Average User Score: 8.3Aug 26, 2012High Moon should be commended for once again finding a way to take a clearly G1 (G1 refers to the original 1980s Transformers cartoon and toy lines) inspired game, and making it contemporary and appealing to Transfans and newcomers from across the gaming spectrum.
Fall of Cybertron is a third person shooter (not a cover-based shooter, as so many reviews which lament its lack of a GoW style cover system keep calling it) with a twist. Like its predecessor, the also excellent War for Cybertron, you can run, shoot, and do everything else you would expect from a high octane shooter... but you can also "transform and roll out" on the fly, changing form at any time to take advantage of the tactical options your character's vehicle mode affords you. This eschews the need for a cover system (which not every third person shooter needs of would benefit from anyway frankly,) by allowing you to simply transform and become mobile, escaping when overwhelmed, or pressing the advantage when you have one.
Perhaps most importantly to Transfans, FoC is a distillation of all that is awesome about the Transformers universe. It is chocked full of G1 references that anyone who watched the cartoon will immediately recognize. Some of them are harder to find than others and actually require some thought and exploration to stumble upon.
Speaking of which, there are dozens upon dozens of audio logs scattered throughout the levels which flesh out the story and history of Cybertron. Some references to how Megatron rose to power and Optimus Prime's past as Orion Pax should get your nostalgic juices flowing, especially if you read the comics (particularly IDW's War Within arcs.) There are also blueprints to be found which unlock the game's many weapons.
In terms of gameplay, what's on offer is fairly rudimentary. You aim, you zoom, you shoot. You move around trying to avoid getting shot. It's made unique and fleshed out via the aforementioned ability to transform, as well as the aptly named Teletraan 1 weapon and character upgrade system. This gives you a persistent campaign challenge to complete in the form of unlocking and upgrading a dozen or so standard and heavy weapons which can then be used by any character. There are also perks which once unlocked give all playable characters bonuses or buffs such as additional health.
The lack of campaign co-op was initially painful, but what we get in exchange is a more well told story, more varied levels focused on individual Transformers characters from both sides of the war, and some mind blowing set pieces that any true Transformers fan will find themselves grinning ear to ear at. (I actually shed a tear at one point, no lie.)
FoC's unique multiplayer action and hoard-like Escalation mode both return this time around, but with the added ability to custom design your own transformers in one of four classes. As you level up you unlock more and more components to tweak your design to your heart's content. It isn't the deepest system, being largely aesthetic and consisting ultimately of only a few common pieces, but it's still a huge improvement over the last game's static character classes.
FoC is an excellent followup to WFC, improving on it in nearly every arena that matters, but its most impressive achievement is in its ability to tell a Transformer-centric story that is both intensely nostalgic and contemporary at the same time. Something I wish Michael Bay had been able to do.