SNAG OR GAG: Transformers Fall of Cybertron

Previously, I talked about the 2010 release of Transformers: War for Cybertron. It was a decent title, but since it did fairly well and it is based on a beloved franchise, it was inevitable that it would get a sequel would be made. And in 2012 we got just that with Fall of Cybertron. So was it a worthy follow-up to the previous title? Let’s find out.

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So the first question I had about the sequel was that given how War for Cybertron ended, was there any real story left to tell that wouldn’t feel forced? Well the answer is, kind of. At the end of the first title, SPOILERS obviously, we know that Cybertron is essentially dead and the Autobots have already made plans to leave for a new world. So what comes next? Well, actually being able to leave the planet. In the aftermath of the first game and the war itself the planet’s energy source, Energon, is about to be completely depleted. The Autobots need to gather as much of this as possible in order to power their ship, The Ark. This is made even worse by the fact that they are constantly under attack by the Decepticons. It has gone from a war, to a desperate struggle to escape.

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I am already on board with this concept. It adds so much more depth to what was basically a simple war story. Sure the first game had a lot at stake, but this time around they found a way to make it feel even more important. It is no longer about winning or losing, it’s about survival. This allows for a much deeper investment in what is happening.

This leads to our first real change from War for Cybertron, story presentation. Aside from the changes I mentioned above, you can no longer choose which faction or chronological order to play as first. You are forced to play the story from beginning to end from where it truly starts. It honestly isn’t a harmful change, but it is worth noting. Thankfully you do get to play as both factions throughout the game and as different Transformers as well which add a decent variance to the gameplay.

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When it comes to the gameplay, it is still a third person shooter with even more of a Gears of War feel than the last one. Thankfully though, you are no longer just fighting in claustrophobic and confined spaces with never-changing backgrounds. They have added a lot more space for you to fight in and have made several tweaks to enemy encounters making them feel far less like a rinse and repeat but a new struggle. This is especially made clear towards the end, but more on that later.

Unfortunately there is still an issue with enemy variance, especially when it comes to swapping factions. They’re just the same enemies, they’ve just been pallet swapped.  And while I do enjoy the tweaked combat, the difficulty has been spiked just a bit as a result. This lead to more than few very frustrating moments, especially when it came to those freaking shotgunners….I hate them SO MUCH!!!……Anyway. It can be difficult. Difficult, but not impossible. It is doable with some learning.

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A brand new feature added to the game is Upgrades. There are stations spread out throughout the game and it is essentially on whichever side has money for it. Upgrading equipment is fun and all, but there is absolutely no way you will get every upgrade for all of the guns and perks in one play through. It simply won’t happen.

If there is one thing to take away from this game, it’s that High Noon Studios wanted to add one very important thing to this game to make stand out from its previous incarnation: MORE. Yes, every sequel to every game, movie, show, book, podcast, and children’s play wants to make bigger and badder than the last. But this game actually does really well at this. I mentioned how the story feels more intense than the last time, but it’s more than just the Autobots making that feeling come across, it’s the Decepticons too.

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It really only takes one character to help you understand why the Decepticons are doing what they’re doing, and that’s the big boss himself, Megatron. He’s always been a fairly threatening figure, but in this game you get a better understanding as to what makes him unique, what it is that makes the Deceptions follow him into battle. The short version, without spoiling anything, he is essentially a Warrior-King. He can talk the talk and walk the walk. He is the ultimate opponent for Optimus Prime. He’s kind of like the HHH to Prime’s John Cena, he may get beat by Prime, and sometimes embarrassingly, but he will never lose his confidence and the persona that surrounds him when comes to fight. And yes I know the 1986 movie is the exception to this, but I’m watching Raw as I type this and the metaphor totally works, so go with it.

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However the ultimate cherry on top for this game was its final stretch. Again I will try not spoil too much, but not only do you get to play as Grimlock just before the final mission (which was just stupid fun to do), but in the final battle, you get to swap back and forth between both factions. Finish the first section as Soundwave, start the next as Jetfire. It goes on like this for a bit, with each part being very different and yet woven together very nicely. It is the first time I can ever think of in-game where I am responsible for both sides of a final battle, or any battle for that matter, at the same time. It was a really neat idea that I would love to see more of.

Once you get to the climax of the battle, you do get to choose which side you ultimately want to be on, Autobot or Decepticon. One shall stand, one shall fall (man, that line is way more awesome than it should be). Now for those who are worried about having to backtrack to see both endings, don’t fret. You can easily just reload your last checkpoint after the credits and it will take you right back to where you can choose your side. Unfortunately there isn’t really a noteworthy difference between either ending, so you can choose which one you want to be canon. Also, the end credits are neat. It freaking plays “The Touch” because they know how to pull your nostalgia strings. And I don’t know if that big @$$ Autobot Metroplex was in any of the shows or not, but seeing him playing with regular sized Transformers like action figures made me happy and I want a figure of his for myself….someone please buy him for me. Please and thank you.

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Fall of Cybertron was a really good follow-up to an ok game. High Noon really tried to look back at War for Cybertron and figure out where they could make needed improvements. The presentation was easily the biggest upgrade, and while everything else was tweaked in one way or another, the one area that still suffered was gameplay. It was by no means broken, but with frustrating areas and a few levels that honestly feel like they just go on forever, it is sadly the weakest part of the game. But as I have a said before, the presentation tends to more than make up for that, along with a few player moments that are just extremely satisfying. I won’t spoil them, but let’s just say there were some memorable highlights.

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So is this game a Snag or a Gag? If you can use deductive reasoning, and remember that I said War for Cybertron (since I know you read the last article right???) was a Snag, then you know the answer:

SNAG

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go on eBay to buy Transformers figures while listening to “The Touch” on repeat for an hour.  Rollout!!!

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