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?