Transformers: Fall of Cybertron brought back fond childhood memories from the very outset while, like its predecessor War for Cybertron, being new enough to feel fresh. Feeling very much like a prequel to the G1 Transformers story, there is, again, plenty to enjoy here.
I admit I’m a bit of a fan of prequels. I like seeing how stories start, and I love it when I recognise some story element that will become important later on. So when Transformers: Fall of Cybertron opened with the Ark leaving Cybertron, it immediately felt familiar. We join the battle between Autobots and Decepticons as the Ark is leaving their home planet and, after some pretty significant events onboard (I won’t spoil it for you) we then jump back to explore how we got to that point in the first place.
The designs of the various Transformers seem to have been given some serious thought: you won’t see Bumblebee as a VW Beetle, or Optimus as an articulated truck… this is before they’ve even seen Earth, remember. The Cybertron forms still fit with the Transformers’ characters, though – Bumblebee is a fairly small vehicle, while Optimus is a rather hefty tank.
Last time out, when I reviewed War for Cybertron, I commented that I always prefer the bad guys in a franchise and had been very pleased that that game started with you playing the Decepticon side. This time, we play a large chunk of the game as the Autobots before we get the chance to play the “baddies”. Don’t worry, though, because after putting in a whole load of work for the Autobots we then get to undo some of it for the Decepticons. It’s cleverly done, because it felt very much like I was progressing a story rather than actually undoing my own work. Maybe it’s because we know that we’re building up to that battle on the Ark, I don’t know.
I was really pleased that, while playing Fall of Cybertron, my son took a big interest in what was going on. He’s 3, so doesn’t play on the Xbox 360 much, but he was so captivated by what he saw on screen he kept asking for a go. I’ll admit I didn’t think he would do too well, but he picked up how to play the game pretty quickly. OK, some of it was random button pressing, but it was kind of cool to see him getting the on-screen character to transform from robot to helicopter, fighting his way through the levels and even, at one point, getting past a section that I had been struggling with. So I’ve taken the decision to introduce him to a bit more of the Transformers universe. We’ve started watching Beast Machines, but the part I’m looking forward to is when the original Transformers series arrives from LoveFilm!
When I was little, my favourite Transformers toy was Metroplex – a massive robot that, rather than turning into a vehicle, transformed into either a city or battle station. It was a really pleasing moment when he made his appearance in Fall of Cybertron. I had actually forgotten all about him, but when he turned up it was a strange but happy moment of remembrance – I thought that toy was just amazing.
A major component of the latter sections of the game is the Dinobots. Grimlock (the T-Rex) is mentioned very early on in the game, but Fall of Cybertron takes a different approach to their story. In the original cartoon, the Dinobots were created by the Autobots after they learned a little about Earth’s history, while in Fall of Cybertron… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but it is different. I never saw the Dinobots as central characters in the Transformers story, so I wasn’t too bothered by their re-imagined creation epic.
If there’s one thing I didn’t like about Fall of Cybertron, it’s the moments where you are asked to perform an action. There are many moments where the instructions take the form, “To repair <whoever>, press X”, or , “To struggle, press X”. It doesn’t feel like genuine interaction, although in some of those instances you can ignore the instruction and take on the consequences. I’m not sure what I would have preferred, perhaps something that allowed you to explicitly select between multiple options, but overall this wasn’t much of a problem… just something I think could have been done better.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron was another chance to revisit something I loved from my childhood and, importantly, in a way that stayed relatively true to the original storyline. Even if you’re not a long-standing Transformers fan, though, it’s still a great game; fun to play, and looks and sounds good. It’s well worth checking out and, if you have children, it might even provide that excuse for getting your old toys and videos out again.