In 2010, developer High Moon Studios accomplished something many Transformers fans had long deemed impossible -- create a quality video game based on the classic Hasbro characters. After a handful of forgettable movie tie-ins, "War for Cybertron" easily claimed the mantle of "Best Transformers Game Ever."
Last year's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," a companion game to the summer blockbuster and another High Moon creation, failed to match the high standards set by "War for Cybertron" and left many -- myself included -- wondering if the developer could indeed repeat the success it enjoyed with its first foray into the world of Transformers.
It took only a few minutes with High Moon's latest Transformers adventure, "Fall of Cybertron," to put those doubts to rest. This direct sequel to "War for Cybertron" features a more compelling story, more varied environments and gameplay styles, and more Transformers to control on the single-player side, and a robust multiplayer suite that offers gamers a chance to create and customize their own Transformer.
Multiplayer in "Fall of Cybertron" is good for a fun diversion, especially the co-op Escalation Mode, but the excellent single-player campaign -- the developer scrapped the co-op campaign in favor of a more focused narrative -- is reason enough to warrant a purchase for any true Transformers fan.
Instead of offering separate Autobot and Decepticon campaigns like "War for Cybertron," "Fall of Cybertron" recounts the final days of the Transformers' home world and their subsequent escape to Earth through the eyes of members of both factions. Bouncing back and forth between Autobots and Decepticons not only keeps the story moving at a taut pace, but each Transformer has their own special skills that keeps gameplay from getting stale.
Whether it was sneaking around using Cliffjumper's stealth or blasting everything in sight as Megatron, "Fall of Cybertron" constantly mixed up the experience, unlike "War for Cybertron" which was almost exclusively a straight-forward third-person shooter. The most memorable levels were reserved for the series' new characters -- Grimlock and the Combaticons. Laying waste to Decepticons while using Grimlock's nearly indestructible Dinobot form was pure joy, as was punching through Autobot defenses using Bruticus, the gigantic combined form of the Combaticons.
The variety in gameplay is matched only by the variety in level design. "Fall of Cybertron" not only takes the action to the far reaches of the planet, but the environments are more highly detailed than those found in "War for Cybertron." Each level has its own unique features and visual flair, and it was great to experience Cybertron beyond the tight corridors and indoor arenas of its predecessor.