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Going Alone and Loving it in Fall of Cybertron

"People think being a game director is the best job in the world," says High Moon Studios' Matt Tieger. "Truth is, it's the worst." The man in charge of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron says the hardest part of his job is having to make sacrifices. He knew change would inevitably upset somebody, but achieving the team's new vision for the franchise meant letting go of aspects it loved.<br/><br/>The most notable casualty of the War for Cybertron is co-op. This time around, the campaign is single-player only. "It's heartbreaking, I know," Tieger says, "but we have a very good reason for that."<br/><br/>As it turns out, High Moon has a lot of good reasons.<br/><br/><center> <object id="vid_1f9e758f691bf2ce556e70d2a73121ad" class="ign-videoplayer" width="468" height="263" data="http://media.ign.com/ev/prod/embed.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="movie" value="http://media.ign.com/ev/prod/embed.swf"/><param name="" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><param name="bgcolor" value="#000000"/><param name="flashvars" value="url=http://www.ign.com/videos/2012/02/20/transformers-fall-of-cybertron-video-preview"/><param name="wmode" value="opaque"/></object> <div style="width:468px"><a target="_blank" href="http://www.ign.com/videos/2012/02/20/transformers-fall-of-cybertron-video-preview">More Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Videos</a></div></center><br/><br/>Each character in Fall of Cybertron comes equipped with a unique ability to call its own. This goes beyond the expected "he's a jet instead of a car," or the typical "can carry heavy weapons." <br/><br/>Optimus Prime, for instance, can designate targets for air strikes. In addition, the Autobot leader can mark massive structures for death by giving orders to Metroplex, his city-sized, punch-happy helper. Jazz, on the other hand, can navigate vertical levels using a grappling hook similar to the zip-line in Just Cause 2. Vortex adds another layer that complicates combat in an interesting way: He can flip from walking, a jet, and a chopper, and each form has its own set of weapons. <br/><br/>These kinds of abilities will change the way fights unfold in major ways, and it's one of, if not the most exciting thing about the campaign.<br/><br/><img src="http://ps3media.ign.com/ps3/image/article/120/1200121/transformers-fall-of-cybertron-20111013052324082-000.jpg" /><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>The most significant gameplay changes come in the form of new Transformers. The Combaticons combine to create Bruticus, a lumbering behemoth with a laser-cannon for a fist and a penchant for smashing environments to pieces. Fall of Cybertron's most marketable new faction is, of course, the Dinobots. <br/><br/>Gameplay as Grimlock, the Dinobot leader, is a cool highlight because it removes ranged combat from the equation altogether. He's sword-and-shield only, with the added bonus of transforming into "a f---ing space T-Rex that breathes fire," as Tieger puts it. "You don't even have to like Transformers to love that."<br/><br/>These distinguishing characteristics were the primary concern for Tieger, who openly admits, "the first game got a bit repetitive toward the end." Achieving a stronger sense of diversity also meant retooling the level design and creating a wider visual palette. High Moon Studios even went so far as to rebuild its entire artificial intelligence system from scratch. <br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/121/1218932/xxx-20120219020214595-000.jpg" /><br/>The Ark is the Autobots' only way off Cybertron, and she's all out of juice.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Enemies could barely keep up with player mobility in War for Cybertron -- switching from vehicle form to on-foot and back to a car confused enemies. The A.I. was exploitable and, at times, kind of embarrassing. With two characters rampaging through Cybertron, you and a pal could steamroll the chumps. <br/><br/>Fall of Cybertron's enemies are built to keep up and kick your ass. They'll throw grenades, relocate in the large environments, and snipe while on the move. There are also just more of them -- a natural result of the addition of Insecticons and Dinobots, and yet another check mark on the team's "more, more, more" to-do list.<br/><br/>What place would co-op have in a campaign like this, one built so specifically around one player's abilities? The new A.I., availability of ammunition, methods of traversing the environment, and mission design discourage multiplayer in most cases, and make it impossible in others. <br/><br/>With that in mind, Fall of Cybertron's new multiplayer should pick up the online slack.<br/><br/><img src="http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/121/1218932/xxx-20120219020214178-000.jpg" /><br/>The use of color is gorgeous in certain settings.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Tieger won't specify why or how the multiplayer is new and improved, though -- only that it's going to be more ambitious than War for Cybertron's straightforward (but still good) competitive modes and co-op survival. If the improved robo-customization is indicative of the overall approach to improving its online, Fall of Cybertron is well on its way.<br/><br/>The limited character creator from the first game is getting a massive overhaul. Changing individual appendages gives each infantry bot its own distinct look, while changing the appearance of the vehicle transformation as well. A lanky, thin gunner may transform into a hulking tank, and a small tweak to your arms can turn your space sedan into an F1 racer from the future. There are a ton of options, and Transformers nerds are going to freak out. <br/><br/>That's probably true about the whole of Fall of Cybertron, actually. This is yet another prime example of Tieger and his team proving they <i>get it</i>. High Moon Studios is a talented team that understand Transformers and is catering to fans in bold new ways. Even if it means trimming the fat we used to love.<br/><br/><LINK REL="stylesheet" HREF="http://guidesmedia.ign.com/guides/uni/IGNE_style.css" TYPE="text/css"><br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_divider"></DIV><br/><br/><i>Mitch Dyer is an Associate Editor for IGN's Xbox 360 team. He's also quite Canadian. Read his ramblings on <b><a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/MitchyD">Twitter</a></b> and <a target="_blank" href="http://people.ign.com/Mitchy_D">MyIGN</a></b>.</i><br/><br/><br><br/><br/>&#169;2012-02-20, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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