The IP Shack # 2: Transformers: War For Cybertron

We’d like to introduce you to the IP Shack. The IP Shack is all about giving our gamers (staff and readers) a space to rant about the games that aren’t currently spamming the industry with videos, screenshots, teaser trailers, previews, or any related pre-purchase buzz. The idea being that we’ll take a discussion point from a game old or new, whimsical or technical and share some thought on it. We kind of see it as a revisit to existing game IPs (hence name…the shack part is because we like candles) to look at them from quirky angles.

Like I said it’s still barely out of a ‘beta’ phase so expect some experimentation over the coming weeks. We could be waffling about the online days of Splinter Cell back on the PS2, and about all the glitches and scary voices. Or speculation on Raiden’s sexual preferences, why Nolan North seems to pop up in every bloody game, the best puzzle on Portal, whatever. But all you really need to ‘get’ is that this is a little bit less serious and restricted than articles normal dictate, so relax, don’t feel guilty about liking Bayonetta, and come inside the Shack. This week we discuss Transformers: War For Cybertron.

Other than sounding incredibly nerdy and presenting myself as a hopelessly childish robot fanboy, I think I can swallow my pride and tell you how much I enjoyed this game.  I feel that despite its niggling flaws, High Moon Studio (published by Activision we should note) managed to finally NAIL that core fantasy of being an ass whooping super mech with neon miniguns and sat nav- like vocal chords. There have been a depressingly large amount of awful Transformers games in the past, and while they all have some redeeming feature tucked deep in the fabric of their shoddy workmanship, the majority of the games were rubbish. Like – scrap heap rubbish (sorry couldn’t resist).

Optimus Prime and his posse of transforming knights hit shelves in the summer of 2010, and it did sell rather well considering all things. For me and many others, the two most satisfying things about the game were the transformations themselves and the weaponry, which are pretty much all we longed for in a Transformers game.

The crunchy guns feel manically powerful and even from the start of the campaign mode you are equipped with some sort of roaring Ion cannon-Gatling gun, you also get awesome melee weapons; like axes and maces that unfurl from somewhere inside your characters arm. Indeed High Moon Studio don’t mess about when it comes to visceral firepower.

Transformations are somewhere in between the super complicated special effects of Michael Bay and the clunky but iconic judders of the cartoons, and by golly they work perfectly. They genuinely look and feel incredible, watching Bumblebee tumble through the air and click about like an origami engine to land on his feet only to swing around a rocket launcher that looks like it came from the top of a tank – is a fantastic feeling that has taken so long to get here.

Or when you’re a jet from the scientist class, and you can effortlessly pull off all the circus tricks Starscream shows off in the recent movies within minutes of first picking the game up. It is the way these two very basic and seemingly crude factors interact, that just go to show how the fundamental vision for a game can redeem nearly all of the little things that would otherwise ruin a less directional title. The most annoying and persistent problem is the multiplayer server. When it works it is quite simply one of the best online experiences you can get, just because the core formula is so strong and impossible to impersonate (full scale mech -playgrounds with all the trimmings). However the bugs and issues in the matchmaking are many.

Trouble is, it has never been patched. Whether this is Activision or High Moon not seeing the effort being worth it, I don’t know – but I find it sad that such a wonderful setup is tragically stained by unnecessary sloppiness. Rumours have it that a sequel is on the way, but as I’m not particularly knowledgeable in the literature of Hasbro’s franchise I can’t say whether they will be able to ‘take us back to Cybertron’ (Prime forgot his laptop maybe?), and part of the initial appeal of the first game was the fact it was going somewhere totally uncharted in the gaming world.

If the sequel doesn’t get canned (sad face), I gather the online community have been begging for another character class (currently available are: Soldier –Tank, Scientist –Jet, Leader – Truck, Scout – super car) from High Moon, and a new style of map design with things to interact with. Hopefully the developers are cooking up an underwater level of caves and tunnels, and maybe even a helicopter class? Time will tell.

Anything to say vaguely related to Transformers: War For Cybertron? Shoot up the comments section with your stuff.