- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2012

The epic civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons continues in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Activision and High Moon Studios, rated T for teen, reviewed for Xbox 360, $59.99). A successor to the hit 2010 title War for Cybertron, the third-person action game offers an adventure starring members of Hasbro’s legendary robotic toy line in both a solo campaign and multiplayer modes.

Story: From the game manual: The home planet of the Transformers, Cybertron, is dying. Battles rage between the Autobots and the Decepticons as the planet is rocked by quakes and electrical storms. Energon, the lifeblood of the Transformers, is in scare supply, sparking violent conflicts over precious wells. Optimus Prime leads the Autobots in an attempt to man the last transport off his dying home, a ship known as the Ark. Meanwhile, Megatron and his Decepticons push the tide of war into the Autobots’ home city to crush them once and for all.

Play the role: The 13-chapter solo campaign allows a player to take control of key members of the warring factions (six chapters for Autobots, six for Decepticons and one rousing finale) as they attempt to slaughter one another in a linear adventure spanning about 14 hours.

Our mechanical brethren run, shoot, drive, fly, punch, jump and even take a stealthy route on missions while they visit locales including an ancient tomb within the Sea of Rust, the massive Ark spaceship, the industrial city of Kaon and the besieged spaceport in Iacon city (home of the Autobots).

Each chapter gives the player a chance to control a specific Transformer. For Autobot fans, that means using Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz and Cliffjumper while Decepitcon devotees control Megatron, Vortex, Bruticus and Starscream.

Remember, each character also transforms into vehicles, so gear up for Starscream’s jet maneuvers, Vortex as a helicopter or Swindle’s ATV sporting a machine-gun turret.

High Moon Studios also tosses in some pleasant transformation surprises.

I’ll point to the mighty Grimlock, kind of the Incredible Hulk of the Transformers. This fellow storms around with shield and sword and accumulates rage until he can turn into a slick mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex with the power to stomp and breathe fire at his foes. I wish I could have played the entire game with this Dinobot legend.

Get to the action: These robotic superstars pack a powerful punch using a combination of primary and heavy weapons along with special abilities.

My favorite weapons include the sniper-loving Neutron charge rifle or a Gatling-style gun, the X-18 Scrapmaker (that cuts through enemies like butta).

Abilities such as Cliffjumper’s cloaking, a powerful grappling hook for Jazz, Megatron’s hovering and a shockwave attack from Vortex help in missions, but for sheer might, I appreciated Optimus Prime calling in air strikes (with the force of a limited nuke) to tear through Decepticon ranks and machinery.

One missing element that killed me (often) was the lack of cover mechanics. Yes, I could run and gun until my character’s legs started leaking oil, but it sure would have helped if I could have hidden behind a concrete barrier for a bit while I thought out some strategy.

Additionally, scattered around dead enemies and stuffed in cases are Energon shards. The shards are the Transformers’ currency and a player directs his robot to Telestraan 1 computer kiosks positioned throughout locations to buy weapons, tech items, munitions and upgrades, including the daunting Dimensional Decimator (for 1,600 shards, it temporarily tears a hole in the fabric of space to stun bigger targets).

Memorable moments (in no particular order): Using the massive hand of the multistory tall Metroplex to crush a famous Decepticon; viewing a map room to the universe; pulling a lever and watching it turn into a cute, dancing Transformer; escaping from swarms of Insecticons; fighting Decepticon Guardians and Leapers; unleashing Bruticus’ Sonic Pain Wave; and attacking a base in the massive Hydrax Canyons.

Story Continues →