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Transformers: War for Cybertron swept me along with Prime, Ratchet and Bumblebee, back to the beginning of the troubles. New enough for my kids and yet old enough to evoke my own childhood, there was a lot to enjoy here.
Transformers were all the rage when I was young. The toys, the TV cartoon, and the movie all hold special places in my childhood memories. And I don't mean the Michael Bay movie, I mean the cartoon one where Optimus Prime ends up dead.
I picked up Transformers: War for Cybertron on Xbox 360 with a sense of excitement and suspicion. Excitement because I do still love Transformers, but suspicion because I thought Transformers: The Game was pretty rank. I certainly hoped this one would be better.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is set during the Decepticon and Autobot war on their home planet. I'm quite a fan of prequels, and always relish the chance to see how a story started. While I've encountered the war on a few occasions during my Transformers fandom, it was good to revisit it in the game.
I don't know why, but I always like the "baddies" in a franchise better than the "goodies". Give me the Empire over the Rebels any day. I'd love to have seen the Romulans kick Starfleet's backside. And I've always liked the Decepticons better than the Autobots. I was really pleased to see that Transformers: War for Cybertron starts off with you in the role of the Decepticons as they try to take over an orbital station guarded by Starscream. Ah, the memories are already flooding back. I always wanted the Starscream toy! And if you're an Autobot fan, don't worry. You get the chance to counterattack in the Autobot campaign too.
I broke into a very big smile when I heard Soundwave speak for the first time.
I'm also really pleased to see that the character designs have been given an upgrade - if would be a bit cheesy to see them still looking like the original cartoon - but they're still recognisable. I never liked the new movie's take on Megatron and, while War for Cybertron has made some changes, it's still close enough to the original to please a geek like me. For instance, Megatron's head still has that odd-shaped helmet, and he's sporting a huge arm-mounted gun. Soundwave, one of my favourite Decepticons, also looks very much like his original self, and we even get to see his companions like Laserbeak and Rumble.
I broke into a very big smile when I heard Soundwave speak for the first time. Again, it's an updated version of the original sound effect, but it was great to hear that Blizzard had gone with the musical/processed voice I remember from my childhood.
My children are too young to play War for Cybertron, but do seem to love watching it being played. My daughter keeps asking what's happening, and she's either just humouring me or is actually interested when I tell her that Optimus, Ratchet and Bumblebee are trying to get the computers working again. If my son were a bit older I would be tempted to head out and buy him a few Transformers toys, but I think it's more likely that he's just enjoying the colours and sounds than actually understanding the whole Transformer thing. And, let's be honest, I would actually be buying the toys for me. At least, that's what happened when I bought some Star Wars Lego.
My daughter keeps asking what's happening, and she's either just humouring me or is actually interested.
I love that modern games consoles can convey a real sense of scale. When the Decepticons battle Omega Supreme you can really feel how large the Autobot is and at several points I genuinely felt awe at what I was seeing. Sure I know it's just computer generated, but it looks stunning. I had also forgotten just how large Transformers could be, but then I remembered that I'd had one called Metroplex as a child: a combination battle station, robot, and city!
Playing through Transformers: War for Cybertron evoked a lot of memories for me. It looks close enough to the gen. one Transformers for me to feel connected, but updated enough not to feel stuck in the past. Memories alone, however, don't sell games. Transformers: War for Cybertron is good, but I wouldn't say it was groundbreaking. Is has, however, obviously tapped into something within my psyche, as I went to bed the other night and could still see images from the game when I shut my eyes.
Whether it's the chance to revisit one of the things I enjoyed during my early years, or something else, I'm hooked. War for Cybertron is good enough to grab your interest whether you're a Transformers fan or not. If you are though, there's a very big hook here.
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