; this turns what could be an excellent part of the game into something rather dull.
The A.I. for both your teammates and the enemies are very dull, and it does not help the repetitive action of the game at all. Co-op definitely helps, as you can bring in two of your friends to play the campaign alongside you, but that seems the make the game incredibly easy, even on the highest difficulty settings.
The best part of co-op, however, is Escalation mode, which pits you and your friends against waves upon waves of enemies to survive for as long as possible (similar to Horde Mode in Gears of War 2). Although playing that mode only helped me realize just how dull the campaign was in comparison.
The main problem with War for Cybertron’s single player campaign is, no matter what side you are playing, you end up facing off against waves and waves of generic drones. The more you play, the less it feels like a Transformers game and more like a bland third person shooter. You would hope for something more to split the two sides of the story apart, gameplay wise, but there is practically nothing aside from the occasional boss fight during the Autobot campaign, all of which are incredibly tedious.
Multiplayer is the real reason to play War for Cybertron, as it truly takes the class based system established in the single player and puts it to good use. Soldiers are the tank characters that can take and deal a lot of damage, Scientists can snipe and repair allies, Scouts rely on speed and stealth, and Leaders help out allies by giving out upgrades. All four classes, if played correctly, can add a lot of strategy to the game.
As with the single player, the multiplayer plays a bit like any other third person shooter with some slight changes that try to make it stand out, but never really work. There is a real lack of variety in the maps, and despite a sizeable amount of game modes available, none of them feel specifically Transformers-based. However, the multiplayer is still a blast to play and really makes this game worth trying out, despite how boring the campaign can be.
Aside from a fun, albeit standard multiplayer, and some interesting ideas, Transformers: War for Cybertron is nothing more than a slightly above average third person shooter. It will not earn the series any new fans, and only die hard Transformers lovers will appreciate the story presented here.
Pros: Impressive presentation; solid controls; multiplayer is pretty fun and lends itself well to class based gameplay
Cons: Bland single player that lacks any variety; terrible A.I.; vehicle battles are less exciting that they should be