Transformers: War for Cybertron brings the war home for the Autobots and Decepticons, with Megatron trying to take over and control the planet for himself, while Optimus and the Autobots must try to thwart his efforts and save their home planet. We see a lot of familiar faces in this title, and can even take the role of almost all of them, as the campaign is split between playing as both the Decepticons and Autobots. There is even a healthy dose of multiplayer, so the only thing you have to ask yourself is, which side will you choose?
The first talking point is the campaign itself. It features 10 chapters, each of which, aside from the final two, have 10 sections each. These chapters are split up, 5 for the Decepticons, and 5 for the Autobots, but the entire story is cohesive and follows a linear path. The game starts with the Decepticon chapters, but you can choose to skip ahead to the Autobot sections, although doing so will have you missing out on all of the Decepticon happenings, which could easily confuse you, story wise. Because of this, pacing is a bit weird, because, obviously, the starting chapter(s) are a bit easier, and then it gets harder, but when you start the Autobot chapters, it's easy again. Also, the stories kind of mirror each other, at least with the final boss in each major section, so you'll be seeing some familiar sites, although both stray from each other, so each feel fresh. For instance, the main boss in each story line is a huge robot, but both are fought in completely different ways, and require different strategies.
The story starts out with Megatron, who plots to obtain Dark Energon, infect the core of Cybertron, and then rule the planet, and restore it to its past glory. I'm not the biggest Transformer fan, but apparently this is somewhere near the beginning of the timeline, at least with the civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Anyways, Megatron proves to be a fairly competent foe, and is successful, leading Optimus and crew to clean up what Megatron has done. Anyways...
At the beginning of each chapter, you can choose from 3 or 4 characters to play as. Each character has a unique class, like Scientist, Leader, Soldier, has unique abilities, and starts with a different weapon. Overall, the character selection doesn't really change gameplay up that much, and I didn't notice any diverse differences between classes, but it is still an incentive to replay chapters as a different character.
The entire campaign can actually be played in co-op as well; up to 3 players can join, but I didn't test it out myself. Without co-op, you have two guys backing you up, who act more as a distraction to enemies rather than kicking some ass, so you're still responsible for blowing those robots away.
Graphically, the game looks nice, but everything is a little too shiny, and most of the environments look the same. It all looks mechanical and metal and gets a bit stale, but the gameplay mechanics themselves are solid, which is good.
The perspective is third-person, slightly over the shoulder look, which I wish would just have been pure third-person. You can hold two weapons at a time, and the variety is pretty nice. There are machine guns, a scoped pistol, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, remote detonated grenade launcher, and some other fun tools. You can also melee with a giant axe, and cut robots in half, which is pretty satisfying. You also have a variety of grenades at your disposal, like frag, EMP, and ironically enough, healing grenades. Your character of choice has two special abilities, which can help him move around or deal some damage. And naturally, each character can transform into either a car or jet, depending on the scenario, which is done quite quickly, on the fly, and doesn't take you out of the action. As a vehicle, you can move around quicker, boost, and use a couple of extra weapons. The necessity of flight in certain levels helps to relieve the monotony, and handles quite well.
While the campaign is solid, and will last you at least 10 hours, especially if you want to find all of the hidden tokens, the game really shines in multiplayer. There are various team verse team modes, like deathmatch and zones, as well as Escalation. The game play is exactly the same as campaign, so you are still running around as a robot and can still transform into a vehicle, so fire fights can get pretty crazy, and you can get back into the battle quickly. There are a ton of challenges you can get, so you'll always see something flash up on screen to announce an extra 100 XP, which is always exciting. There are also kill streaks, so if you get a 3 kill streak, or 5, etc, you'll get a little bonus to use, like a radar to detect enemies, or health regenerator, or other useful item, so strategic combat is important.
Obviously, you can rank up your character, but a cool thing is that there are multiple classes to play as, like Solider, Scientist, Scout, and each of these are ranked up as you use them. So, you'll have to go from one class to another to rank each one up, so you can unlock new abilities and starting weapons. This will keep you playing for some time.
And if that weren't enough, there is another mode called Escalation, which is almost exactly like Nazi Zombies from Call of Duty: World at War. You can play with 4 guys total, and you battle wave after wave of transformers. The first rounds are pretty easy, but the higher you go, the harder and bigger the enemies are. As you take out baddies, you earn points, which you can spend on opening new rooms and purchasing new weapons, ammo, and health. If you take too much damage, you go down, but can be revived by team mates, if they get to you fast enough. Also, unlike Nazi Zombies, you can put some points down for, say, opening a door to a new room, but not spend the full points. For instance, if a door costs 400 points, you can put 100 towards the door, and have your teammates put in the other 300 and fill the meter. This way, you never have to force one player to spend all of his points on getting the next door, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, there are only two maps for this mode, but it's still killer and something that will have you playing again and again. Heck, I still play Nazi Zombies.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is an all around fun game. I felt the campaign got a little repetitive, but whacking robots to death and playing with some of those weapons was pretty awesome, and the bosses got pretty difficult and felt fresh. The multiplayer ranks up there, with fun standard modes, and Escalation is great and will definitely keep you coming back. Don't think this is some lame, shovelware, movie, kiddy crap that gets built in a month and thrown out on every system, because it is much more than that, and definitely worth a look. If you're a fan of Transformers, or just like shoot-em ups, check this game out. If you need another game to throw hours upon hours away at with multiplayer, then you might have found a winner.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
This review was based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, however, most of which has been stated should also be applied to the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game. However, the Wii and DS versions of the game are different and should not apply to this review.