ÿLast month, IGN’s own Hilary Goldstein wrote about Transformers: War for Cybertron, set to release for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this June. The ambitious action romp is developed by High Moon Studios, best known for the stylized first-person shooter Darkwatch and more recently The Bourne Supremacy. And it has very little in common with any Michael Bay helmed Transformers movies, as we recently learned when publisher Activision demoed several portions of the game from a private suite in Las Vegas psp games.
In a cinematic cut-scene, Bumblebee races alongside a destroyed path directly through the middle of the Autobots’ capital city of Iacon as Decepticon drones give chase. He turns and cuts them down and then transforms, but several more drones appear. Out of nowhere comes Optimus Prime — his trademark red and blue design immediately recognizable within the carnage — and blows several pursuers out of the sky before screeching to a halt on the pavement. He dons no trailer — it’s not in the game.
“You’re a skilled fighter, but you shouldn’t be out here alone,” he says. “Ratchet, this Autobot needs repairs.”
The yellow Transformer declines. “There’s no time. I need to find the autobot called Optimus.”
We learn that Zeta Prime is dead and that the high council has gone into hiding, its forces completely directionless.
“The council will emerge when it’s safer. In the meantime, Ratchet, Bumblebee — you’re with me,” says Optimus.
This is how Bumblebee and Optimus Prime meet. It’s at the tail end of a robot war that has been waging for millions of years on Cybertron, the home planet of the Transformers and a location not often explored in previous media — whether TV, movie, comic or videogame — based on the universe. It is the entire setting for High Moon Studios’ new title, which precedes the robot adventures on Earth.
Click on Optimus to watch the intense new trailer
For the developer, the setting was intriguing from the start because it remained so mysterious throughout the years. “What were the Transformers like before they came to Earth? This is something we think old and new fans are interested in,” says game director Matt Tieger, who hopes the team has succeeded in offering further insight and layering depth atop the famous robots. “We’re telling a lot of character relationships that have never been explored before.”
The story spans two campaigns — one for the Decepticons and another for the Autobots — and strives to explain the relationship between the two factions without demonizing any of the so-called bad guys. Even the good guys are not exactly as they seem. For example, Optimus Prime begrudgingly takes on the role of Autobots leader after he realizes that nobody else is capable. And Megatron is not evil incarnate, but misguided — he believes that Cybertron has fallen from grace and seeks to restore the planet to its former glory by any means possible, even a brutal war.
The game controls kind of like Gears of Wars, but there’s no cover system.
The Decepticon campaign is a prequel to the Autobots one, but they can be played out of order if you prefer. According to Tieger, the setup works perfectly because you first wreak havoc as the Decepticons, unsettling the balance of power, and then you come in as the Autobots when all seems lost and fight to undo the damage. “The bad guy hatches an evil plot to take over universe. Then the good guy resets balance of power back to neutral,” he says.
Where graphics are concerned, High Moon Studios has unabashedly stayed true to some winning conventions. The title runs on the Unreal 3 engine, which allows for gigantic, detailed environments and equally enormous robots complete with gritty realism. “There have been some significant challenges in making an all-metal world,” says Tieger, but the presentation generally satisfies. The city is very interactive. You will often see citadels crumbling in the background as the battle intensifies and as you ride never-ending elevators down into the planet’s core, you will marvel at the scope of it all. Indeed, in a boss fight with Omega Supreme, you strafe around a huge arena as the truly epic enemy shoots missiles your way — you’re about as tall as the ball of Omega’s ankle. It all looks pretty good. Still, if you were to ask us to describe the style, there’s no getting around the fact that War for Cybertron looks like an Unreal-engine game with Transformers, for better and worse.