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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Hands On Preview

High Moon’s latest impresses.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is on its way to being just as good, if not better than its predecessor if my latest hands-on with the game is any indicator. 2010’s War for Cybertron left a lasting impression on me, and was one of my favorite games of that year. It finally set the bar for what a Transformers game should be like with the right amount of action, fluidity of gameplay,  and the overall production value. Thankfully, Fall of Cybertron continues that trend. The latest demo, which includes single and multiplayer components shows that High Moon has learned from some of its mistakes in the last game and is trying hard to make sure that Fall of Cybertron is a better game overall.

Beginning with the single player portion of the demo, there are two acts. The first places you in the metal-shell of the Autobot, Bumblebee. In what is likely to be the opening act of the game, the Autobots seem to be aboard the Arc (their famed ship) and are escaping Decepticon forces. After being knocked out, Bumblebee is soon brought back up to working state (but loses his voice chip in the process) and is tasked with aiding in the defense of the Arc against the Decepticons.

Gameplay is very similar to the previous game in the series, but seeing how this was the first level, some abilities were absent from Bumblebee’s portion. One early change that players will notice is that now there is a universal dash button. Players can not only dash, but can roll, which allows for some extra evasive tactics. Along with that comes the sprint action, which is done by holding down the dash button. This simply grants you extra running speed and the ability to do a running melee attack. The game hasn’t adopted a cover system, but in its stead is an option to change your shooting hand which optimizes your use of the cover that you do have. Unfortunately they have removed grenades from the gameplay which may bother some, but I didn’t find it to be much of a detriment.

The second act takes players to Chapter 6 of the game and places you in control of the Decepticon helicopter, Vortex. This level in particular was very interesting, as it laid out more emphasis on verticality and flying. While I personally found these levels to be more exciting in the original game, the scale is definitely larger and it's obvious as you fly around and see the war waging around you. One thing players might notice when playing this level is that now, instead of having two abilities at your disposal, you have one. That said, this one ability is a lot more customized to the mission at hand. Vortex in particular gets a powerful shockwave that is extremely cool, and effective.

A particular section during the level has you in a giant room with groups of enemies shooting at you from different heights. Flying around the room to find your objectives as well as dispose of your enemies was exciting, and at many times has you feeling powerful. For example, a new addition came in the form of a purchasable turret that follows you around and assists with kills. One of the best things this series does after all is make you feel like a Transformer. Both robot and vehicle modes have their unique flavor and uses to them which make each encounter interesting. Finding out when to use each of your modes will better your chances of success, and by the end of the level I was craving more. Before the ending however, I found that they added Audio Logs to the game, which help to flesh out the story and give players more insight into Cybertron’s final moments.

Players who liked War for Cybertron will likely remember that the game had a surprisingly robust and insanely fun multiplayer mode. That is also back in the demo, and it’s as fun as ever, despite a few noticeable changes. The first and one of the most positive changes is the full character creation system. You now have the opportunity to alter different aspects of your transformer's look, like their head, shoulders, and even wheels and decals. Though most of the options are locked (this is a demo after all) I can tell that gaining experience and money to unlock parts will be one of the more addicting parts of the multiplayer. You still have four classes with specific roles that they fulfill, though some of the classes have gone through slight name changes (instead of being known as the leader class, it is now known as the Destroyer).

Multiplayer itself has gotten a few facelifts as well. Some surprising changes were made, like the removal of double jumping and the most surprising, kill streaks. Rather than gaining kill streaks the traditional way, there are special abilities (some of which were kill streaks in War for Cybertron) are on specific points of the map. Players spend points to purchase these abilities and can use them at their disposal which is good in some ways, but broken in others. Now instead of having to earn your kill streak, you can just buy one once you have racked up enough points. The abilities available were not game breaking, but if certain ex-kill streaks like the Energon Sword make appearances on specific maps, this could be an issue.

Despite those minor setbacks, the game is still just as fun as ever in multiplayer. The rush of getting into a firefight, transforming, and working with your team is still as exhilarating as before.

The two game modes available for the demo are Team Deathmatch and Conquest, my favorite being the latter. For those who are unfamiliar, Conquest is simply the Transformers version of Call of Duty’s Domination, where you take over a specific point on the map and accumulate points until you reach the goal. Overall the experience has never been smoother, especially with the addition of host migration. It's a late, but needed improvement over the previous game.

After playing the demo, one thing is sure: I cannot wait for this game to come out. The story mode looks to be full of memorable moments and the multiplayer already has me yearning to play and unlock more. Fans of War for Cybertron should be comfortable with knowing that the series is still headed in the right direction. While there are definitely changes to the formula, I feel that in general, the changes are for the better. Of course, we will all find out when the game releases on August 21.



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