War For Cybertron: Cheaty Demo Impressions

We captured this from a trailer yonks ago. This is how games journalism works now: publishers won't release screenshots, so we take grabs from trailers and thus run lower-quality screenshots instead. Everybody wins! Except for everybody.

‘Cheaty’ because there isn’t a PC demo as yet, so this is all based on the 360 version. I’m currently trying to get hold of PC review code for the new Transformers game, due for release this week, but Activision UK’s continued refusal to acknowledge RPS means I’ll probably have to buy a copy myself on release day, and thus can’t waggle my finger of judgement until some time after purchasing D-day. I can at least offer a few comments based upon said demo.

I can also make this noise – CHK-CHK-chk-chkchk. No, that’s rubbish. Doesn’t sound anything like a Transformer transforming. Go on, you do it instead.

Bullet-points if you please, maestro:

  • Visually, it’s like a parody of what we briefly referred to as next-generation games. So muted, so brown, so cheerless. The robot designs are fun, a likeable halfway house between the chunk-o-vision of Generation 1 Transformers and the spiky, insectoid Bayformers. Trouble is, they’re swamped and rendered homogenous by the palette. I’m not entirely sure why the devs made such a big deal about it being reverential to the 80s bots if they’re then going to rip the iconic visual primary colours out of it in favour of bland-o-vision. I’m hoping the PC version will permit a little more sparkle, however. If not, I’ll tweak every graphics card setting I can find to bump up the saturation.
  • The multiplayer’s based around unlocks, and is exactly as faddish and uninspried as you’d expect. Minor stat boosts and swap-out abilities, all meaning that you care more about what you might get given at the end of a match than you do the match itself. I’m not necessarily that opposed to such systems, but it’s particularly irksome here because there’s this beautiful promise of designing your own bot, when really it’s just about allocating unlocks.
  • The basic combat’s a good time. There’s sniping, but the map layout and number of players is such that campers can’t dominate – fights pretty much have to get close-range and dirty, which is where it feels best. The big silly clang of metal men lamping each other, and all that – c’mon, don’t we want that element so much more than we want more shooty-bang-bag? The melee’s a little light of touch, but seems, in the one-map multiplayer demo at least, to be ritually employed as a finishing move. There’s a noticeable lack of picking up big bits of scenery and lobbing it at people, alas.
  • Vehicle modes are comically slow. Necessary to keep the combat semi-close range as discussed, but it raises logical issues. Why would these robots bother to turn into cars and tanks and whatnot if they can’t travel any quicker than when in robot form? Pretty silly. In general, the vehicle modes seem to chuck out more damage and soak up a few more hits, but anti-vehicle rocket launchers do make short work of them. Obviously the community will work out tactics, but in my hour or so with the demo, people generally stayed in robot form. A Transformers game without much transforming? Erk. Hopefully it comes into play more in singleplayer.
  • Talking about what I liked is harder, and not just because I’m a miserable, whiny, bitter ex-fanboy. It’s also because, well, (again, going only on the demo) it’s a fun a game about robots killing each other in small arenas. Nothing felt new or different despite the giant robotiness (not that the gigantism was ever conveyed, but that’s understandable given it’s set on a planet occupied only by giant robots), but despite being a bit grumpy about its ordinariness, I definitely wanted to keep playing and keep smashing Megatronalikes around the chops. Or did I just want to unlock new abilities? Hmm. I am weak and needy, after all.
  • The best bit, with quiet inevitablility, was hearing Peter Cullen as the announcer for the Autobots. That made it feel like Transformers; without it, it may not have done.

Again, all of this is based on a one map, four character, multiplayer-only demo. I wasn’t wowed, but I wasn’t driven into the blood-red mists of infinite fury either. I actually have mid-to-high hopes for the singleplayer, where I’ll have purpose beyond high scores and ranks, and can helplessly geek out over various character cameos.

So, there’ll be a WIT probably early next week so long as I can get hold of a code in a timely enough fashion. If I can’t, I likely won’t bother as it won’t be much help as buying advice after that point. Either way, we’ll definitely be wanting to hear what you merry onlookers think.


  1. Iain says:


    That’s how I always remembered Transformers transforming sounding like. Though it has been a decade or more since I saw the movie.

  2. Cradok says:

    I was also pretty unimpressed with the demo, but I’m still going to get the game. For one, I’m not a fan of unlockable progression multiplayer, not a fan of shooter multiplayer with a controller, and not much of a fan of deathmatch, so I was always going to dislike the demo to a large degree anyway, and for two, well, it’s Transformers.

  3. YogSo says:

    I guess an Optimus Prime-Mighty-Thumbs-Of-Verdict is out of the question for this one ’cause of conflict of interests and all that legal mumbo-jumbo

  4. Alex Hopkinson says:

    Hmm. The scout moves significantly faster in vehicle mode and the soldier slightly faster. Obviously the boost helps in both cases.

    I found the scout to particularly enjoyable, which was rather surprising.

  5. Alex Hopkinson says:

    Oh, and I saw a lot of transforming between modes in the ridiculous amount of time I put into the demo before I made myself stop.

  6. frosty840 says:

    I really do want to get this, but ActiTravesty aren’t getting any of my fucking money.

  7. Gentacle says:

    I just want impressions tomorrow on the PC game if it comes out. No digital distribution sites are hawking it at all so that’s rather worrisome. It makes me paranoid that they dropped MP from the PC version or something else and are trying to dump it onto the unsuspecting masses

  8. MadMatty says:

    haha the sound from the origanal cartoon is cool as fuck- but later reincarnations didnt sound that funky- lets hopethey manage the balancing isssues as the basic premise of Trnasformers is begginbg for a cool game-

    Fanboy – Admittedly

  9. Thiefsie says:

    bah weep gra na weep ninny bong

  10. Sharkticon says:

    “No review code, Activision? This is bad comedy.”

    I definitely agree that this Cybertron needs more colours. I’m hoping for a texture mod or colour mod or something. I’m also hoping for a G1 sounds mod so that I can play with the 80’s transforming sound.

    I do hope this turns out to be more than Gears of War in a TF skin. Otherwise it can proceed on its way to oblivion.

  11. Demon Beaver says:

    If Activision is boycotting RPS, I’m boycotting their game!!!
    So there!

  12. DMJ says:

    RPS does not need Activision. Activision needs to learn its place in the grand scheme of things before the Hive Mind is forced to notice its lack of cooperation.

  13. Grunt says:

    Hmmmmmm. Sounds very much like this is going to be the best game of Transformers ever made, but not the Transformers game we all want in our heads. I’m happy enough to accept that middle ground, though. Being a dyed in the wool Transformers fan certainly teaches you how to ‘make-do’ when Hasbro get ‘creative’.

    I’ve pre-ordered, and somehow fooled myself into thinking the game was coming out this week rather than next – bah! I’m really excited to get my teeth into it!!!

    I’ll tell you one of the best Transformers gaming experiences I ever had – Unreal Tournament (’99). Back then there were a fine range of home-made TF character models, so I’d downloaded everything I could find and slid it into the game. Back then you could also customise your characters and lists to an amazing degree so it was a breeze to set up Autobot vs Decepticon Team Deathmatches, which I did on many an occasion. One game, I was defending a corridor in Capture the Flag when none other than Megatron comes rushing at me. I squealed with what I will call ‘delight’ but before I could bring my flak cannon to bear I heard a minigun rattling off directly to my right. I turn and there’s Jazz blazing away like he just don’t care, yo. The thrill that went through me at that moment has always stayed with me. This is why I’m still such a huge fan at the tender age of 35: Transformers RULE.

  14. Tarn says:

    I’d perhaps foolishly been hoping this would be the Batman: Arkham Aslyum of Transformers games, but it sounds like it might miss the mark a bit.

    One day, one day…

    • Sharkticon says:

      You mean a TF game with loads of “context sensitive” button presses and mindless QTE based combat? No thanks.

      Arkham Asylum may have treated the Batman license well but gameplay wise its a turd.

  15. Samattack says:

    Found it on Steam link to store.steampowered.com , but I don’t see an option to purchase it anywhere. Anyone else from Europe able to buy it?

  16. Mr Ak says:

    Hmmm. You did notice that holding down (REDACTED [I forget]) in vehicle mode made you go faster, didn’t you? It’s never explained, and easy enough to miss.

    But I otherwise agree. The main thing the demo indicated is that the game will probably not be completely and totally awful.

    Which is actually enough for me.

  17. terry says:

    No temperature-sensitive panels to rub to check out my bot’s allegiance? Pffft!

  18. Samattack says:

    link to youtube.com

    The end credits for the game, featuring music by Stan Bush!

  19. Henry Turner says:

    By paying attention to their non-PC demo you’re playing straight into their hands, and allowing them to dictate terms. I thought you called yourselves journalists.

  20. Tarn says:

    I loved the B:AA gameplay myself. If it represents turd levels of gameplay, then I’d hate to hear what you think of most other games. :)

    I was actually referring to the way the game made you ‘feel like Batman’.

  21. dtgreen says:

    A total conversion of Team Fortress 2 would do nicely. :)

  22. WindupHarlequin says:

    I sincerely hope someone mods this to include Junkbots and Weird Al’s “Dare to be Stupid”.

  23. wererogue says:

    It’s not really brown, but it is a homogenous blue-grey, especially the decepticons.

    Also, made so much better here: link to youtube.com

    • Christian Otholm says:

      I had no interest in it, until I heard that version. And then all my interest disappeared as soon as I realised that was fan-made.

  24. Catastrophe says:

    Isnt it “Eeee uh uuhh uuh uh”.

    Anyways is the Xbox Multiplayer include Co-OP missions and is it Split screen?

  25. Sharkticon says:

    “the way the game made you ‘feel like Batman’.”

    Therein lies the problem. Him being Batman doesn’t mean combat has to be a one button QTE with the occasional counter/etc. I can understand that combat with normal thugs has to be ‘easy’ and all, but they could have at least made it interesting and deep. Also, does the essense of being Batman include being able to grapple onto only a very limited list of surfaces and/or gargoyles?

    Imagine Arkham Asylum with the control depth of say, Severance or even PoP: Warrior Within or the first Splinter Cell, and the ‘grapplability’ of Just Cause 2. Give the players a deep and interesting combat/gadget/interaction system, and leave out context senstive/QTE nonsense. The game certainly wasn’t badly made/produced, just badly designed.

    My biggest fear with TF: WFC (and many cross platform games in general), is that the levels will be designed so as to be easily playable with a console controller. I’m particularly scared that they won’t make full use of the levels with aircraft/flying characters.

    • Sharkticon says:

      Gah that was supposed to be in reply to Tarn.

    • Tarn says:

      Heh, neither of us doing too well with the whole ‘replying’ thing, then. :P

      I found Batman to be one of the best designed games of the year, in that it never really got in the way of my enjoyment.

      However, this may be due to be preferring a fairly easy-to-moderate level of challenge, particularly in story-based games. Harsh difficulty really kills story-based games, especially if I’m supposed to be playing a hero, let alone a superhero. I do appreciate that many people prefer a firm challenge, though.

      I do agree with you about the grappling, though – a more flexible Just Cause 2 style grappling would have been amazing. It could still have had ‘gargoyle’ style bits that gave you extra options, perhaps, but being able to grapple onto ANYTHING, even if it gave you less maneuverability, would have been great fun.

      Don’t agree about Warrior Within, though – the seemingly arbitrary combos in that became far too complex for my liking. It felt more like a memory game of trying to recall all the different button presses rather than anything resembling actually controlling an acrobat.

      I thought Batman hit a nice mid-spot between Warrior Within complexity and Ass Creed-style “hold down this button to complete the game” simplicity.

      Right, let’s see if this reply goes where it’s supposed to…

    • neems says:

      I actually really enjoyed Batman, right up to the point where I just got bored and wandered off, never to return. I don’t know, it all seemed very nice, and then it still seemed very nice, then it was still nice, but a little samey… it just didn’t seem like it was going anywhere “shrug”.

  26. neems says:

    More importantly, been looking around a bit, there have been a couple of reviews, War for Cybertron sounds like it might actually be good. However…

    Minor caveat: pc options are apparently limited to resolution, texture quality and v-synch, a la Wolverine (another rather entertaining game).

    Major caveat: apparently, you cannot remap the keys, which is interesting to say the least. And a deal breaker for me at least, as I use the cursor keys for movement. Presumably I could use a game pad for the campaign, but there’s no way I could use it for multiplayer. It is based on Unreal though, so hopefully the controls can be hacked through ini files (Dead Space had issues with reserved keys if memory serves).

    It’s a shame, as I was actually getting my hopes up for a moment.

  27. Zaphyra says:

    I’m pretty sure that’s universal greeting. Look it up on a Transformers wiki.