June 11, 2012

E3 2012 – Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Transformers Fall of Cybertron E3 2012
Every E3 brings at least one guilty pleasure title for me. One title I enthusiastically mention while others skeptically raise an eyebrow in my direction. This year that title was definitely High Moon Studios’ Fall of Cybertron.

Having grown up with the original Transformers series, and extended my affection later with the Beast Wars franchise, I’m incapable of resisting a title that litters its stages with characters from my childhood.

As with 2010’s War for Cybertron, there are still less than ideal design elements – I have no reason to suspect that I won’t once again find myself at odds between loving large-scale battlefields and loathing tedious grind sessions. But I’m already convinced I’ll accept less than ideal mechanics in exchange for the content. I don’t know if this makes me a bad person, just that it certainly labels me a Transformers fan – one that appreciates High Moon’s efforts to portray these characters the way they continue to within the Cybertron series.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron E3 2012
Sitting down with Activison to see more of the game during E3, my agenda largely revolved around the publisher showing me the dinobots, which worked out well given their eagerness to show off Grimlock.

Grimlock was squaring off against a group of Insecticons, apparently plagued by an inability to transform into dinosaur mode. But as a rage gauge filled, Grimlock was finally able to transform for a short period of time, during which he could spew flames, when he wasn’t crunching on enemies and snapping them in half with his massive jaws.

Given my dinobot-centric concerns, I brought up the fact that there are five dinobots in the series, and our most recent pr prior to E3 had mentioned only four, at which point I was assured that “their all in there.”

High Moon also offered a look at Starscream, who in typical fashion was doing his best to achieve his own backstabbing agenda, as well as Jazz from the Autobot side, who had stumbled upon one of the last reserves of energon on the planet.

The completely over-the-top bit on display was saved for Optimus Prime, who had the ability to direct attacks from Metroplex – the city sized transformer that shook the ground while walking alongside the player.

So what is it exactly that makes the title important to me? Fair question.

Fall of Cybertron continues to raise the intensity of the narrative, bringing to life characters for battles I spent hours staging with the toys as a child – watching those battles play out in cinematic sequences and then finding myself able to direct part of the action makes me infinitely warm and nostalgic. It’s also important that, for a game about giant robots locked in battle, the chaos created convinces me of authenticity. It’s absolutely ridiculous for me to suggest that this is what it would look like if giant robots started fighting, but when I’m playing rather than thinking, the battlefield grabs hold and sucks me in nearly every time as these familiar characters fight over a planet that is being decimated by that battle.

I wouldn’t want to speak to the appeal for gamers not invested in the Transformers franchise already, particularly those not in my own age bracket. There’s a competent game beneath the nostalgia, but nothing that could rival the triple A efforts of other publishers toward the end of this year and into the next. I can only tell you that, as a fan, I continue to appreciate the effort to create a title aside from tie-ins to the films and newer cartoons, and that stirring childhood memories remains my primary reason for checking out the game when it releases this August 28th for the 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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