Some franchises come in a bag of bees – mess them around and you’ll get a face full of venomous pins, treat them with a care and attention approaching love and you’ll get the sweetest of honeys. Transformers is, clearly after that last sentence, one such franchise. It’s not hard to see why – robots that can transform with the fluidity of a Mazda MX hard top folding its roof down, into cars, bikes, jet planes, tanks and damn well anything else metallic your average ten year old boy is gonna love can’t fail to pick up some dogged admirers.
And for every man-child out there who once had a thing for the sons of Cybertron the good news is that High Moon Studios has come at this particular sack of stingers with a mother’s love. The third person shooter, Transformers: War For Cybertron, goes back to pre-80s cartoon Transformers, back to when the Autobots and Decepticons battled for their home planet, to fill in the gaps in Transformers history. Split into two separate tales, you play as both factions in a detailed, immersive plot that feels like the writers knew their subject matter and were into it as much as any fan.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously either; playing through as the Decepticons has its chuckles, Megatron’s mock terror of the cannon fodder Autobots and Starscream and Skywarp’s little digs at each other spring to mind, but there’s enough depth to the story to have you involved all the way through. Playing as the Decepticons will roll you along a story that clues you in as to why Starscream has beef with Megatron in the war with the Autobots. Over five chapters, you blast your way through Autobots big and small, named and nameless, fighting your way to Megatron's perceived weapon that will win the war. Before or after that you can play as the Autobots, following a Peter Cullen voiced Optimus Prime as he becomes the last of the Primes, leader of the Autobots.
All of this really means that as far as fans of Transformers are concerned this game is an absolute must. If the gameplay were half as good as the story they’d be tearing holes in forums screaming about how this game is a ten out of ten. Lucky for them the gameplay is solid. Right from the off the weapons are hefty buggers, Megatron’s cannon arm packs a sweet punch that’s hard to put down, as do some of the rapid fire weapons you pick up. The melee attacks come in handy in close combat, flattening opponents in one clanging wallop, and then there are the fierce turret guns you can tear from their casings and carve bots up left right and centre. One of the game’s truly disappointing moments comes when you realize you can’t transform into a car and keep your turret gun, you’re just going to have to leave it behind.
The bosses are never too hard to see off, though there are some that will definitely kill you off a few times before you can work out how to defeat them – the colossal battle the Decepticons face with Omega Supreme, a colossal Autobot, are satisfying enough to keep on ploughing through in the face of a seemingly unstoppable enemy. There is a lot here to enjoy.
But that ten out of ten that certain Transformers fans might holler about isn’t anywhere near the truth. Is this a game that should be bought regardless of your opinion of transforming robots? You’d have to be into your third person shooters for starters.