Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Hands-on Preview

High Moon Studios has created its own world in the Transformers franchise.

Cybertron, the home of the warring robots, was at one time something of an automaton utopia, before the Autobots and Decepticons ravaged it with their conflict. Last time High Moon took us to the planet, it was in Transformers: War for Cybertron, a game that stands as something of a prequel to the Michael Bay movie franchise. To create it, the developer worked with toy company Hasbro and helped develop a new continuity all their own, and the result was a solid Transformers title and a competent third-person shooter.

Back again we go to the home of the Transformers in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, another chance for High Moon to flex some creative muscles in a well-loved franchise. The developer says it has learned from the criticisms its first Cybertron title was met with, and has worked to make this new game even truer to the robots toys found at its heart. We got a chance to play a little bit of Fall of Cybertron at Activision’s Pre-E3 2012 press briefing a few weeks back.

It’s still early yet, so we’ll be reserving any heavy judgments of Fall of Cybertron until we’ve had a chance to play the full game. I actually spent quite a bit of time with High Moon’s first Transformers outing, War for Cybertron, and was pretty impressed with the title back in 2010. That game was a decent enough third-person shooter that did the admirable job of meeting the franchise expectations of players. It feels like a Transformers game, something licensed titles often struggle with. But it also didn’t bring too much that made it unique — players could transformer liberally between characters’ robot and vehicle forms to mix up combat, but there was never too much incentive or freedom to do so. You might switch into Bumblebee’s car form to take on some bad guys mid-fight, but it didn’t drastically change things except that you were given access to different weapons and that you might move a little faster around a given arena.

In Fall of Cybertron, High Moon Studio Head Peter Della Penna told Game Front that the developer is putting more emphasis on transformation, and on giving players the ability to attack problems in a variety of different ways. I tried three levels of Fall of Cybertron — the game’s opening stage in which I played as Autobat Bumblebee; a later, more open level in which I was a flying Decepticon called Vortex; and finally, a portion of the stage that introduces Grimlock, one of the Dinobots.

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