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Transformers: War for Cybertron

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: High Moon Studios
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 3; 2 - 10 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

With the recent run of Transformer movies, not only have their been a series of games, but they were movie tie-in games that hardly do the prestigious license justice. Well, Transformers: War for Cybertron is released from the shackles of external licensing conflicts and only has to worry about confining itself to the Generation 1 mythos (a choice the developers themselves made) and providing what the fans of the series have been asking for; a good Transformers game.

Right off the bat, War for Cybertron shows how much care the developers at High Moon Studios put into the game as everything from the robotic planet to the living machines themselves just feel right. While the various robots don't look exactly like their cartoon counterparts, there are enough close similarities to make any fan of the show instantly recognize who the different characters are. What's really interesting is the style and look of the robots in their pre-Earth forms, since you can see definite hints of how they will look after the events of this prequel game.

Audio has enough good qualities about it to overlook some of the more common issues found in shooters. Voice actors are dead-on, and never feel phoned-in. In-game radio chatter sounds good, and I always love hearing Soundwave's resonating monotone voice. In fact, the only real issues I had with this aspect of the game involves some of the overly-used sound clips like that of an enemy robot moaning as he falls, but that would be one of those common shooter issues I mentioned above.


Transformers: War for Cybertron covers the events leading up to the classic animated TV series' start. This is the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons that led to their space voyage and eventual crash landing on Earth. The game is broken up into ten different chapters and shows the events leading up to the Transformers' exodus from Cybertron.

The first half of the game gives you control over the Decepticons as they try for one last push to grant Megatron the power he needs to take full control of the planet. His goal is to hunt down what is called dark energon. This mythical substance introduces him to Starscream, the guardian set on the space station to keep the energon variant safe. When Megatron finally gets his hooks on the substance, Starscream, of course, switches sides and decides to join the Decepticons, a betrayal that is merely the first in a long line for the Transformer.

The Autobot story starts off after the events of the Decepticon campaign and lets you control characters like Optimus, Bumblebee and Ironhide as you recruit new Autobots for the fight and hope to stop the evil that Megatron has started in the Cybertron core. Interestingly enough, while there is a definite order to the game's story, you can start each side's campaign at any point.

Besides the massive single player campaign War for Cybertron presents, there are also quite a few online modes as well. For one, you can play with two other friends in Co-Op mode and trudge your way through the levels in a much more coordinated method than the friendly A.I.'s present.

Outside of Co-Op, the game includes standard modes like Deathmatch (Team or Free-for-All), territory-based games like Conquest and King of the Hill, as well as a mode called Escalation that feels more like a survival mode than anything else. In this game style, you and your teammates are forced to fight off endless waves of enemy characters until you are down for the count. The biggest problem with the game's multiplayer, though, is the lack of players. Maybe most of the people who've bought this game prefer the console versions, or they are just staying offline, but I was rarely able to get a match going, and, unfortunately, there were several of those matches that had technical issues.

As for other technical issues, I did notice a few problems with how the game ran on my rig. I will say that Transformers: War for Cybertron is the first real test my newly-reworked machine has been put to, and for the most part, everything went well. As well it should, since I am well above the listed minimum system requirements. In fact, the only real issues I found involved the pre-rendered videos. There seemed to be some choppy framerates and even a bit of artifacting while the game played these clips. I'm not sure what was going on there, but it wasn't pretty. I did find the game pretty unforgiving when some other window pops up - so make sure you turn off anything that notifies you while playing this game. At one point, I got thrown out of the game while the save file was being updated and I had to start the level over again because of corrupted data. I was not happy with that.


Transformers: War for Cybertron is a solid shooter that scales difficulty primarily on how many shots it takes to stop an enemy and how many hits you can take. I found the game's Easy setting to be fun to just run through, that was even tough in parts, but the two harder settings offered much more of an appealing challenge.

The game really is divided into two different situations. There are the basic running-around-level and taking out waves of enemies, and then there are the boss battles. For the most part, the basic foes are straightforward and getting a good handle on the firepower of your characters and their alternate forms will allow you to stay ahead of the game. Unfortunately, the boss battles feel very scripted and essentially have you running around until you figure out exactly what the weak spot is on the overly-shielded and overly-fire-powered boss. While these parts of the game did feel more challenging, they also bordered on tiresome and repetitive.

Game Mechanics:

Transformers: War for Cybertron really handles being able to switch between your characters' forms well, and in such a way as to not make it seem like an afterthought or a gimmick tied in because the license demanded it. Instead, War for Cybertron tends to expect you to switch between forms while in the middle of a battle, especially if your alternate form has a longer-ranged weapon, or even one with a more powerful blast. There were several times when my trigger finger ran me dry of ammo in both of my weapons and the only thing available to me was my melee attack or the weapon attached to my vehicle form, essentially giving you a third firearm to carry around. Of course, the vehicle more can have other benefits, especially if you are playing as a jet-based character and like to swoop around to deal some damage from the skies.

War for Cybertron is simply a solid third-person shooter that offers a lot for both single player and multiplayer gamers, and while the game might not appeal to non-Transformers fans, that intersection between third-person shooter gamers and fans of the license simply won't want to miss this game.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, Intel Core 2 Duo E43000 or AMD Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core 4000 2 GHz CPU, 2 GB RAM, 9 GB Hard Disc Space, 256MB DirectX 9.0c-compatible NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT or ATI Radeon X1900 video cards (excluding NVIDIA 8400 and Radeon HD2400, HD2600 and HD3450 video cards), 16-bit DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound cards, DVD-ROM 6x

Test System:

Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

Related Links:

Nintendo DS Dragon Ball: Origins 2 Microsoft Xbox 360 Naval Assault: The Killing Tide

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated