For reasons lost to the mists of time, TSA didn’t review High Moon’s second Transformers game. I previewed the game quite enthusiastically, as you might expect from a Transformers fan, but the review copy must have got lost in the post. Activision’s re-release of the game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One allows me to remedy that situation. This isn’t a remaster, but that really doesn’t matter.
With this sequel, High Moon Studios, who have since moved to help out with the Call of Duty franchise, fixed many of the problems that stopped the first game, War for Cybertron, from becoming a classic. Ammo is plentiful and there are now reasons to be vehicle mode, not to mention that the maps are pretty huge, the largest that the Unreal engine could handle at the time.
War for Cyberton had been a rather basic Gears of War corridor shooter clone, but Fall adds a smorgasbord of missions including stealth and dog-fighting missions. The Dinobots, who are wisely saved near the end of the game, play an important role in the story and playing a rampaging robotic T-rex is as much fun as it sounds.
Everything comes to climax as the Autobot spaceship, the Ark, heads for a wormhole and the Decepticons try and stop the ship. This final level is one huge movie-style royal rumble in which you play as both Autobots and Decepticons, switching sides as the battle progresses, and using every feature the game has to offer as you race to the game’s climax.
When the game came out four years ago, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were simply not up to the task and High Moon’s epic story sometimes got lost as the Unreal engine juddered and clunked. Textures were slow to load in, there was considerable pop up, but my main complaint was in regards to the textures, with each robot being dented and a bit grimey. It sounds like a good aesthetic in theory, but in practise at 720p the dirty rough textures on the robots, and indeed all of Cybertron, became a bit of a mess. In some points, it looked like a child had scribbled crayon across the screen which chugged along as the Unreal engine tried, and often failed, to keep up with the action.
Returning to the present day and Fall of Cybertron is the latest game from the Activision back catalogue to be refitted on to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Released with little fanfare in early August, the game is a straightforward 1080p version of the original game, with three DLC packs thrown in. That is it. Nothing else has been altered, the textures are the same, the frame rate seems to be locked to 30fps, there are the same number of polygons on screen.
However, any real Transformers fan knows that the robots are blocky, chunky things, rather than the curvy sculptures found in the Michael Bay movies. There’s no need for extra polygons or even better textures in this re-release, the originals are perfect. No, what was needed was a higher resolution and a more consistent frame rate, both of which have been delivered.
Even though very little has changed, the game looks so much fresher and cleaner on PlayStation 4. Characters in the distance are now clearly visible rather than being black smudges, texture pop in has been banished, and so has any slowdown. Simply put, the PlayStation 3 wasn’t up to pulling off such spectacle but with power of PlayStation 4, High Moon’s masterpiece can finally be seen as it should have been. It’s an even bigger jump when compared to the Xbox 360 version that ran at less than 720p.
That said, the game could have done with a little added effects work, which really belies the game’s last gen origins. Explosions are pretty weak, and you’d expect more lighting and particle effects from a modern PS4 game. The cutscenes could also have done with some love, seemingly having been up-rezzed from the original and leaving a lot to be desired.
Compared to the most recent Transformers game, Devastation, Fall of Cybertron is a slower, heavier game, but they complement each other quite well, Devastation’s bright visuals and fast combat sitting nicely alongside the darker, deeper story found in Cybertron. Both have their merits and should be essential purchases for Transformers fans.
Except they probably won’t be tempted because when it comes down to it, Activision have just shipped out the PC version of a 4 year old game and are charging £30 for it. However, unlike the recent PS4 version of Deadpool, Fall of Cybertron is a genuinely good game, whether you are a Transformer fan or not, and it is significantly better than the PS3 version.
Personally, I’d recommend the game, but I would fully understand if you thought Activision should work a little harder to justify re-releases like this. It’s certainly the best console version there has been of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and isn’t that the point of a remaster?