Transformers: War for Cybertron was a breath of fresh air for players fed up with terrible licensed games. Instead of trying to adapt a new film into a game, High Moon Studios delved back into the Transformers comics and animated series to craft an original story. They're taking the same approach with War's follow-up, Fall of Cybertron. In addition to being just plain fun, the action game may also turn you into a real Transformers fan.
During my meeting with High Moon Studios, I was able to preview several missions from the campaign. Each of these missions showcases a different character. In the first mission previewed, the deception Vortex is trying to destroy a bridge controlled by the Autobots. Vortex can transform into a helicopter and the level is designed around this ability. The spacious map gives players the opportunities to seamlessly battle Autobots on land and in the air. In a later mission, the scrawny Autobot Cliffjumper must sneak around sentry bots and take them out with stealth attacks when possible. Each mission is tailored to show the unique aspects of the character starring in it. It's not hard to imagine a complete Transformers newbie having two or three favorite characters by the end of the campaign.
The other advantage to designing missions around characters is that there's a lot of variety in the gameplay. Every level has its own little twist to make the third-person action fresh. In one mission starring Optimus, he had the ability to call in airstrikes from Metroplex, a city-sized Transformer looming above the battlefield. The opening mission with Bumblebee has a driving segment to take advantage of his sports car form. The game's always changing a bit from level to level.
Fall's campaign also features the sort of jaw-dropping moments that make Michael Bay films look boring. The sight of Metroplex wreaking havoc is one example. However, a more vivid case was the level starring Bruticus. Bruticus is a nearly-unstoppable war machine formed when Vortex and his four friends combine together. Bruticus' level looks like a mix between Transformers and Godzilla. You strut around the battlefield and annihilate every Autobot in your path. I'm not sure how hard this will be - this was a hands-off part of the demo - but it sure looks entertaining.
The character that really stole the show in my preview, though, was Grimlock. Grimlock, the most powerful member of the Dinobots, plays very differently than any other character. For starters, he has no ranged attacks. In his bot form, he relies on a sword and shield to fend off enemies. He can't transform at will, either. He must kill enemies in order to build up rage. Once he's got enough rage, he can transform into a fire-breathing T-Rex. It's no surprise this guy's on the box art.
High Moon's not aiming to just give us nerdgasms, though. They're also trying to tell the story of the last days of Cybertron, Transformer's homeworld. At one point in the demo, the player (as Cliffjumper) explores an ancient map room and finds a diagram of a familar-looking planet: Earth. While there are plenty of fire-breathing T-Rex and city-sized Transformer moments in the game, High Moon knows how to slow things down when appropriate.
Later in the summer details on the game's new and improved multiplayer will be released. While the online modes will no doubt reel in a lot of action fans, I think the campaign is what will ultimately make players into Transformers fans if they aren't already. It digs deep into the source material and gets you to understand why this franchise has a fanbase spanning generations.