Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron review

Robots in disguise. They sure have been: disguised for aeons as tween-licious Michael Bay‘blockbusters’ and duff videogame tie-ins. 2010 shooter War For Cybertron went some way to righting past wrongs, so does this sequel complete the most remarkable transformation since Ugly Betty had her braces removed?

Well: yes. This is a fanboy’s dream. There’s Prime’s stoic heroism, Jazz’s élan, Bumblebee’s self-sacrifice, Starscream’s Machiavellian antics, Grimlock’s angst, Soundwave’s servitude… Transformers has always boasted a Shakespearian zinger of a cast for a kids’ ‘toon, and they’re reverentially brought to life (and death) here.

War For Cybertron thrilled in parts, but its blockbuster feel was issued via scale and setting rather than obvious party pieces. Fall Of Cybertron, in contrast, effortlessly oozes the same feel – bringing out the big guns (quite literally, in the case of the monstrous Metroplex and Bruticus) to flex its ‘whoa’-moment muscle.

Again, fans will be enraptured – High Moon having captured both the heart and soul of the series. There’s no cover to lurk behind as such, but the transformation abilities and extensive environments mean you’re encouraged to regularly flit between robot and vehicle forms to hunt down and eradicate your enemies. It’s a third-person shooter Jim, but not quite as we know it.

Frustratingly, though, the core shooting is never anything less than plain ‘decent’. Improvements abound – War’s iffy checkpointing is gone, ammo is more bounteous, and there’s a neat upgrade/perk system and a plentiful supply of munitions ‘shops’. It’s just a shame that – Grimlock, Bruticus and Megatron sections aside – you never quite feel like you’re tearing metal and rending rubber the way you’d hope, especially since most of the fighting takes place from afar. Spurting sparks and oil as gore? That’s one potential solution, but we’re aware of how tricky it must be for High Moon to appease its insanely diverse audience, ranging from almost-teens through to sad old G1 fanboys like, er, me.

And diverse FOC certainly is – with High Moon proving extraordinarily imaginative when it comes to breaking up the potentially staid gameplay. One minute you’re screeching across gigantic Unreal Engine-authored maps as Prime, the next you’re sneaking about with stealthy Cliffjumper.