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When I first discovered the titanic Autobot Metroplex would be making an appearance in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, I experienced a brief rush of excitement—maybe Hasbro would make a new proper Metroplex toy! They'd reused the name for a silly giant from the Transformers: Cybertron line, why not?
Eventually I convinced myself this would never happen. He's too large, too pretty. Besides, I asked Hasbro PR guy Joe Moscone if there was a Metroplex in the works at last year's San Diego Comic-Con, and he told me there were no plans to make a new Metroplex toy. That's the same Joe Moscone that sent out the press materials today for the new Transformers debuting at the New York Toy Fair this week. Toys including the Titan-class Metroplex, standing over two feet tall and priced at $125.
Joe's a bit sneaky.
He's (Metroplex, not Joe) the tallest official Transformer ever, standing slightly higher that former title holder Fortress Maximus. He's also beautiful. Just look at him.
That's his robot mode, obviously. Like the original Metroplex he also has a vehicle form...
...and a city mode.
Metroplex isn't the only cool toy coming out of the Transformers Generations line this year. Triple Changers Springer and Blitzwing triumphantly return to store shelves, which is incredibly exciting. The purple Megatron from Fall of Cybertron makes an appearance (correction—it's Stealth Bomber Megatron from the IDW comics), and my goodness—the first official figure of Orion Pax, the Autobot that would one day become Optimus Prime.
That's an exciting line-up, but Metroplex—Metroplex wins everything. Thank you, Hasbro. My children are in the mail.
The recent introduction of the Dinobots to Transformers: Fall of Cybertron's multiplayer seems to have been a rousing success. Now comes the time of the Insecticons.
The Insecticons downloadable content hits later today, adding Shockwave's big bad bugs to the online battle. High Moon has morphed the mechanical critters so they fit into the four established classes, so they won't be any more powerful than regular multiplayer characters, but I don't know — there's an intimidation factor there that someone that really hates bugs can't avoid.
Not a big bug fan here.
To usher in the Insecticon swarm, High Moon Studios senior creative director Dave Cravens answers questions you might have been asking in this informative and entertaining Q&A.
And remember, they aren't in our way — they're our way in.
1. Who are the Insecticons?
They're these super creepy Decepticons that normally hang out beneath Cybertron's surface and feed off the core. Since the planet's core has shut down they've begun to surface looking for energy. Shockwave discovered them and began to experiment and dissect the Instecticons to create even more horrific creatures to be used against the Autobots. Shockwave believes the majority of Insecticons are distant clones from the originals, of which he has found three: Hardshell, Sharpshot and Kickback. That's how our story goes, which Hasbro was a big fan of and has instituted as part of their new canon.
2. How do they fit in with the single player story?
In Fall of Cybertron, the Insecticons are the ones to first take down Grimlock and his team-overwhelming them by sheer numbers. This allows Shockwave to capture them and ultimately transform Grimlock and his buds into the Dinobots we all know and love today.
3. What made High Moon decide to put them into Multiplayer?
We thought it would be cool, and the Dinobot DLC needed a Decepticon foil. Once we figured out how to do the Dinobot DLC, the Insecticons were the next logical step. It's like a two-step. You ever two-step? Does anyone anymore? Ballroom dancing is a lost art, Kotaku.
4. Why weren't they in the original game – why are they DLC?
A lot of the DLC stuff came on very late in the project. These are often ideas one hopes for, but never know if you're truly going to have the time to do it until you've taken care of all the other priorities first. Dinobots and Insecticons were critical for the single player game, so they were originally built to fulfill that need. Sure, they'd be cool for multiplayer, but first we had to make certain that the core multiplayer experience was as tight as it could be. Once all the dust settled, the team busted ass to see if the Dinobots and Insecticons could work in multiplayer. This is easier said than done. Sure, they're essentially fitting into the existing classes, but there's a lot of work that goes in making certain all the parts are interchangeable for the customization, that the animations hook up, and of course that the speed at which a player controls them fits smoothly into the multiplayer experience and looks cool. I'm happy to say the team pulled it off.
5. Did they present unique gameplay challenges in terms of their "vehicle types" and weapons?
Again, we decided to place them in existing classes so as not to upset the carefully crafted balance we have going on in multiplayer. The last thing we want is any new character being so powerful that no one can take him, that sort of thing. That said, it's pretty cool to see the Insecticons crawling and flying around and raising hell in a multiplayer match.
6. What has been the fan reaction to the Dinobots so far, and how do you think they'll like playing as the Insecticons?
If you jumped into a match right now, you'd probably see 65% of the people playing as a Dinobot. It's pretty cool, and almost a reason in of itself to buy Fall of Cybertron. Of course there are so many MORE reasons to buy it, like it's a fantastic story, it's the best Transformers gave EVER, etc. etc.. I think come tomorrow you'll see 50% Dinos and 50% Insecticons tearing each other part. It will be EPIC.
The single-player portion of the PC version of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is pretty great, capturing all of the action and adventure of the console versions aptly. The online multiplayer, on the other hand, isn't so hot. High Moon and friends are working to make it better.
Connecting to multiplayer is hard. Getting together with your friends is tough. Staying with your friends is tough. It's as if the Xbox 360 architecture, which limits the number of people that one can have on their friends list, made it into the PC version, and if friends aren't on your list, good luck playing with them. Others report sound issues, missing animations, and various other problems that occur when you hop on the PC train as late as Fall of Cybertron did.
Activision and High Moon Studios are firmly dedicated to providing a fun multiplayer experience in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We've seen some concerns from PC fans about the online experience and have been working hard with internal and external teams to address any issues. These actions include the following:
· Near launch date, we caught and immediately fixed a bug that dealt with PC host migration.
· High Moon recently released a patch for the console versions of the game that included a number of small changes to the dynamic gameplay balancing and tuning, and these changes are currently being tested for the PC. We are working hard to get this finished for PC gamers in the next week.
· We are also monitoring the support web site very closely here: http://support.activision.com/pkb_Home?clickedOn=Fall_of_Cybertron. Any users who have additional inquiries should visit this link and rest assured that we are looking at all user comments and questions.
Well thank goodness they caught that bug in the PC migration — around the time of launch. Not actually a good sign, but as long as they're working to make it better and not say, giving up and hiding (War for Cybertron), then we're on the right track.
What's the most power combiner team in the Transformers universe? The fierce and relentless Predaking? The cool and calculating Computron? The eagle-elephant-lion Magnaboss? As far as Fall of Cybertron is concerned, it's Reviewertron, guardian of Metacritic.
Like any combiner team, this one is made up of several wildly disparate elements united under a common cause, in this case delivering critical opinion on the second game in High Moon Studios exploration of ancient Cybertronian history. After a fine but flawed first outing, this team was brought to life using the Key to Vector Sigma to ensure that these legends were told with a proper mix of excitement, reverence, and personality.
After lengthy arguments over who got to be the torso (I wanted to be the right leg, for reason I'll not go into), this mighty team of video game critics embarked on their first mission.
Did they succeed, or is this just bad comedy?
Each level type is fun in its own right. The shooting sections are solid, stealth missions go without a hitch, and aerial assaults are a blast. However, the melee-focused Dinobot section of the campaign is far from enjoyable. Rather than running into battle guns blazing, firing off missile launchers, and transforming at a moment's notice to rain-down a bombardment of explosives on enemy lines, you're forced to continuously mash the melee button and watch the same combo animation over and over, as you wail on Insecticons. The entire section was completely out of place and drags on for far too long. Even the instant ability to transform is taken away in exchange for a rage meter that (once filled) allows you to activate your T-Rex form.
Overall, the gameplay feels tighter and more focused. However, the inability to play as or interact with a larger roster of characters is disappointing. You'll see plenty of familiar characters, like Ironside and Shockwave, but you won't be able to interact with most of them in more than a short dialogue exchange. It is also a missed opportunity that the more prominent characters don't play boss roles to fill the overall lack of boss battles. Instead, you're stuck fighting generic, larger-than-usual transformers as they show up as "sort-of" mini-bosses to replace the massive boss encounters of the first game.
When you combine the reworking of Fall of Cybertron's style of storytelling with chapters more tailor-made for the specific abilities of the Transformers they focus on, you get a campaign mode that feels bigger, badder, and better than before. There are, however, some catches. Moving from separate stories focused on the Autobots and Decepticons to a larger, combined Campaign means your allegiance will be switching back and forth. In one chapter, there I am, fighting to protect the Arc and its goal; the next, I'm purposely trying to sabotage the Arc's launch. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it's not a huge deal-but it is, at times, hard to come to terms with knowing that you're constantly working against your own efforts.
The switch also has an obvious impact on gameplay. For those who enjoyed the three-character team aspect of War for Cybertron and its selectable main characters, Fall of Cybertron's shift to a solo-character narrative might not be a welcome change. That change also means that the original game's three-player campaign co-op is gone-with absolutely nothing to replace it. It makes sense why that mode didn't survive under this new direction, but it feels a little weird to have what was a decently major feature of the previous game totally absent from its follow-up. However, that feeling of missing features crops up even more in Fall of Cybertron's multiplayer modes.
Campaign co-op may be on the cutting room floor, but Fall does bring back the series' excellent Escalation mode. This Horde-like challenge tasks up to four players with fending off 15 swarms of increasingly pissed-off bots. More than just an opportunity to mindlessly unload on metallic menaces, Escalation injects plenty of team-based strategy by requiring players to pool resources to unlock arsenals and upgrade weapons. Couple this cerebral layer with thoughtfully designed maps, a quartet of character classes, and the constant challenge of striking the right strategic balance between vehicle and robot forms, and Escalation delivers the most rewarding live-as-long-as-you-can mode I've played in recent memory.
The basic conceit (of multiplayer) is the same - there are four classes available, each with their own niche to fill, whether the hit-and-run role of the scout or the medic-oriented duties of the scientist, and each class has its own vehicular category. The aerial Transformers' ability to remain indefinitely aloft defines the battlefield on the x and y axes in a way that not many shooters pull off. The mobility factor makes for rapidly shifting momentum, and more importantly, there's always something to do, and the period between spawning and mixing it up is brief.
Returning War for Cybertron players and hardcore Transformers nerds will enjoy the revamped character creation, which allows for mixing and matching a toy store's worth of parts while customizing your loadouts.
"Fall of Cybertron" is a great kickoff to the fall season. Whether you're a Transformers fan or not, the game is a lot of fun. It truly ramps up the action to epic levels, then somehow keeps topping itself with dazzling new sequences. The levels are varied and well designed, the objectives are straightforward, you don't have to manage your stats for the sake of boss monsters, and the multiplayer modes are genuinely fun and easily accessible. It also ends well while at the same time teasing the third game as possibly being set on Earth. It'd be great if the next Transformers game offered the open world nature of "Sleeping Dogs" while retaining the combat, characters, and stories. That's just a suggestion on my part, High Moon, nothing more. You did a great job with this title and for that you are to be commended.
The pieces of plastic that filled my toy box as a child were more than just toys. Each colorful figure liberated from that battered wooden prison had a story to tell. I gave them dreams. I gave them voices. Though Hasbro laid the groundwork, I gave them personalities as diverse as their functions. There was a war going on, sure, but I was more concerned with the characters than any overarching purpose, even one as grand as survival of the species.
After playing Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, I get the feeling that the High Moon folks feel the same way about their toys.