Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Hands-on Preview

New Additions

The third level we saw involved Grimlock and a new backstory developed by High Moon, with Hasbro’s blessing. For people unfamiliar, Grimlock is one of a group of Autobots that have dinosaur transformation forms rather than vehicles. But since the Transformers are still on Cybertron, they haven’t encountered things Earth lifeforms like dinosaurs — so Grimlock’s dinosaur form, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, isn’t something the Transformers should have a reference for.

The explanation, then, is that the Dinobots got their forms because they were a sort of mad scientist experiment by the Decepticon Shockwave. We didn’t see too much of the story surrounding Grimlock’s origin, but we did play him shortly in one level apparently following Shockwave’s experiments on him.

Grimlock is a melee character, which makes playing him a great deal different from the other Transformers. In the level we played, we had to fight off a number of spider-like Insecticons, using fast dash maneuvers to avoid attacks and fighting back with a big sword. Smashing lots of enemies filled up a special bar on Grimlock’s heads-up display, which eventually allowed him to transform into his Rex version. When playing as Grimlock, transforming can’t be triggered whenever, it has to be earned. Once you trigger it, though, you get a big power boost in dinosaur form and can ravage enemies.

The Grimlock portion ended rather quickly after first triggering T-Rex form and killing a group of Insecticons, but we also saw a little bit of what it’ll be like to play as Optimus Prime. As mentioned before, Fall of Cybertron puts a lot more emphasis on each Transformer’s abilities — it seems that Optimus will have the ability to do things like call in artillery strikes in at least one large outdoor level.

Triggering those artillery strikes will be possible because Optimus will be able to communicate with and issue orders to Metroplex, a huge Autobot that towers over the battlefield. The level we saw during the hands-off demo High Moon showed included a massive battle with Metroplex in the background and Optimus issuing orders at various intervals.

Improvements to a Working Formula

We didn’t get to play very much of Fall of Cybertron, but what we did play seemed promising. High Moon’s design philosophy for their next Transformers game seems like it could improve on the formula it created with War for Cybertron. The third-person shooter framework seems mostly unchanged, and the additions to the game are going to focus on things that take advantage of the Transformers franchise — things like specific abilities for different Transformers and level designs that make use of vehicle transformations much more often.

That said, the portions we played during our hands-on time were very short and seemed a little more interesting on paper than in person. Of course, all we were given was the smallest taste of Fall of Cybertron — but the portions we previewed felt a little too generic, even with the changes in place. I’m hoping we’ll see more levels with multiple solutions and less time spent with run-of-the-mill third-person shooter elements. It seems like High Moon has the groundwork in place, but we’ll have to wait to see if it can deliver on its promises. As usual, though, the Transformers license is being well treated by High Moon’s efforts.

Game Front is on-site at E3 2012 all weekend (June 5-7), bringing you daily news, hands-on previews, interviews and pictures. Stay tuned for more PC gaming-focused coverage!

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