TWFC

Transformers: War for Cybertron, strangely, despite my utter love of Transformers in younger years, this will be the first ever Transformers game I have played….how weird is that? Well anyway, here is what I thought about it.

Firstly this is some other generation of transformers, not my beloved generation one. Being set on Cybertron, they all get some vaguely earth looking vehicle modes which don’t really resemble what they look like in the cartoons and comics from my childhood. At least the colours still match, I’m giving you a Bumblebee warning folks, seriously who the f**k likes bumblebee so much he has to feature in everything? he’s a shitty transformer with a truly stupid horned head.

Now I’ve got that out of my system, War for Cybertron is pretty consolized. It works on PC but don’t expect many PC options, you can’t even re-bind your keys, fortunately there aren’t many keys you need to remember, but still that is a poor port issue. Graphically the game looks superb, Cybertron the Transformers home world, gives the developer all sorts of free rein to create some weird metallic cityscape environments.

There are two campaigns to play, firstly the Decepticon missions, and when those are complete you unlock the Autobot missions. They all follow the same storyline so it makes sense to lock them in that order. Each act gives you the option to swap between three selected transformers for that respective mission, sometimes they are aircraft transformers, sometimes they are ground based transformers. The ability to play different transformers is pretty cool, although the majority of their skills and weapons are shared between all of them across the entire game.

The games balance is let down by some rather haphazard ammo and health drops. Sometimes you’ll have more than you need and sometimes you’ll be stuck with nothing but your melee attack to fight enemies. This is particularly frustrating when you are in the later levels where finding those rare placed ammo points or alternative weapons becomes a greater priority to survival, than simply fighting the enemy.

It’s satisfying to swap between vehicle modes and robot modes as you fight and traverse the levels, you can pull off some great combination attacks by doing so and when it works it is pleasing. I would have liked some collision physics for ramming but otherwise I liked it.

Of course there are also the times when you’re out of ammo and being in vehicle mode is pointless, the game can’t seem to decide if it wants to give you ammo or not, some vehicle modes have unlimited ammo and some don’t. Personally I feel ammo is a pointless trope from other games that could have been skipped with either an overheat mechanic if you fire for too long with a weapon or quite frankly just some better designed weapon and ammo placement.

Many of the weapons are simply not worth holding, the few that are truly useful appear to be quite rare and hard to find in many levels. Forcing you to endure much of the game with rubbish guns, unless you happen to be using Megatron or Optimus, who do have some nice default armament. The melee system is fun if somewhat simple, often giving one hit kills when you hit your targets. There is something appealing about rushing up to an enemy in vehicle mode and then transforming and cutting them down in a single blow.

Because of the unbalanced weapon limitations and ammo/health drops, this can cause certain levels or areas of the game to be frustrating to play. Three times I found my situation of weapon options or lack of ammo detrimental to my ability to fight and ended up taking a break. For a game with such simple combat mechanics it seems odd the developers want to make you care about resources such as ammo usage, the concept doesn’t match with the arcade action feel of the gameplay.

I also had issues with the AI companions, you spend most of the game supported by the two transformers you didn’t choose before the mission started.  Who are as is traditional in games, mostly hood ornaments. Occasionally they will steal a kill but most of the time they just run in front of your cross hairs and block your shots. I understand there is a fine balance between this sort of behavior and the Call of Duty method, where the allied AI can kill everything for you, but the designers haven’t done enough to make your companions worth having beyond narrative.

The voice acting and sound effects are excellent and do remind me of the cartoons, the music is just sort of “there” without really being memorable. At least until the credits, where you get a rather Americanized version of a soundtrack which is a bit cringe worthy. I like the use of so many different transformer characters within the game, while they often share mechanics with each other it still gives the player the option to choose their “favorite” character for a mission.

Despite some frustrating design choices and lacking PC standard features, I did have fun with Transformers: War for Cybertron. Perhaps this was more due to my nostalgia for the IP, rather than the gameplay being especially good. Overall  It’s an average game with some average arcade quality gameplay, primarily notable in it’s solid stability and Transformers/Cybertron setting. If you’re a Transformers fan you’ll get some enjoyment out of it, but there are better PC games out there.

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