“War For Cybertron” Video Game Event Review!

{mosimage} Last week, the Allspark had the unique opportunity to visit High Moon Studios in Carlsbad, California, home of the development team behind the upcoming "Transformers: War for Cybertron", due out for the XBox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 22, 2010. While it's no secret that the game will serve as a jumping-off point for a new version of the Transformers mythology, and that it also redesigns the entire planet of Cybertron and its inhabitants from the ground up, what's not been discussed much is the actual gameplay itself: it is, in a word, solid.


The game starts you off in robot mode, but a simple press of your analog stick will instantly transform you into your alternate form in a very nicely animated transition. It moves by too quickly to notice if it "cheats" at all by making polygons appear or disappear into thin air, but it's so liquid that it doesn't even matter. Another click on the stick and you're back in your robot mode, ready to kick aft and chew energum… and you're all out of energum. By default, every character has one ranged weapon and one melee weapon while in robot mode, and access to a separate ranged weapon while in vehicle mode. Collecting weapons dropped by fallen enemies will allow you to hot-swap your gun to a different type of gun- similar to most other shooters. One of the nice touches in War for Cybertron, however, is that no matter what weapon you're wielding, it will always maintain your robot's core color scheme. So if Optimus Prime equips a giant honking cannon of doom (and yes, there is one, right at the beginning of one of the intro levels we played), it will be red with blue trim for Prime, but yellow and black if it's picked up by Bumblebee. Each character also has his own melee weapon – Bumblebee has a sword, Optimus carries his trademark energy axe; Megatron wields a war hammer, etc.- which is used for close combat where a ranged weapon would be too unwieldy. There are no complex combinations of buttons required to melee or shoot; just simple one button attacks. It's a very smooth, streamlined combat system that becomes more complex when you account for transformation.

While games like "Gears of War" utilize cover systems based on the environment, "War for Cybertron" urges you to take advantage of your environment in attacking and brutalizing the opposing faction head on. One of the developers showed us a neat trick where he transformed Bumblebee into vehicle mode, used the speed boost found on the left shoulder button, blasted him off a makeshift ramp made from an outcropping of debris, transformed, and blasted down into a group of Decepticon grunts, catching them off-guard and making quick work of them using melee and special attacks.

We only got to see a tiny fraction of the game's overall features: while the folks at High Moon wouldn't go into details regarding the exact length of the two campaigns – one Autobot, and one Decepticon – the general feel was that they were very, VERY meaty. The small section of gameplay demoed for us was about 15 minutes from start to finish, and the dynamic changes depending on which character you choose to play through. For instance, playing as Ratchet puts more of a focus on defending your teammates and, naturally, performing repair maneuvers (making Ratchet a healer, to use MMO terminology). Bumblebee, on the other hand, uses his speed and maneuverability to quickly dispatch enemies (putting him in the rogue group). Prime, on the other hand, is big and heavy and hits hard; he can take and give a lot of punishment one-on-one or in a group (Prime is none other than the vital heart of any group, the tank). And you're not limited to Optimus, Bee, or Ratchet, of course. You'll be able to play as Ironhide, Air Raid, Warpath, and a veritable slew of others we've been told not to mention, although we can say that they will make longtime fans very happy.

That's all we're ready to show today, but come back tomorrow for some Q&A with the High Moon guys, and a look at some of the multiplayer options the game has in store.