At last I can finally get a taste of the sequel to 2010’s Transformers: War for Cybertron. After falling in love with the previous title, needless to say that expectations are high for High Moon Studio’s latest videogame. The demo is unavailable on Windows, and so I will be previewing the PlayStation 3 version specifically.
The demo opens up with three available options. The player can select either one of two campaigns; The Exodus, the tutorial stage where you play the Autobot Bumblebee; and Death From Above, a relatively non-linear stage as the player assumes the role of Vortex — a new character in High Moon’s Transformers series. There also exists the option of multiplayer. As expected, both campaigns are brief but share a lot of information.
In The Exodus, an injured Bumblebee is guided through his abilities, whether that involves shooting Decepticons attacking the bridge of the Autobot ship: the Ark; or whether it’s when simply dashing. There have been a few modifications to the controls since the last title. Instead of two unique abilities, each character is now limited to one instead. However, the trade-off is that every character may now dash, run, and carry out evasive manoeuvres instead of just the scouts.
Transforming is as smooth as it was in War for Cybertron, and also includes some new abilities to make use of — primarily turbo which results in three methods of travel in vehicle mode. Initially, the vehicle hovers over the ground in a futuristic fashion. When holding the left shoulder button the vehicle will then boost as the shape changes into something more modern than futuristic, simple driving on the ground. Lastly, we have turbo. Turbo allows the player to travel faster for a temporary period of time. As expected from High Moon’s Transformers franchise, the player can fire weapons in vehicle mode too. Thanks to the smooth transition between modes, players can use the vehicle tactically during combat.
The combat itself is fast and fluid. Players can transit between between shooting and melee smoothly with a click of the right analog button. The melee itself feels more polished than War for Cybertron. The player health is also handled differently this time. In Fall of Cybertron, the player has a shield and health gauge. When the shield is depleted the player then starts to receive damage to the health gauge instead. Whilst the shield replenishes over time, when the player stops getting damaged, the health gauge will not recover without the use of Energon which is scattered throughout each stage. How the player carries weapons has also been changed; the player may carry only one primary and one heavy weapon, instead of any two weapons.
As the first stage serves as a tutorial, it is very linear but cinematic. There weren’t many surprises in that stage, but I was surprised by the second campaign stage. We play as Vortex, a Decepticon who transforms into a helicopter (and a jet when boosting). Aerial Transformers modify the vehicle controls a little as turbo is replaced with an evade ability. The goal is to reach a specific bridge in order to sabotage it and divert an Autobot convoy towards an ambush. The first section of this stage is semi-linear as you’re directed forward at all times; however, there are different corridors to choose from.
After breaking through into the next area, destroying any sentries that attempt to annihilate Vortex and his partner Blast Off, the player is rewarded with a large open area. There’s a powerful gun in the middle of the area that takes your shields offline instantly, so the vehicle mode is great to avoid fire while swapping between platforms and picking off Autobots. There are also three levels to this area. An upper platform area, a middle platform area, and the ground itself. It’s quite expansive, but transforming into a jet makes short work of the map.
Newly available to the player is the Teletraan 1 Shop. In this store, the player can trade ‘shards’ for weapons, tech and perks. Weapons can be upgraded a number of ways and also rated by the community. Each perk has its own function, such as the health matrix which restores your health every time you interact with the store. Tech is split into two categories: Assault Tech and Utility Tech. Much like perks, this is a new feature that Fall of Cybertron introduces to the series. Choices of Assault Tech is limited between an attack drone that follows you around or a bomb that destroys the fabric of space and time. Meanwhile, Utility Tech is limited to a defensive shield that only the player can shoot through, and an intercooler to enable your unique ability quicker.
Also scattered through-out the vicinity is the Armory Recreator. These dispense another weapon, Tech, ammo or Energon for the player to use — for a fee. This was the only way to obtain the sniper rifle in the demo. Armory Recreators aren’t the only way to obtain weapons, ammo or Energon though, as they can be found through-out the stage without a fee.
Both stages are brief, but informative and fun. In particular, there’s a lot to do in the second stage. Death From Above contained audio logs, hidden weapons and cool tech worth trying out. I had particular fun with the Dimensional Decimator though it cost a lot of the in-game currency.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is looking good so far, and I’m very excited. As for the multiplayer, I will be previewing that separately. Fall of Cybertron is launching August 21st and it’s certainly getting a day one purchase from me at this rate.