If there’s any third party that’s having a “killer” year, it’s Activision. Just look at their line-up. Comic book fans will be satisfied with The Amazing Spider-Man; first-person nuts will thoroughly enjoy Call of Duty: Black Ops II, families can endure with Skylanders: Giants; and old-schoolers can huddle around the TV for sessions of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
At E3 2012 in Los Angeles, we just finished taking a look at one title Activision has that is perfect for hardcore fans of the 80’s TV series (and toys) the Transformers. They got a decent game last year with Dark of the Moon, but this year’s effort, Fall of Cybertron, looks to be even more of a triumph. We got down and dirty with Activision's E3 2012 demo, which gave us a chance to try out several sequences to see how it’s shaping up. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed!
The first sequence involves the small but capable Bumblebee and it acts as a tutorial of sorts, introducing you to some of the more familiar control functions. The stage is a big airship that’s flying through space when it suddenly comes under attack by Decepticons. As one of the few Transformers that can actually fight back, Bumblebee scrambles, bringing down the bad bots either with third-person shooting or performing melee attacks, which are surprisingly effective for such a “little guy”.
He can also transform from robot to vehicle (a little speedster) and back again, and we were surprised at how well the controls reacted in both forms with plenty of firepower no matter which way you go (the speedster was a personal favorite). This level ended with Bumblebee taking a crucial bullet for Optimus Prime, keeping the leader of the Autobots alive while those around him were seeking help.
The next sequence put us in control of a multi-function Decepticon vehicle, one that could transform from jet to helicopter back to robot with just a click of the analog stick. All three functions are excellent, and you’ll use them in the stage to fight Autobot defenses, both in large turrets and a number of robots on the ground.
We switched to helicopter mode and circled around the turrets until you destroy them with missiles, which was a lot of fun. From there, we hit the ground running with a pulse rifle, with the option to look through a scope for more accuracy. After that ,we tripped some crucial switches, activating a space bridge that your fellow Decepticon can take out with missiles. It’s a teamwork sort of thing.
Following that stage, we were reintroduced to Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, as he charges through a battlefield, leading his fellow bots into battle with an armada of Decepticons. This is a great stage in its own right, as Optimus not only packs a nasty pulse rifle that turns robots into piles of smoldering metal. If that's not enough oomph, you also command Metroplex, a huge, hulking Autobot that can destroy big structures throughout the city, with just a press on the controller. It’s a shame we don’t get to control him directly like a huge mecha-Godzilla, but he’s a sight to behold.
Finally, we got to take control of the “big guy” of the group, Grimlock, and if you’ve been a long time fan of the Transformers series, this will be a swell reward for you. He’s voiced by Gregg Berger, the actor who portrayed him in the cartoons, and he definitely sounds the part as he thrashes through Insecticons using his sword and shield. Even though he doesn’t have a gun, he’s quite effective in combat, and can trash even bigger ones with the right amount of dodging and striking.
The coolest thing happens when you build up enough “rage” energy, which then allows you to transform into the mighty T-Rex form, enabling you to use your tail to smash enemies, grab them and bite them using a fierce chomping attack (old school!) and breathing fire as you would a gun, melting robots down like they’re nothing.
We would’ve liked to have played more segments from the game, and perhaps even seen some multiplayer in action (yes, it’s back and you can modify characters better than before, even with chrome options), but for now, Activision has definitely delivered with High Moon Studios’ latest effort. It’s thrilling to play, just as the original War For Cybertron was, and it looks outstanding with the new Unreal Engine 3 technology in use. Some of these levels are way bigger than any ones we’ve seen before, that’s for sure.
If you’re a fan of the Transformers in any way (even… sigh… the new movies), Fall of Cybertron will be a must-own when the game arrives in late August.