Transformers, for many years, has been saddled with mediocre to bad games. There have been more Transformers games than you likely realize, dating all the way back to the Famicom (Japanese NES). In all that time, we've had one really good game (Transformers Armada), one decent game (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), and a whole lot of bad games. With the release of War For Cybertron, Activision and High Moon Studios (Xbox 360, PS3, PC versions) are hoping to redefine how Transformers games are made, played and received by fans and gamers alike. Please be aware, this review will contain mild spoilers. The Game In War for Cybertron, you have the ability to play through two distinctive campaigns. Each campaign, one for the Decepticons and one for the Autobots, comes together to form the entire story of War for Cybertron. While you can choose which campaign to start first, it is highly recommended that you start with the Decepticons, as that is where the story truly begins. In the Decepticon campaign, Megatron starts out on a quest to obtain "Dark Energon", a highly unstable and dangerous form of energy. Megatron hopes to harness the power of Dark Energon to reshape Cybertron and take down the rule of the Autobots. Once obtained, Megatron infuses his minions with the unstable energy, giving them greater strength. He then sends his army forth to attack various portions of Cybertron in the hopes of infecting Cybertrons core. But to do so, he must go through the Autobot leader, Zeta Prime, and the most feared Autobot of all, Omega Supreme. As the Autobots, you follow Optimus (not yet Prime) as he takes temporary command of the Autobot troops. With Iacon being bombarded by heavy Decepticon resistance, the Autobot army lies in ruins. Optimus, knowing the Autobots need something to rally behind, steps up to lead by example. Hoping to get communications back on line, Optimus unknowingly becomes a beacon for hope as tales of his battles spread through the ranks. When he learns that Zeta Prime may in fact be alive, he enacts a plan in the hopes of freeing the fallen leader. What follows is a series of daring escapes that leads Optimus directly to his destiny as the future leader of the Autobots, but a dark revelation that changes forces Optimus to make a grave decision. The story of War for Cybertron is, in a word, fantastic. The Decpticon campaign can be a bit on the predictable side at times, but it's really there to setup the fantastic Autobot half. there are some moments in this story that will simply drop your jaw (if you haven't already spoiled the entire game via YouTube). The story could easily lead into the next cartoon. However, those wanting to use this as a backstory to a new G1, it could certainly fit that billing. Having two other characters accompanying you at all times was a clever move. It allows for fantastic on-line co-op, but also helps to immerse you in the story more. You never feel like you have to be a one man army. When controlled by the AI, you definitely have to take control of the situations more, but the do prove useful. Graphics and Presentation From the moment you boot up the game, you know you're in for a visual treat. WFC is a fantastically detailed game. Everything from the smallest characters to the largest environments are wonderfully detailed. Cybertron is fully realized like never before. As you traverse the environments, you can see battles taking place in the background, but also comes across areas that let you know this is an inhabited world. In some ways, though, the game feels a bit too detailed. At times, you can easily lose enemies in the backgrounds as they share very similar colors, causing you to get shot up without seeing where the enemies are. This is especially prevalent in the heat of larger scale skirmishes. The characters have really been given some great attention. All of the main characters are perfectly unique and easily recognizable the instant you see them. The designs look excellent on screen, with glowing lights radiating when hiding in the shadows. Even the various drones sport some nice variations. My only gripe is that similar class drones between the Autobots and Decepticons can look way too similar in design. So much so, that by the time you are playing through the Autobot campaign, you feel as if you have seen most of the designs. But that's a minor gripe. The game keeps a consistent frame rate throughout even with a few dozen drones on screen. Presentation wise, the game is superb, except for one glaring omission. The game needs, even if only in the aerial stages, a radar. During those levels, you can easily get pummeled and never be able to locate your attackers. It adds an unneeded bit of frustration to the game. The bottom line, though, is the game looks damn good. It's worlds above anything we've had yet. Overall: 9 out of 10 Music and Audio Music is fitting but not remarkable or memorable. If you're familiar with the Transformers movie scores, then you know what to expect here. It works well enough for the game and the situations presented but will be mostly forgotten when you turn the game off. However, stay tuned for the end credits for a nice musical surprise. The sound effects are well done as well. The classic transforming sound is present, but updated and changed a bit. It feels like a natural fit. Gun blasts and rocket fire are appropriately loud and booming. With WFC, High Moon Studios used the strong story they presented, and filled it out with some fantastic dialogue and mostly fantastic voice acting. The back and forth between team members as you are fighting is superb and never feels tiresome or out of place. It's great to hear characters even trash talking about taking out more enemies that you are or vice versa. Peter Cullen is a staple in Transformers and his portrayal of Optimus here is some of his best work in a long long time. Even more so that his movie appearances. However, there is one voice and character who absolutely, 100% steals the show. That is Jamieson Price as Warpath. His back and forth banter with Ironhide is fantastic and unexpected. The only voice that didn't really work for me was Starscream. It felt a bit too forced and never felt as natural a fit as the others did. Kudos to the developers for making sure that the audio presentation was up to snuff. It's easy to overlook how important sound has been to the development of the Transformers lore. They knew the voices were the main draw to the audio show, and kept them in the forefront throughout. By using the dialogue to flesh out the characters, it makes the experience so much more engrossing. Overall 9 out of 10 Gameplay By using the Unreal 3 Engine, High Moon Studios took the trouble of creating a unique engine out of the picture. I always thought that the Unreal engine would be a perfect fit for Transformers and this proves that point perfectly. The characters control pretty well. They feel like they have some weight behind them. In a lot of ways, it feels like Gears of War, without the ability to take cover. There were some odd choices with the way the game plays though. I'm still scratching my head over the fact that your character can run out of ammo. This is especially strange when you realize that there is so much ammo spread throughout each section that it's nearly impossible to run out. At worst, one of your weapons may run out forcing you to switch to another until you can get that ammo drop right behind the enemy you are fighting. Another quibble is melee combat. It feels almost like an afterthought. While it's nice to have a Transformer game that focuses on the gun play, you are given some really cool melee weapons for each character that you never feel like you are using to its fullest potential. Other than those small gripes, I have pretty much no complaints. You can transform at will, be it in mid-jump or while running. And the transforming definitely comes in handy at times when you need and extra speed boost or a more powerful weapon. By default, it's mapped to your left thumb stick button. In the heat of battle you may accidentally find yourself transforming when you don't want to. However, there is a definite benefit to this. With the speedier characters like Breakdown or Bumblebee, you can run and gun in bot mode switch to vehicle mode to out maneuver an enemy and then quick transform back for a fast attack. Once you get that hang of that, the game really becomes a blast to play. Speaking of vehicles, each vehicle mode has its own strengths, much like the character classes. They attempted the difficult task of having both aerial and ground vehicles and unique levels for them. Thankfully they pulled it off quite well as the flying bots such as Starscream and Jetfire control just as well as their vehicle counterparts. Without having to really concentrate on controlling these unique mods, it lets you immerse yourself in the experience. One thing gamers will notice is that WFC avoids some of the pitfalls of an action game of this type. There are no poorly designed or implemented puzzles, the boss fights are very varied (the fight with Soundwave is especially awesome) and the game never attempts to drag out situations simply to lengthen the game experience. It's an action game from start to finish. Even with the minor gripes, WFC is as fun to play as it is to look at. Overall 8.5 out of 10 Bottom Line This is a Transformers game made for Transformers fans. With so many nods to the history and lore of Transformers, there's enough easter eggs to keep any die hard happy. But it's the high quality of the presentation and the gameplay that will keep gamers as well as fans playing for some time. The entire story mode will take between 7 and 9 hours to complete. I've already begun a second play through, which is saying a lot for this type of game. While I was unable to test out the full game multi-player prior to reviewing, you can check out Tony Bacala's multi-player review below. In the end, this is easily the best Transformers game we have ever gotten. It's fun, has a great story and is worth playing again and again. It blows all prior attempts clear out of the water. But there is enough room for improvement and expansion that I really look forward to seeing how they approach a potential follow-up to this. Overall 9 out of 10 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Below submitted by Tony_Bacala: Multiplayer Multiplayer was hyped pretty hard for this game leading up to release. The system is pretty in depth, giving you 4 character classes - Scout, Scientist, Leader, and Soldier. Each one of those have both and Autobot and Decepticon chassis to choose from. Each can be customized with colors. Your weapons, abilities, and power ups are chosen for the "class", and your chassis differs depending on what side you fall on. So if you choose "Leader", you will have the same weapons etc regardless of which side you fall on in any team based match. You get points for doing all types of actions within the matches, which will allow you to unlock better abilities and weapons to further customize your characters. There is a challenge menu which gives you a list of tasks to complete for each class, weapon, and combo of the above, which gives you bonus XP. The system really steers you to not stay with one class or weapon, but to diversify, so you can get much needed XP to upgrade your bots. Team Deathmatch has been the mode I've played the most leading up to release. Generally, I suck at MP, but I forced myself to play (and die) and must say it's been a blast. The teamwork aspect really does work well here. Scientists heal, scouts stay cloaked and wait for you to lead enemies to their area for a snipe, Leaders add muscle to close range battles, and soldiers clean up with their whirlwind melee's. The maps are nice and large, ammo and health are there if you drive around. I've had several situations where the game has stalled during MP (PSN), but let's just chalk that up to some pre-release bugs that will hopefully get ironed out. Overall 8.5 out of 10 Co-Op Online Co-Op was a surprise, in that it was actually fun after completing the game. This allows you to go through the campaign mode with your friends, taking over the role of the AI team members you normally have. It adds a completely different dimension to the levels you may have just played through solo. It gives you an option to do something online, freshen things up a bit, without getting super involved like a MP session can get. And, you can jump in and out, so if your girl gets home or your kids get rowdy, you can bow out without messing up your squad. The AI will pick up where you left off. I found the best way to do this is to check the friends list from within the game, see someone playing CO-Op, and choose "Join Game". This gives you a quick way to jump in. Overall 9 out of 10 Unfortunately there weren't many folks playing the other modes before today, so I wasn't able to check out the other Multiplayer options against fellow fans and gamers. To see our info on the other online game-play modes from testing events earlier in the month and year, check out our War for Cybertron coverage here.