Published Aug 21, 2010As an '80s baby whose worst-ever Christmas was when I got Go-Bots instead of Transformers (I know, right?) I skipped the Michael Bay blockbusters altogether so as to not sully my childhood memories. Too much crass CGI, not enough epic robot geekiness that made the animated Saturday morning staple such an enduring classic. Needless to say, I came nowhere near the films' game adaptations, either.
But there's finally a new Transformers license that is more than meets the eye. Inspired by the iconic cartoon, as well as its comic book and anime spin-offs, Transformers: War for Cybertron is a prequel that lets you fight on both Decepticon and Autobot sides.
Consider this The Hobbit of the Transformers saga as the 12 chapters follow the civil war started by Megatron's splinter group, the rise of Optimus Prime as leader and the eventual forced evacuation from Cybertron that led the warring robotic race to Earth.
The alien planet of Cybertron is an interesting place to stomp, drive and fly about, though these Unreal Engines games do have a certain sameness to them ― but the robots themselves, all battered and worse for the wear, are wonderfully realized. As well, every level includes a three-robot team, and can be played co-op online. There are also the usual multiplayer variations, though you can build your own Transformer character and the Horde-like "Escalation" mode is a stand-out.
While not a radical license reclamation project on the level of Batman: Arkham Asylum, it nonetheless makes great use of its cinematically squandered license by targeting the franchise's hardcore fanboys rather than the mainstream movie crowd.
This fan service aspect helps one overlook the fact that the game is a relatively straightforward third-person shooter, but the mere presence of Starscream, Soundwave and other fan favourites in a decent game is enough reason to roll out. (High Moon Studios/Activision)