You suffered through three movies of Shia LaBeouf’s bollocks portrayal of a man running away from robots. You sat there while two entirely interchangeable actresses jogged along with him, pouting at the camera in a black hole of characterisation. You watched three dudebro soldiers douche bag their way through endless explosions as they eliminated all meaning from the term ‘comic relief’. Here’s why you let Michael Bay take £30 of your money on disgustingly overpriced cinema tickets: you wanted to see Optimus Prime and Megatron batter the shit out of each other. You needed just the smallest amount of validation for your years of loyalty to Transformers, for your dusty toy collections, memories of Orson Welles’ booming voice-acting and limitless devotion to the mythology. Fall Of Cybertron is clearly made by people who want to bring the best of Transformers to the people that love it – a high-end third-person shooter that extrapolates all the best bits of the property for your pleasure.
Fundamentally, Fall Of Cybertron is a third-person shooter that uses transforming as a hook. You may remember the well-received but somewhat repetitious War For Cybertron, released in 2010, to which this is a direct sequel, yet it’s far more experimental with the way it uses the licence. Most of the major Autobot and Decepticons are playable within the story, along with a couple of pleasing oddities, like Dinobot leader Grimlock, who transforms in a giant, angry T-Rex to apply an aggressive prehistoric beatdown.
As the title implies, Cybertron is in a bit of disrepair, and the battle over its future is pretty much the driving force of the campaign. It’s a grand depiction of this key moment in the Transformers timeline. Where the passion really lies is in how each Transformer is specifically tailored to the gameplay – Bumblebee will drive between locations as he’s bombarded with gunfire or Vortex manoeuvres through giant environments in an extravagant helicopter form, for example. And these are just the early levels: they all bring a little something different to the chunky shooter format, and these surprises are appropriately paced apart from each other.
It’s an absolute nostalgia fest, and the fact that you can play it without necessarily being sat in cover for hours at a time is a refreshing reverse of current genre conventions, which have become needlessly saddled by such restrictive design philosophies. Fall Of Cybertron is big and silly, which of course works in its favour.
Ordinarily, a third-person shooter like this would still get a star less from us – but the fan service is just so relentless and the variety in using this universe so inspired that we can’t see how any Transformers fan will feel let down by High Moon’s effort on Fall Of Cybertron. It’s a worthy translation of Transformers into a videogame paradigm, and that’s pretty much the highest praise we can give any licensed tie-in.