When Transformers: War For Cybertron came out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 two years ago, it changed our perception of the series forever.  For the first time in quite a while it didn’t feel like Optimus Prime and company were merely just being “dialed in” for a video game experience.  It felt like the development team, in this case High Moon Studios, had an understanding of what made a Transformers game stand out so much, and they put it to great effect.

As a result, it’s considered one of the better action titles of this generation, with millions of fans clamoring for more, which you’ll be getting sooner rather than later as Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will be making its way to stores on August 28.

At a recent showcase event in Las Vegas, Activision invited us to get a sneak peek at the madness through multiple segments that introduce a variety of improvements to the sequel.  This isn’t just another quick action game like last year’s licensed Dark of the Moon encounter.  It’s a fully realized sequel, one that utilizes the Unreal Engine 3 technology for bigger environments, and one that also introduces a slew of new characters, both old and new – including a fan favorite that’s bound to get everyone riled up.

The first gameplay segment involves a Decepticon named Vortex, a multi-tasking bot that can go from jet to helicopter, then back to jet, then back to robot – and this is all within the same action sequence.  He’s first tasked to shut down some boosters on a large craft, but when that doesn’t work, he’s put into action, blasting Autobot turrets from above before eventually flying in and doing some up-close damage through ground combat.  The way this transitions out with the game’s improved engine is stunning, as it gives you so much to do, and the room to really run around and get it done.

We were taken to another sequence, this time featuring a huge Constructicon-formed beast that was capable of running through, well, just about anything that you put in front of it.  The highlight of this sequence is being able to run through everything, like Godzilla through Tokyo, using lasers, missiles and just plain stomping around.

It’s quite satisfying watching Autobot forces get laid to waste so easily, and then blowing up a building just for the sake of knocking it off its foundation.  Sadly, we were only shown about a minute or so of this footage, but we’re expecting so much more once the final game rolls around.  Maybe it could even be introduced in multiplayer...

The next game showed off the versatility that each character brings to the picture with the re-introduction of Jazz.  In this stage he has to move through a multi-tiered structure while Decepticon snipers attempt to pick him off.  Jazz has to use a high-tech whip of sorts to move from area to area out of the range of the Decepticons before pulling out his own sniper rifle and effectively picking them off.  This stage moved a little fast for us but High Moon Studios assured us that we would have smooth controls within our reach, and it wouldn’t be difficult to replicate the actions that the demo displayed.

The next stage had the familiar leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, taking the stage for his segment -- a full-blown battle through Cybertron’s main hall that had him transforming from rig back to robot while shooting at enemies and commanding the mighty Metroplex, a city-sized Autobot, in the distance.

While targeting a particular structure he can yell commands at Metroplex to destroy it, effectively knocking back the Decepticon cause.  At the same time, Optimus can also stop by a computerized shop to upgrade and purchase new weapons, including an electricity-shooting gun that can stun a Decepticon and make him crumble to pieces.  This segment was easily one of our favorites, not only because Prime was in it, but because how quickly you can shift between commanding Metroplex and doing damage on your own terms.

Finally there’s the new character that will no doubt be a huge draw to fans everywhere – Grimlock. Activision went all out to get his design down, going so far as to bring in Gregg Berger, the original voice of the character from the classic Transformers animated series.  You’re first introduced to him in a Decepticon interrogation lab where Starscream, being as egotistical as ever, taunts him and explains how he should be working for him.  By tapping on a few buttons, you’re able to free Grimlock and do some chaotic damage.

This is proven in the second part of the stage where you do damage to smaller Insecticons as your fellow Dinobot Snarl watches in captivity.  It’s here that you’re introduced to Grimlock’s attack style which is more brutal than usual with his sword and shield instead of a gun.  Once he builds up enough juice he can transform into a fire-breathing T-Rex, destroying everyone in his path not only with projectile use but also his tail.  You should see how quickly enemies get knocked back with that thing.  It’s amazing.

That was it for our demo, and High Moon Studios explained that multiplayer would return.  While they didn’t show it in action, they did highlight the classes that would be involved, and how you can customize them using any sort of matte or paint finish.  With literally dozens of options available, you should be able to find a proper tone to your liking.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron looks like it’s come a long way over the original game, and we’ll be getting our hands on it soon enough at E3, as far as we know.  Be sure to check back for more impressions, along with a few Grimlock impressions for good measure.

“Me Grimlock no bozo! Me king!”