Transformers: War for Cybertron

aka: Transformers: La Battaglia per Cybertron, Transformers: La Guerre pour Cybertron
Moby ID: 47267
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Description official descriptions

Taking place on the Transformers home planet of Cybertron, Transformers: The War for Cybertron tells the story of the Transformers long before they came in contact with Earth, which had been previously explored in the games based on the 2007 and 2009 movies.

A third-person action game utilizing the Unreal Engine to render the robots and their environments, players can choose to side with either the Autobots or Decepticons in single and online co-op campaigns for up to three players. Each side features its own story and missions in which the player can run, jump, shoot and of course transform. In single player mode the player is accompanied by two fellow Transformers which can be either AI or player controlled. Being a Transformers game, a key element is the ability to transform at will and thus choose between walking robot mode or driving or flying vehicle mode to explore the game's environments. Both modes offer different forms of mobility and weaponry.

Online multiplayer is available and allows players to configure their own Transformers character from one of four classes to duke it out in six different multiplayer modes such as Deathmatch, Code of Power, or Countdown to Extinction.

Reprising his role as Optimus Prime is voice actor Peter Cullen whose involvement with the role goes back to the Transformers' beginning in 1984.

Spellings

  • Трансформеры: Битва за Кибертрон - Russian spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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Average score: 76% (based on 41 ratings)

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Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 13 ratings with 1 reviews)

A Transformers fan's wet dream.

The Good
To be quite honest, and to summarize in an overly simplistic manner, this game is freaking awesome. Bear in mind as you read this—noting how I evaluate some of the positives and negatives—that I am a huge Transformers nerd. That said, let’s get down to this:

According to information I’ve read about this, the game is considered “official Generation One canon.” For those not in the know, “Generation One” is how we TF nerds refer to the original Transformers. That which was the cartoon from the 80’s and was the early comics from Marvel that originally wrote the universe many of us have come to know and love.

Why is this important? Well, there are two versions of “Generation 2,” (on in the comics, one in the TV/action figure world), there is Beast Wars (which is related to G1), and there are a wide variety of Japanese spin-off series such as their expansive Beast Wars Neo universe, the dreadful Armada series, followed by Energon and Cyberton, and the one-off Car Robots (Japan)/Robots in Disguise (US) series, as well as the generally not-terrible Transformers Animated series that appeared on Cartoon Network after the first live-action movie. For many of us TF enthusiasts (myself included), Generation 1 is the one that counts. I’ll get to the unfortunate part of this in the dislike section.

On to the actual game:

The number one thing I love about this game, that is gameplay-related and not Transformers nerd love, is just how much fun the action and combat is. Frankly, I can’t remember a time when I felt that sheer action and combat in a 3rd-person over-the-shoulder perspective was this much fun. It sure as hell wasn’t even remotely this entertaining in Resident Evil 5, and I simply never cared for Gears of War. Here, the action is brisk, noisy, and intense. It seems as though it might be overwhelming, and even on the normal difficulty I got killed quite a bit from rushing in sans strategy. What this means is that not only is the action smooth and immensely fun, but it’s a little less straight-forward than it seems.

Here’s an example, in one of the flying stages (it’s like the second stage in the Decepticon campaign, so pretty early in the game), you play as Starscream’s seeker team (Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp). It’s amazingly smooth, and incredibly satisfying to fly at a high speed gunning down an opponent only to transform as you reach him to melee the bot next to him to pieces. It’s speedy in a way that I dare say feels the way you’d always hope it would watching characters in the show transform on the fly (so to speak) to better handle their situations. It’s just really freaking satisfying.

Speaking of the transformations—they’re superb. The gimmick of these toys and characters never loses it’s appeal, and here, transformations are smooth, properly paced, important, and like visual crack—just addictive as hell. Even better, the classic transformation sound from that beloved 80’s cartoon makes a triumphant return, with variations depending on the characters adding an audible layer of depth to each character.

One of the coolest looking animations, at least to me, was forcing an enemy tank to transform from its nearly invincible tank form to its robot form, all of this happens realistically as the huge tank suddenly expands to a monstrous towering robot—right over your head. And yes, I mentioned important. Transformations are important for speed and fighting, and they’re necessary in all manner of places and times throughout the game. In fact, knowing when to switch it up ends up feeling very natural. In a crowded room with enemies everywhere, I would routinely switch to vehicle mode to quickly move myself into the thick of things to transform and melee enemy bots to shreds. Transforming, by the way, is seamlessly accomplished with a click of the left thumb stick.

Characters carry three to four weapons. Typically two bot-mode weapons, and one for vehicle mode, although a few characters (Starscream as I recall, is one of them) have two weapons in vehicle mode. Keeping the weapons minimized forces strategy in a very Halo-sort of way, and it also keeps the pacing of the game flowing fast. Each character starts off with a standard weapon, and they all have very effective melee weapons used simply clicking the right stick.
There is typically ample weapon pick-ups scattered about every area to easily maintain the action.

Besides this, there are a wide variety of grenades that can be picked up and launched with the B button, and heavy mounted turrets that can actually be ripped from their bases and used while walking around. Besides the regular bang-bang weapons, each character possesses individual “Energon” traits. The Left Bumper trait is generally usable at all times, and only needs to be recharged, the Right Bumper trait typically needs to be earned gathering up Energon from defeated enemies. These can be anything from shields, to defensive attacks, to placing sentries, among other things.

The story, again considered official canon, takes place at the start of the Great War and tells us how Cybertron came to be the nearly totally barren-of-energy world that it was in the original series. The game’s story is split into ten chapters, five make up the Decepticon campaign, and five make up the Autobot campaign. Either campaign can be played first, but the narrative order for the story is to play the Decepticon campaign first. Each stage takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half depending on your speed and difficulty setting (I generally always start a game at the normal difficulty). Stages are generally pretty straight-forward. Move through an area, wipe out enemies, trigger switches. Sounds pretty simplistic, but it’s pretty smooth.

There isn’t a lot of exploration, but then, the game isn’t made as much for that. Still, there are 25 Decepticon symbols hidden in the Autobot campaign and 25 Autobot symbols hidden in the Decepticon campaign to destroy for some extra stuff to do. Some of these things are hidden pretty well, on my first play-through, I only found about half in either campaign.

On top of this, the game isn’t bogged down in endless cut-scene storytelling. This isn’t Metal Gear Solid with fifty minutes of movie-watchin’ broken up by ten minutes of gameplay. Conversations are carried out, generally, in real-time and you can pay close attention, or just wander around and listen. It’s more like Bioshock in this way. There are no lengthy moments of sittin’ n’ watchin’ breaking up the gameplay. Within this, you’ll find some very entertaining dialog among the characters in the game. There is ample banter among the characters during gameplay, and for those of us that grew up with the expansive personalities of Transformers characters, this feels pretty natural and very entertaining. Many moments were genuinely funny when intended to be.

Peter Cullen even reprises his role as Optimus Prime, and most characters have very fitting personalities. For once, Starscream is properly shown in his “psycho-genius” persona. For my taste (he’s my favorite character, by the way), there has often been too much focus on making him the cowardly second-in-command under Megatron, and realistically, he never would’ve become second in command if he was always a cowardly weasel. There are ample character introductions, and we get to learn of Optimus Prime’s rise to his iconic position (granted, this is a different story than the Orion Pax tale found in the original cartoon).

Each stage is played with three characters, and there are quite a few classic characters overall, one of which the player chooses before starting. Sometimes other characters show up to add elements to the story. The other two characters are computer controlled (or player controlled if you do an online co-op game). Thankfully, these have got to be the most enjoyable in-game partners in a long time. They don’t take damage and they don’t screw you over constantly bawling for help, screwing you over, or getting into some other kind of generic trouble. Sure, you may think that this reduces the challenge or impact of the game, but just sit for a second and think—would you prefer partner characters that don’t take damage and don’t screw you over, or would you prefer idiot CPU-partners like in Gears of War and Resident Evil 5 that spend ample time ruining the best-laid plans, contributing little other than wasting health items, or running moronically straight to their own deaths. Frankly, after the pure hate-filled frustration I endured with Resident Evil 5, I was more than happy to have CPU partners that didn’t go around ruining everything. There are moments where reviving other characters is part of the gameplay of the stage, or things like this, but at least the player isn’t spending the entire game running to some CPU retard to heal a character the player would rather just watch die. Yeah, I’m still not over Sheva’s overall idiotic partnership.

While the game is focused mostly on a lot of running and gunning and transforming and driving and gunning, goals, focus, and individual mission objectives are fairly varied. You may be charging through one area, freeing characters in another, defending an area, protecting a character, taking out boss characters, or what have you. I’m doing my best not to spoil anything, but no two boss battles are the same. The giant tank I mentioned is introduced as a kind of sub-boss, but after that, it’s anything goes.

Graphically, the game is phenomenal. This is the best looking Cyberton I’ve ever seen. In fact, I can’t think of a time when we’ve had such impressive science fiction vistas for this iconic fictional world. It feels alien and “classically sci-fi,” and quite frankly, easily outshines the brief shots Michael Bay gave us of his Cyberton in the live-action movies. It’s vibrant and lively, and shows us a detailed and gorgeous world that is probably the most believable Cyberton that’s ever been crafted. All the characters look just fantastic, and not to over-state this, but again, their transformations look brilliant. The designs and colorations of the characters is almost perfect, and true to classic color schemes.

Starscream and the seekers resemble their fairly basic Cybertronian-jet style with its triangular shape, Bumblebee’s design is perfect, Megatron’s tank form is great, and so on. Some might object that the playable Decepticon seekers all look the same aside from color swaps, while the Autobot fliers all look different, but then again—that’s always been the way of the Decepticon seekers. Starscream and his trio all looked the same aside from palette swaps. I had a little trouble accepting Soundwave as a car, but he does appear in his more common stereo-like style.

On the audio side, the music ranges from docile background tunes to epic themes to crunching guitar-driven instrumental hard rock/metal style emphasizing some of the heavier action-oriented areas. On top of this, there are several sections of the game where the music gradually builds as the player moves through the area, and the impact of this is just outstanding. It feels like the game is building to something great, and very often, it does build to something that doesn’t let down.

The voice acting is generally pretty good, and falls in line with what TF fans would be hoping for, and for that matter, what we’re used to. Perhaps it’s because we’re dealing with robots that aren’t exactly expressive in the subtle way people can be, but Transformers characters have always been rife with personality. Sound effects are appropriate and have a very “sci-fi” feel to them, and a lot of them are borrowed or clearly inspired by the live-action films. This isn’t a bad thing because, quite frankly, I think that’s one of the best parts of those films—the TF movies have their own sound, and here, it’s both instantly recognizable as “Transformers” and appropriate. Again, the classic 80’s transformation sound is back in full swing.

The game’s flow and style tends to remain consistent, and on my initial play-through, I only encountered one truly frustrating area. Everything else was challenging without being unfair or gut-splittingly obnoxious. Boss battles are widely varied and simply incredible. At first glance, they are what one would hope to see, something that just looks overwhelming as all hell, but is quickly manageable once a solution is found. Checkpoints are also numerous, meaning that there isn’t a lot of redoing long stretches when you get slaughtered. Or rather, in classic Beast Wars slang, slagged (which was also their interchangeable swear word).

Control is sharp and responsive, and only with rare exception did I feel that what I was trying to do wasn’t happening—though it could have been during that one truly frustrating section (won’t say what, will say Autobot fliers). But a note should be made here—vehicle modes do not operate like driving in many other games. The rules don’t suddenly change completely on you. The character vehicle modes are controlled largely the same as the rest of the 3rd-person gameplay, with a dual-analog set-up. The main difference is with the addition of a boost assigned to a trigger button. This, I believe, is for two reasons: One of which was to maintain the flow of the game, and the other was because the gamer is still using a character, not a vehicle. It just happens that the character has a vehicle mode. I know, this sounds a little weird, and at first, it feels a little bizarre, but it doesn’t take long to adapt to the style.

On the Xbox360 Achievement side, the game keeps track of the gamer’s progress as Achievements are being earned, which is really nice, and adds to the already addictive nature of Achievement hunting. In fact, I so enjoyed this game that it’s one of the few X360 titles I actually feel like going back into for the purpose of Achievement hunting after completing the game’s main story.

The Bad
Now, for as excellent and fun as this game is, it’s not without its faults.

Many of the weapons seem close-minded, uncreative or wrong. For one thing, Starscream’s Null Ray wasn’t a sniper rifle. It was a powerful laser weapon, and something specialized to him (many of us who were fans of the cartoon will recall Starscream bragging about the weapon). Here, it’s as if they ran out of creativity and suddenly the weapon is just a sniper rifle. Sure, the sniper rifle is a necessary part of the game, but it shouldn’t be this. The shotgun just seems stupid. Most Transformer weapons were energy-based, with Beast Wars being one of the few series to use ample machine-gun style “classic” gunplay (an apparent side effect of the syndicated nature of the show having fewer broadcast rules and less censorship).

Some character personalities are pushed a little too far, and development a little underwhelming. Granted, we have way more character development than Michael Bay accomplished through two movies, but sometimes it feels like the writers are hitting clichés that they think fans expect, rather than trying to expand anything.

There is no offline multiplayer. What the hell is the deal with this these days? How hard is it to make good split-screen co-op gameplay? Oh sure, Resident Evil 5 botched the crap out of that with one of the worst-looking split-screen set-ups imaginable, but seriously. Not all of us have Live Gold, and besides that, sometimes I would really like to be able to play my games with someone who’s right here in the room with me.

The game isn’t super long. Granted, I didn’t find everything (the aforementioned Bot/Con symbols hidden in every level and many achievements) and my first play-through took somewhere between fifteen and twenty hours, but this game is really freakin’ good. I wanted so much more, and on top of this, it’s entirely possible to play through the game and not use all the available characters—and there aren’t even that many of them. Trust me when I say that few franchises are so character-rich as Transformers is, and it’s just disappointing to see so few characters used.

There are only two flying stages, one for each campaign, and this is just not enough. Like I said, some of the most satisfying action involved cruising in as Starscream, blasting away at some Autobot drone, transforming and melee attacking the crap out of the guy right next to the one I just blasted.

I did experience a couple glitches during the game, the largest involved meeting with Zeta Prime when scripted actions to the story completely failed to appear forcing me to exit the game and try again. There were also a few moments found cruising through the game where “loading” was actually seen on the gameplay screen and action halted for a moment.

I would have preferred Megatron’s voice to sound more like his 80’s cartoon counterpart. No Shockwave (though, it is possible they were factoring in classic Marvel comics storyline in this, and if so, Shockwave and the Dinobots were trapped on primitive Earth at the time). Regular gameplay focuses mostly on cutting through large numbers of enemy drones rather than involving a lot of well-known characters.

This new “canon” story conflicts heavily with quite a bit of other, previously believed-to-be-canonical material, most importantly, classic Marvel comics stories and modern Dreamwave and IDW comics. Megatron’s and Starscream’s meeting, for instance, is completely botched from the rise of Megatron from the IDW comics focusing on Megatron’s beginnings. Starscream and Jetfire’s relationship is completely hacked to bits.

While the story is considered “official canon,” it would have been great to have some kind of unlockable museum that gives a detailed history of the canonical storyline into which the game fits. Is it based on the original TV series or the original comic series? To be honest, from my experience with the fan community, the comics-line is preferred, and as such, the Dreamwave and IDW stories such as War Within, Rise of Megatron, and the story taking place just prior to the happenings of the 1986 movie (which took place in 2006) have typically been considered canon, along with the US-produced first three seasons of Beast Wars. (To my knowledge, I have no idea how well the follow-up, Beast Machines, is factored into the full story arc.) Now, I know this is a lot of uber-geekery, and it doesn’t help that I also collect these things and have a bunch of the comics, but continuity is a rather big deal to me. Huge epic stories are great, but not when there is constant unmarked revisions taking place throughout the timeline.


The Bottom Line
Now, again, I’m a huge Transformers fan. I have boxes and boxes of these things. (They’re in boxes because when I moved, I had no place to put them all, and I’ve been trying to cease that hobby and just focus on gaming since doing both was expensive.) And while it was really cool to see Transformers on the big screen, this is quite a bit cooler, and treated with a lot more love and respect than Michael Bay has done. The transformations aren’t over-complex like they are in the live-action movies. They’re pretty logical looking, and again, just so freakin’ cool. I found myself often switching forms just to do it, even when there was no reason to.

Granted, not all fans of any one thing are the same, and no doubt, there will be Transformers fans that will be more forgiving than me and some ultra-uber-hardcore types that will just hate everything about this. I, quite frankly, am extremely satisfied. Look carefully at my negatives, they’re mostly nit-picking the story and wishing for more. And once I finished this game, I truly did and do want more. More characters to use, more stages, a wider story, and again, some kind of museum. Perhaps had they made the stages shorter, there would’ve been more chances to use all the available bots and cons.

Still, I would’ve loved to have seen so many more characters. Especially on the Decepticon side. Because the seekers are all the same basic design, it feels like there aren’t enough of them, plus, some of the Autobot campaign stages had more characters involved in the story arc. And again, I really can’t get past the lack of offline co-op. That’s just so stupid. Hopefully, this is a starting point for future games to come, hopefully with more characters, better association with the original continuity, offline multiplayer, and a little longer game overall. Remember, this doesn’t mean the game is short or not worth the money—it certainly is—it’s just that you’ll be left wanting more of this one. And honestly, who's going to complain about 15 - 20 hours of pure Transformers awesomeness?

Quite frankly, this could’ve been a disaster. It’s a licensed property after all, and for as much of a Transformers fan as I am, I never bothered with any of the games based on the live-action movies. Lackluster reviews are only part of the problem, I also wasn’t interested in simply reliving the movies in a half-hearted manner, nor could I get past the fact that the games are just licensed shlock—lame tie-ins to a movie. A product put out to merchandise the film, no different in the care or focus than a kid’s T-shirt (at least the toys rocked).

But this? This is an original game, with an original story aiming for fans of classic Transformers. This takes a license as the starting point, but this has to stand on it’s own—and stand it does. And awesome, it is. This is the love of the license we should’ve seen in the live-action films. The love that should’ve been behind that last few cartoons. The kind of love of Transformers we tend to only find in the classic Marvel comics and the modern comics from IDW.

The only thing… I wish I hadn’t found toys in the Universe line (at Target) that are character designs from this game. I’m going to end up addicted to this stuff all over again.

Xbox 360 · by ResidentHazard (3555) · 2010

Trivia

Action Figures

Like all things Transformers, eventually the toys came into the equation. The Transformers Generations line has been used to re-vamp popular and classic characters in fresh forms, or other elements outside whichever movie or television show is currently released, and this line is where characters from War for Cybertron have made an appearance. Four characters found in War for Cybertron initially found their way into the Transformers Generations line: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and Soundwave. Rather than directly referencing the War for Cybertron game, the characters are listed as "Cybertronian Soundwave" or "Cybertronian Optimus Prime." Descriptions on the backs of the cards tend to be somewhat generic, however the characters resemble their forms from the game.

Preorder Bonus

Customers who pre-ordered the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version of the game from either Amazon.com or GameStop were given special codes to unlock Decepticon characters, respectively Demolishor and Shockwave, for multiplayer.

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Game added by Fire Convoy.

Additional contributors: jaXen, Klaster_1, Francesco Sfiligoi, Starbuck the Third, ResidentHazard.

Game added July 10, 2010. Last modified September 18, 2023.