Go, Bots! War For Cybertron Explained

By Alec Meer on March 11th, 2010 at 8:11 pm.

I’ve only had passing interest in the upcoming Transformers shooty-mcthumpy game War For Cybertron until now, but something about the previews that hit various sites earlier this week, and especially the below video – the first significant chunk of in-game footage to date – has awakened NERD-HUNGER in me. The environments look big and detailed, the robots are an excellent hybrid of 80s blocks’n'colours and intricate machinery and the combat looks varied… oh, who am I kidding? The reason I’m excited is because I recognise all the damned characters. Optimus! Ironhide! Ratchet! Megatron! Soundwave! Trypticon! Omega Supreme! I could go on. I did, in fact, but it started to look a bit scary, so I deleted half the names I’d written. You must not peek inside my brain of shame. Especially the bit that thought “the DLC for this game is going to be awesome.

I’m not at high enough a level of excitement that I’m going to fall to my knees and scream “Primus, why hast thou forsaken me?” at the heavens if this is no good, but I do have a growing sense that there’s no way it can be akin to the soulless cash-grabs that were the movie-related games. For one, the emphasis seems square on combat rather than mangled racing. For another, though by apparently forgoing an open world structure it could be said to be playing it safe, I think it’s the right decision. Quality not quantity and all that: it can focus on getting the basics right instead of trying to be all things to all men-children.

Batman: Arkham Asylum did something similar, and that was a major part of why it felt so darn-tootin’ tight. I can only hope that relatively unproven devs High Moon Studios are taking a similar mechanics first, gloss second approach. It’s unclear how much time they’ve had to make this thing, but surely there’s been more months and resources than those charmless movie games.

A host of sites have thrown up previews of the game from GDC that are worth reading for a clearer picture of how it all works. Activision have steadfastedly refused to acknowledge RPS’s existence all these long years, so I don’t fancy my chances of taking a look at it before the June launch – but hey, at least it’s not long to wait. I bet every gaming site/mag in the known world bar us will be sent free toys, though. Bah. BAH.

The key points, though, are that it’s played in groups of three Autobots or Decepticons – optionally co-op, and drop in/out too, with AI controlling any playerless bots. Transforming is unlimited, there are collectable weapons (which meld with whichever character picks them up, and auto-transform to reflect the robot’s design), and the bots are class-based rather than simply being big one, small one, flying one, driving one and so forth. So Optimus is a brawler, Ratchet heals and Bumblebee hides at the back and shoots stuff. Walker must not be allowed to play as Ratchet. So, it could be a lovely little team game as well as a fine-looking singleplayer action thinger.

Can’t believe Soundwave turns into a bloody truck, though. Have they no respect?

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64 Comments »

  1. Heliocentric says:

    On dlc. I agree. I can’t wait to see what content they cut from the game to sell it to us again… Oh snap.

  2. Reverend Speed says:

    …did Soundwave turn into a truck? Didn’t see that.

    *watches again, with face dripping grin*

  3. Guy Cole says:

    Best Transformers game so far (imo) is the PS2 job from 2004. That had a huge, open world with a nice chain of mission targets that meant you never felt lost or unsure what to do while still giving you the freedom to attack your objectives from different directions. Sort of like Far Cry 2.
    It was also highly respectful of the IP, and chose its cast sensibly and logically, and had an interesting mechanic allowing you to swap hero characters if you wanted to, each one bringing distinct qualities to the gameplay.
    The thing about it is, that it’s a great game in its own right, regardless of the licensing. They could have made it Hello Kitty or something daft, and it still would have rocked. The giant stompalicious robots thing is just the icing on the cake, as opposed to a lot of licensed shit that relies on the monuments of the IP to ‘be’ the game. Do check it out, it’s awesome.

  4. Dain says:

    Kane lives!

  5. KingCathcart says:

    This is all very well but when are we going to see a Gobots games? I miss Pumper, Dumper and Hans-Cuff.

  6. Specner says:

    I’m confused, and hopefully it’s not because I just don’t know enough about Transformers or this game. But this takes place on Cybertron, their homeplanet, right?

    So why do they still look like Earth-based vehicles? Shouldn’t they be in their natural forms?

    Granted, it doesn’t matter. I’m just honestly curious.

    • Xocrates says:

      I think they mentioned that. It’s a design choice mostly.

      They use forms that are similar enough to their earth forms to be recognizable, while different enough to be called “alien”.

      One can argue they’re too close to the earth forms though.

  7. Mr_Day says:

    You would prefer Soundwave turning into a walkman? In a co-op game? That’d be useful.

    “We need help, get here quic – DO NOT TRANSFORM! Oh, bugger.”

    “Mmmm-bop! Bap de dooo wop!”

    “I hate you.”

  8. RedFred says:

    I still don’t understand the obsession with Transformers. It was a little before my time but that didn’t mean I didn’t know about them when I was young.

    Also the movies were just awful. I mean really really bad.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’m not a fan either, but figuring out why people like it isn’t hard.

      They are giant robots, can turn into trucks, and planes and shit. They fight other giant robots who can turn into trucks and planes and shit.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      Difficult to entirely pin it down. My take (I was 5 when the TRANSFORMERS craze started and 13 when it finally ended, so I fell into its target age bracket, particularly the slightly older children-oriented comics, quite neatly) would be that TRANSFORMERS combined being very cool toys with solid, well-defined characters (by childrens’ standards, remember) and pretty good storylines, mainly in the Marvel comic and the original animated movie. The comics also had a strong myth-arc, which the cartoon series failed to emulate (although later incarnations, such as BEAST WARS, which was after my time, did pick up on it), which was pretty impressive stuff to a young child at the time.

      Pretty much the rest of it now is nostalgia, but granted if you weren’t there for the craze first time round that its appeal might seem a bit odd (same as I never really ‘got’ the toy crazes that came aftwards, like POWER RANGERS and POKEMON).

    • RedFred says:

      Oh don’t get me wrong I can understand why a child would be in to these kinds of things but the obsession that adults seem to have is bizarre to me.

      I adored Lego and GI Joe etc. when I was that age. Doesn’t mean I am going to put stickers on my car of those things now that I am 22.

      There is even a hip-hop group here in New Zealand called Decepticons. COME ON!

      *Shakes head*

    • Vinraith says:

      @RedFred

      Oh don’t get me wrong I can understand why a child would be in to these kinds of things but the obsession that adults seem to have is bizarre to me.

      While I’ve actually never been into Transformers (despite having been exactly the right age at the time) I’m compelled to point out that a lot of people would say the same thing about video games.

    • RedFred says:

      Well yes that is true, however I don’t think that is very comparable.

      Many video games are aimed at an adult market. Transformers were only aimed at children.

    • Spacewalk says:

      We aren’t adults, we are man children.

    • Reverend Speed says:

      @RedFred

      I wouldn’t consider myself obsessed, but I think the attraction is pretty easy to understand.

      They’re Transformers – more than meets the eye. Y’see, Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. And, so, these Transformers – they’re robots in disguise.

      I don’t think I can put it any clearer than that. You either got the touch – the power – or you don’t.

    • Bret says:

      Well, it’s also something people dug as kids that has material that’s, well, tolerably good.

      The most recent cartoon? Alright enough. The old Furman comics? Downright awesome at times.

      And besides, maturity, as the theologian Lewis stated, is not primarily a matter of discarding old interests, but acquiring new ones, and it is rather a pity to assume the former is more important than the latter.

    • Tem says:

      Wait, are you saying you aren’t a transformers fan? (Not the movies, of course)

      Get out.

      OUT.

    • Wulf says:

      Anything that has Weird Al as a giant robot is fine by me.

      I’M WRECK-GAR, I KNOCK THINGS OVER!

  9. Adam Whitehead says:

    Hang on, was that Omega Supreme or just one of many Guardian robots that the Autobots left on Cybertron?

    And why am I even asking that question? Either way, looks interesting.

    • Grunt says:

      I’ve been expecting a car-crash (mild pun fully intended) but this….may….turn out to be pretty decent after all.

      ….More than meets the eye?

  10. HermitUK says:

    Went in sceptical. About the time Bumblebee rolled in I think I was sold.

  11. PHeMoX says:

    Uhm, this is actually a movie-based game as well…

    Transformers 3: War for Cybertron the movie is planned to start filming this May 2010, with a release in July 1st 2011. As always, nothing is quite set in stone, but knowing Transformers 2 was a big commercial success, I have no doubt they will meet these deadlines or come close.

    There’s even rumor talk about the appearance of Unicron.

    • PHeMoX says:

      Also, some people seem to argue the movie’s release is going to be in Summer 2010, but that sounds unlikely.

    • Alec Meer says:

      No, this is not related to the movies in any way.

    • RedFred says:

      Oh so the game could be good then.

      You never know though. The developers might think basing it all around a romance is the right choice in the end.

    • PHeMoX says:

      @Alec Meer: “No, this is not related to the movies in any way.”

      That’s what they say, but early concept art of the 3rd movie (environmental concept art of a robotic planet likely to be Cybertron) and rumors about the storyline does make me believe otherwise.

      I think they claim this for marketing reasons anyway, knowing the last games painfully failed.

      Knowing the 3rd movie will take a while to be released and knowing the 3rd movie it’s storyline isn’t set in stone, this all makes perfect sense.

      I must admit though that a 3rd movie set exclusively on Cybertron is quite unlikely, there must be a tie to planet Earth for obvious reasons.

    • Alec Meer says:

      No, it’s a different fictional universe. Not related to the movies.

    • Bret says:

      In these circumstances, I find it best to trust the guy with the Death’s Head gravatar.

      I’m pretty sure the next (presumably rather poor) film isn’t coming out until 2011, minimum. Hasbro’s readying another cartoon, for Unicron’s sake!

  12. Vague-rant says:

    I preferred transformers when they turned into animals animals… I have a feeling that wouldn’t make a great game though.

    • mandrill says:

      I had a transformer (or one of the many rip offs) that turned into a rock when I was a kid. That game would be worse.

    • ZamFear says:

      @Vague-rant
      Beast wars? There was a game for that.
      Was pretty average as I recall. And the transformations didn’t really get you anything, nullifying the whole point of having Transformers in the first place.
      Nothing wrong with the concept, it was just poorly executed, like so many licensed games.

    • Saul says:

      Sticks’n'Stones! I had that guy. Actually, I think it was a whole line, all different kinds of rocks. They were good for throwing at people, too! Less dangerous than real rocks, but still painful…

    • Bret says:

      Yeah, go-bots rock lords.

      Actually, having browsed car boot sales and the like, a fair number of Go-Bots are kinda nifty. Also, small, and therefore easily concealed if one is attempting to feign greater levels of maturity.

  13. ChaosSmurf says:

    Fuck the game, that bloke really knows how to make it _sound_ awesome. If it’s not shit, I don’t even care, this guy is cool.

    And it _doesn’t look shit_. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON.

  14. Gorgeras says:

    The movies suffer from Michael Bay, but you can tell the writers TRY to make magic shine.

    “Freshman, is that your car?”

    “No it’s my friend’s. He’s gone to get you a tighter shirt.”

    “There are no tighter shirts than this” “We checked.”

  15. Telperion says:

    If for nothing else then I want this game for the 3 player co-op with instantaneous drop-in/out.
    I really want to play co-op, but it feels like I hardly ever get to do that these days.

    Dreams are but a facet of reality.
    Dreams die just like people.

  16. Woges says:

    Is Geoff Senior drawing this issue?

  17. Woges says:

    Simon Furman on words.

  18. NekoDaimyo says:

    Most likely, the best you’ll get is homage characters in a Transformers game. For example, there’s Bug Bite (Actually the Go-Bots character from another universe) and Fracture (Basically the Go-Bot Crasher, in all but name), for example.

  19. Calabi says:

    That guy certainly sounded positive, he was a fan and wanting this game since he was younger and he knew what he was saying, solid game and all that, so this looks extremely promising.

    Just hopefully they have enough time to playtest and complete it properly.

  20. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    LASERBEAK—
    DESTROY!

    • HermitUK says:

      If you can play as Soundwave in the secretive Multiplayer, Laserbeak and Ravage need to be deployable. I’m indifferent about Rumble, though.

    • Catastrophe says:

      Please let Soundwave have deployable Ravage and Laserbeak. Please.

      Not as fussed about the Autobot equivalent as he never seemed half as cool as Soundwave.

  21. Vector Sigma says:

    Bah Weep Graah Weep Nini Bong.

    BAH WEEP GRAnAH WEEP NINI BONG!

    • Mr_Day says:

      It’s the universal greeting. They’ll reciprocate!

    • Catastrophe says:

      Its funny that from all the films I enjoy the lines I can always recall are:

      “Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

      and

      “Bah weep Grah weep nini bong… Bah weep Grahnah weep nini bong!”

  22. NegativeZero says:

    I’m not going to be sold on this until they confirm whether Wheeljack is in it.

  23. Web Cole says:

    Yet more reasons to hate the Actibastards :p

  24. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    Dude if there’s goddamn sharkticons in this I’m going to need to lie down for awhile.

    • Catastrophe says:

      The Sharkticons transformation seemed a little pointless without water…

      “Walk slowly at them with guns!”

      “Strike that… TRANSFORM!”

      “Now walk slowly at them chomping away in a threatening manner! Pacman in slow-mo style!”

  25. Leonard Hatred says:

    as a closet transformers nerd, this game excites me greatly. i’ve been following it’s progress for a while and happily speculating with other ‘transfans’ or ‘sad bastards’ as we like to be called on a variety of forums about what it’s going to be like.

    So to being the non-sad-bastards (although there are varying degrees of sad basterdry, this is a computergames site, it’s all the same to normal people) It’s jump-off point for a new transformers line, there will be toys, and transformers will likely be Ruined Forever. I can’t wait!

  26. Triangulon says:

    OMFG Warpath! Zowie wham bam!
    Looks really good, and I am a generally considered to be a G1 fascist. Soundwave in particular looks awesome. I can’t wait to see what other characters are mentioned.

  27. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I’m actually thinking this may turn out to be a good game. Which comes as a bit of a surprise to me.