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Transformers: War for Cybertron
Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: High Moon Studios
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1; 2 - 10 (Online)
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
So many games these days are beholden to their licenses to such a degree that the fundamentals are either forgotten or thrown completely out the window. Transformers: War for Cybertron doesn't have that problem. In fact, it would have been fantastic even if it wasn't a Transformers game. Too many developers try to shape the game around the license. War for Cybertron shapes the license around the game, and as a result, it's great.

Moving parts are key in any Transformers game, and War for Cybertron is full of them. The Transformers (as well as the planet they inhabit) animate fantastically; they are mechanical wonders that operate with an organic fluidity. During the game, you'll switch between forms for the sole reason of just watching it happen. It's not all great, though. War for Cybertron suffers from some technical problems. I ran into some clipping issues, one of which forced a restart. The framerate is never locked down, and when things get hairy on the battlefield, it often plummets. Thankfully, it's never bad enough to hinder your progress.

Transformers: War for Cybertron sounds great. The voice acting is delightfully campy, and yes, Peter Cullen reprises the role of Optimus. Autobots sound like fist-pumping robotic war machines, and Decepticons sound like sneering robotic war machines. Some voices are filtered; each filter has a special quality that makes it unique. Soundwave's stands out in particular. He would sound like Vin Diesel, but the randomly-pitched oscillations that mask his voice give him that classic Transformers vibe. Most of the music serves its subject matter well enough, though the "let's do this" nature of the heavy rock wears a bit thin after a while.

The Cybertronian Civil War is in full swing, with the Autobots and Decepticons are fighting for control over their homeworld of Cybertron. The Decepticons are led by the powerful, megalomaniacal, notoriously impatient Megatron, and the Autobots are led by the heroic Zeta Prime. In many ways, this is an origins story. This is the story of Megatron's rise to power, as well as a certain Autobot's rise to destiny. Most of the story revolves around a dangerous resource called Dark Energon (read: McGuffin). Megatron is convinced that if he can harness the power of Dark Energon, he can corrupt the planet's core and assume complete domination over Cybertron.

Transformers: War for Cybertron features two campaigns, both of which can be tackled alone or in three player co-op. The game lays them out in chronological order, and they don't overlap. Each level offers three Autobots or Decepticons to choose from, and each of them has their own unique set of abilities. The Decepticon campaign comes first, though you can choose from the start. I'd recommend going with the Decepticon campaign first, because the Autobot campaign picks up from where it ends.

The campaigns are fun while they last, and they do last for some time. However, there's one major problem with them: they are repetitive to a fault. The only things you'll be doing are shooting enemies dead, navigating linear levels, and hitting switches. It gets the job done, but it will probably leave some gamers wanting.

Multiplayer will not leave you wanting, however. This game has everything you'd want out of a multiplayer suite. It boasts an impressive number of modes, and spans a good variety of maps. The character creation and class customization options are deep and add strategy to every match you play. Most importantly of all, the action is satisfying and consistently rewarding you with new stuff to play with. Aside from the aforementioned competitive modes (and three player co-op), Escalation is the game's token "Wave After Wave" mode. There's a lot to do here, and it will keep you coming back long after you've finished the two campaigns.

As long as you know where to find Energon and Health Packs, you'll make it through the last days of the Cybertronian Civil War. Some encounters are challenging, but again, as long as you know your way around each battlefield, you're good. Navigation is hardly ever an issue; the game rarely wastes a moment in telling you where you need to go and what you need to do. Also, since the Autobots and Decepticons are occasionally indistinguishable from the game world, the developers have graciously added a faux-targeting system. I say "faux" because it's generally there to let you know that you need to shoot something. It's only a full-fledged lock-on mechanic when your weapon type calls for one.

Game Mechanics:
This is where Transformers: War for Cybertron elevates itself above all the other Transformers games. The controls simply feel right, and the mechanics serve the title's identity as both a video game and as a Transformers product.

If you think of all the mechanics that usually make a great third-person shooter, you're likely going to find most of them in War for Cybertron. There is no cover system, but the game isn't punishing to the point where you will need one to survive. The camera is tightly fixed at an over-the-shoulder perspective, and you can aim by pressing the usual shoulder button. Clicking an Analog Stick will transform your Autobot/Decepticon, and from there, you've got a whole new set of functions to play with. It works well with the level design; driving/flying segments often bookend the long shooting sequences.

Abilities come into play quite often in War for Cybertron, whether you're playing in single player or multiplayer. Each Transformer has access to two kinds of abilities: Cooldown abilities and Energon abilities. Cooldown abilities range from a power-boosting hovering stance to a simple dash. These abilities can be used at regular intervals. Energon abilities work differently. As you down enemies, you can collect the Energon that is dropped. This fills a small meter near the top-right of the screen. Once that meter is filled, you can use the ability. These attacks are usually offensive in nature, and they're often quite fun to use.

Transformers: War for Cybertron isn't perfect, but it's easily the best Transformers game I've played. I've got to hand it to High Moon Studios: this is a product that only a labor of love could create. If you're a Transformers fan who likes video games, stop reading this and go buy War for Cybertron.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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