Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Demo Impressions

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It has been awhile since I did a first impression of something.  Not really sure why, probably due to the lack of major games, let alone demos, that come out in the summer.  Onto the game itself, Transformers was the shit back when I was in 3rd and 4th grade.  I grew up with the Armada iteration, but I find the original series to be spectacularly cheesy.  Early on in the year, I stated that I would go through all 2D Transformers series, but after the first 18 episodes of the first generation, I was done.  But a brand does not make a game, so let’s tear my nostalgia glasses away from my face, and get right into it!

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Demo Impressions
Release Date: 21/8/12
Platforms: Xbox 360(Reviewed), Playstation 3, PC

Before you ask, yes I thought the Transformers movies were tripe, and no I did not play War For Cybertron.  It was on my radar, but I am bias against games with a large multiplayer focus.  Mostly due to how much I enjoy getting Achievements in games.  I know it is a bad habit, but I like to play games the way a designer wanted me to, so I can get maximum joy, and it makes my criticism more justified.  But in a Multiplayer game, I have to deal with actual people, and I get really nervous, and there is no designer designated way to handle randomness caused by more than one chaotic human.  That and I dislike replaying the same map over and over again.  I only played about 5 hours of Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, and I was already bored stiff by the same scenery, and routine layouts of the map.  

But onto the game in question.  The first demo begins with the littlest robot of them all, Bumblebee, being forced to fend off waving baddies who take about 7% as much damage as you do, since you are a main characters.  I have a major problem with this, despite being robots, no enemy stood up after a handful of bullets, and they are made from pretty much the same parts as this yellow refrigerator.  There might be an explanation about these guys being quickly generated drones, but there is none of that to be found in the demo.  But beyond that bit, it is a pretty standard third-person shooter, with an aim button, two normal weapon slots, and a heavy weapon.  Well, I say standard, when the shooting just feels a bit off.  I had a similar problem with the small amount of Halo Reach that I played, where I do not feel like I am really hurting these guys, and they just fall down after I hit them enough.  

In Bioshock and Mass Effect 2, there are health bars for foes, and enemies offer visible reactions when getting shot. In terms of visible reactions, they die too fast to show it, and even if they didn’t, the game has this very thick cyberpunk scenery, and the uncreative looking drones look like part of the scenery that I am demolishing, not anything that is actually alive.  This could have been fixed in many different ways.  Give baddies health bars over their heads, highlight them like in Mass Effect 2, bring in a radar that shows where enemies are.  I also need to comment on making the main enemies for both campaigns in this game, red for when you are playing as the Decepticons, and Purple while playing as the Autobots.  I do not think that I need to tell you that purple contains red, so they can blend in if you just glance at a character walking down the shiny battlefield.  And while the reticle does help, it does not prevent the awkwardness of shooting what feels like boxes in the background.  Although the game is very pretty despite everything being made of metal.  But it is cluttered and everything is so shiny that I keep thinking that Cybertron is made of gold and silver.  This is fixed in the second part of the demo, but it just becomes a brown industrial area, which is the least creative location in all of video games.  

And then we have the controls.  This being Transformers, the game needs to accompany flying, driving, and on-foot controls, and maybe it is just me, but I kept on transforming in the middle of hallways, and while running through battlefields.  It does make more sense for LB to dash, and LS to transform, but it is obvious from how linear these sections are designed, that the creative team did not account on a player turning into a car when they should have been fighting robots made of tinfoil.  And I cannot get a good grasp on any of the controls, because I do not feel like I am controlling a two ton robot.  I understand that heavy protagonists are now out of style, but these characters turn into cars, so I wouldn’t be able to complain if the car felt like a car, but everything feels more like a plastic toy.  In addition, the guns do not feel like they pack quite the right impact, but that might be due to the fact that they are lasers.  In a short box, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is not a bad game on the surface, and everything is decently enough done to be sellable.  But it just does not grasp the mechanics of making a shooter carry any actual weight.  The visuals detract from the feeling of control, and that’s before you get to the invisible walls.  Nothing feels like it is really there, and feels more like cardboard than space metal.  And the selling point, the whole transforming bit, is very contextual, and there seems to be little purpose in even controlling it, since turning into a car during a firefight just makes you lose your ability to aim.  The game could still be good, but the final nail was the absence of the original Starscream voice.  I’ve heard some pretty good impressions, but this is what you came up with? C’mon, that guy was the heart of the show, give him more than a decent voice!

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