I don’t know when or why, but I took a wrong turn somewhere on my gaming journey and fell out of line with the First Person Shooter – a genre that I had sacrificed many a sleepness night to, at LAN parties not all that long ago (or so it seems). I just can’t play FPS games any more – my last attempt was Half Life 2, and I dry-retched my way through the entire game as my brain fought back the waves of nausea brought on by motion sickness. As a result, I’ve passed on some of the biggest gaming franchises in recent times such as Call of Duty, Gears of War, and their brethren.
Hence it was with great sadness that I discovered that Transformers: War For Cybertron was an FPS, because Transformers is one of the things that I love (to the point where I fought the bureaucracy to import a Megatron toy that is classified as a restricted firearm). To rub salt into the wound, the Intarwebs reported that WFC was more more than just a competent welding together of the Transformers lore with the war gaming mechanics, it was actually a decent game. So it is with great thanks to the Contagious Network that I’m able to give the game a go in spite of the fact I would never have purchased it for myself for fear of the barf monster.
Since I’ve divulged my shame, I won’t pretend familiarity in talking about the gameplay. All I can say is that using the Sixaxis controller to run-and-gun is more difficult than I thought it’d be. Flying in particular, is a brain-melting exercise in hand-eye co-ordination. This is also the first game I’ve played where you see the character that you’re playing in 3rd person, but they’re off to one side so as not to obscure the action, which leaves me with a “lopsided” feeling after playing, like I’ve been craning my neck to see over somebody’s shoulder the entire time. Surprisingly though, I’m not getting motion sickness from playing, huzzah!
Anyway enough whining – this is the good stuff. War For Cybertron positions itself as a sort-of-prequel to G1 (for the uninitiated, that’s the original Generation 1 cartoon from the 80’s), so in the Decepticon single-player campaign we get to see when Megatron and Starscream first meet, and why there exists the thinly veiled animosity between them. On the Autobot side, we have the story of how Optimus takes on his role as leader of the Autobots after the death of their leader, Zeta Prime.
The voice acting is superb, with the inimitable Peter Cullen again providing his mellifluous tones as Optimus. The dialogue is snappy, obviously written with great care by folks who know and understand the franchise. I LOL’d at this little exchange between the Seekers:
Starscream: These guys are as dumb as Skywarp!
Skywarp: I’ll show you dumb, Starscream!
Starscream: You always do, Skywarp.
While you couldn’t mistake this for G1, being that all of the characters appear in their Cybertronian modes, they still carry a very strong G1 vibe about them. My only criticism is that because both the characters and the environments are metal or metallic, everything tends to blend in and makes things hard to see*, especially when the action gets frenetic.
Speaking of which, the multiplayer action is supposed to be where this game is at. The game is able to create matchups locally or globally, and even in the late evening, there were still around 1600+ people online, so it was pretty easy to find a game to join. The good old Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes are there, plus a plethora of options that I don’t claim to understand, which probably involve some other tactical manoeuvring that I’m not yet brave enough to try (I’ve come last in every match I’ve played so far; pity the poor sods who ended up with me on their team).
Sadly, the PS3 version of the game suffers from bugginess. I’ve fallen through the floor for no reason a few times, and the game occasionally crashes the system (requiring a hard reset). Hopefully, commercial success means that patches will be quickly forthcoming – even as I write the first patch has already been released, taking it to version 1.01.
Seriously, I could go on all day. I haven’t even mentioned character classes, weapons, unlockables, G1 homages, etc. – there’s a LOT here for die-hard fans and newcomers alike, and considering that the launch price at JB is $59, you’d be hard pressed to find better value for money.
* Take a look at the thumbnail pictures of the game here and tell me you wouldn’t use the word “dark”.