Fall of Cybertron Video Game Demo: First Impressions (Multiplayer)
On the first week of August 2012, High Moon Studios loaded up a gameplay demo of the upcoming "Fall of Cybertron" video game featuring two levels, one where you could play as the Autobot Bumblebee and the other as the Combaticon Vortex. I just downloaded this today (August 4, 2012) and played through the Bumblebee demo level and wanted to share my thoughts while they were "fresh" in my mind.
"Fall of Cybertron" is the multimedia "event" of 2012. Action figures are being released for it (and more extensively than they were for "War for Cybertron") and High Moon and Hasbro have done a fantastic job promoting the game via multimedia. They've released tons of images and preview videos, but this was the first time one could play the game on their XBox 360 or PS3 in the comfort of their own homes.
For years fans have had the opportunity to play "Transformers" video games based on main characters such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream. However, it's rare when you get to be someone that may normally just be a background character fighting one of the less grand battles that didn't quite make the history books. That's how I felt during the set up for the Multi Player portion of the "Fall of Cybertron" demo package.
After a quick set up on my PS3, the game quickly linked up to my wireless signal and you get to explore a couple options. You can customize the chasis of the Transformer you are going to use. There are four classes of Transformers you can choose from: Infiltrator, Destroyer, Titan and Scientist. Roughly speaking, the Infiltrator is akin to being a small Transformer like Bumblebee. The Destroyer is a body chasis resembling Optimus Prime. The Titan is based on Megatron and the Scientist is based on Starscream. As you'd expect, each of these body types has strengths and weaknesses. The Infiltrator is super fast, but not heavily armed. The Destroyer is well armed, but not particularly quick. The same can be said for the Titan. The Scientist can fly (a huge advantage) and offers the ability to heal the Energon reserves of its teammates but is not heavily armored. In the customization bay you can also change your weapon load outs as you earn new weapons. Each time you play a game, you earn points. The more enemies you destroy the better your points and you can "Level up" five times before you max out that chasis.
Once you enter the arena, the game automatically searches for a match for you. Sometimes you start a whole new match and other times you are dropped right into an existing match. Either way, you get to select your body chasis right before the match. Then the line up of your team and your opponents is shown, along with an icon next to them indicating what forms they have chosen. Their stats are also located on the right, giving you an idea as to the strength of your team. I sometimes found the distribution wildly uneven if there were fewer than five players. For instance, I once got dropped into a game where it was two Autobots versus four Decepticons - not odds that I enjoy when I'm an Autobot. Usually jumping out of the game, and then searching for a new one does the trick. Once in a blue moon, you can get dropped into a very abandoned game field where it's only you and a few other people and you wind up spending most of your time wondering where everyone is. My recommendation is to leave those games and start over in a more populated game.
The demo level is a small area on Cybertron where a large radar dish is located. Around it are multi-level buildings with several windows, some open and some with force fields around them. The setting is perfect to demonstrate the abilities of the four body variants. If you're an Infiltrator, you can get away from enemies quickly by finding cover or dashing past them on the battlefield. The Destroyer and Titans can roar onto the battlefield with their weapons blazing but also take cover in windows offering some limited protection as you target enemies far away. Scientists get one big advantage in that you can fly to ledges and outcroppings that the three other body types can't access to take shots at enemies. The world is also very immersive. All over the place there are computer screens, crates of equipment and other signs of this being a "living" world strewn about. There's also an interesting blend of rock and metal, indicating that Cybertron isn't all mechanical in this universe and may still have some elements of the planetoid Primus turned into his own body.
Littered throughout the board are Energon Cubes that replenish all your Energon and shields as well as ammunition. If you're lucky, you can find add-ons to your chasis such as a power booster that makes you faster or an Energon coil that helps you recharge. Installing these upgrades involves standing near the item for a few seconds, so be careful you're not being blasted in the process. I tried not to use Energon Cubes unless I was seriously low on power since your teammates and opponents alike are all vying for the same resources.
Now I have to confess that this is only my second multiplayer experience on the PS3. My first was with "Bioshock", and I honestly didn't have that great of a time. I wanted to explore the world and get into some melee action but found myself getting killed so often I just had to join the fray in order to get around at all. This time out my experience was more positive. For the most part, 90% of my games were really fun. Even though I'm nowhere near a good gamer (skillwise), I had a lot of fun blasting enemies, whizzing around, transforming in mid jump, using different weapons for different types of shots and generally being a troop in the larger Cybertronian war. So far I've fully powered up my Destroyer and I'm working on doing the same with the Infiltrator. When you are destroyed, you come back after getting to see some other players and their activity as the game resets. Don't worry, you're generally dropped in a place where no one is shooting at you (at least not right away), giving you a chance to rejoin the game in peace (for a few seconds).
There is however, an ugly side to online multiplayer gaming that I was not aware of until I played this game. In one game, I had the same guy relentlessly pursue me for two matches in a row. Every time I was destroyed, it was him and I have no idea why he (or she) targeted me specifically so many times. Another time, I was in an even match (five Autobots, five Decepticons) and I had noticed from a previous match that some of the guys on my team were chatting with friends on the other team. When the match began, three of my "teammates" sat the match out and only one other guy and I were going up against five guys from the other team. This is "boosting" (there are other terms) where playes help each other level up by artificially producing results. Needless to say after a couple minutes of this nonsense I quit the game to go find one more sporting. I recommend you do the same if you find yourself in that position.
Now and then the game would lock up and it would mention we were being migrated to another server. Usually this wound up costing me as I would come into the game while others were fighting and get blasted before realizing what had happened. This could be a function of my router so I won't blame the game, but it's worth noting that it can happen.
Overall I enjoyed the multiplayer game experience, and I think it was a cool idea to start with one (of ten) multiplayer maps to get fans familiar with the concepts behind it before moving on to the real game and all the other maps and potential chasis types that exist. If this demo is any indication, "Transformers" fans are in for one super fun multiplayer experience!