Look what I bought!

July 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Its that time of year again, when we in the UK get that few brief days of sunshine and uncomfortable heat that we look forward to, and complain about when it gets here. And of course Steam has its Summer Sale.  A fortnight of sometimes insane deals and a huge amount of indie love (indie game love, of course).

Its a difficult time for some of us; it can be hard enough getting through your back-game catalogue during our limited free time at the best of times. But when you start buying games at silly prices (Shogun 2 at 50% off? How can you not…), it becomes marriage-destroying. I personally have at least three games bought last year that I have yet to install, never mind play (Sorry, Red Faction Guerrilla, I’ll get to you someday), and now there’s even MORE?! Being a grown-up sucks…

Sometimes though, you buy something you never would have at full price. And sometimes, its a little bit better than you ever expected.

So, I bought a couple of games the other day: Torchlight, a game I’ve been intending to buy for a while now as I have recently become the owner of a lovely lil’ Netbook, and wanted a game I could play on the go, and I’ve been vaguely informed Torchlight is great for Netbooks. We shall see, said the blind man…

And Transformers: War for Cybertron. Laugh and I’ll punch you.

For five quid, what can you say? It looked interesting, the Unreal 3 engine and a cool-in-an-eighties-kinda-way franchise.  It certainly looked healthier than those crap-tastic Michael Bay movie tie-ins which, incidentally, I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot barge-pole.  And… did I say it was a fiver? My habitual trip to the game’s forums also made me smile; a small, but very friendly community had built up around this game. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and it was full of lovely “Well played” posts from the previous nights games. AND IT WAS ONLY A FIVER! Open-mouthed smile

So I took the plunge. Okay, it isn’t going to be great, but I was sure that the multiplayer alone was going to make it worth the money. I was half right…

An hour into the single-player campaign, and I’m somewhat confused. This game is good. Better than good, to be honest. There’s an air of Gears of War about it, but without all the poncy hiding behind walls stuff. The combat was solid, the guns are interesting, if lamely named (the Nega-blaster? Really!? No.), but its frantic, over-the-shoulder shooty fun really scratches the itch.

The story seems to be a prelude to the canon we all know from the 80’s cartoon and the recent over-exposed movies, showing the fall of the Autobots and their consequent re-birth with Optimus Prime as the head… dude… the boss? Or something like that… Look, I was never a big fan of Transformers, not because I don’t like them; I was just more of a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles kid.  My difficulty with the plot aside, its a typical action romp with plenty of character. The plastic/chrome faces of the various robots, while static, are brought to life with an above-par voice performance, with some authentic chuckle-inducing moments, much to my surprise, and some really nice banter between yourself and your two buddies.

Oh yeah, the banter.  You are one of a squad of three for most of the game, and as a splendid touch, the other two can be played by your mates in a decent co-op setup. Its rudimentary, and I’ve yet to come across a stage that’s difficult enough to require it, but its nice to have the option there. Listening to Starscream wax maniacal as you shoot your way through snipers is hilariously over-done, but funny none the less.

The multiplayer is a pleasant experience, if a slightly solitary one. There aren’t as many people online as there no doubt was when the game was new, but a game isn’t all that hard to find. Worse than that though, the game doesn’t seem to have a chat function. Now, this may be me being a dumb-ass, but I as yet have been unable to find a button that opens a chat window. A throwback to the games console roots?  I honestly dont know, and don’t care much either – it doesn’t detract from the fun in the slightest.  However, I noticed earlier some lovely chap has setup a public Teamspeak server just for WFC, which is splendid, check the Steam WFC forums for the details. That’s the kind of community money simply can’t buy.

The actual MP feels set up to appeal to the Call of Duty fans with a perk system and class leveling.  There are multiple classes to chose from, from a heavily armored soldier, to a medic with a repair gun, and a few guns and abilities to unlock and equip. So far, so Bad Company 2. The maps are interesting enough – lots of chrome and moving parts, multiple levels, and a few hidey holes for sniper-types. Sadly, no objective-based game modes seem to be popular, with most players seeming to gravitate to the old Team Deathmatch, which is a shame as this exposes a lot of flaws in the rather small maps.

Which brings me on to my big (read: BIG) complaint: You are a Transformer. You can, at any time, turn into a tank, a sports car, a jet-fighter, a fire-engine or whatever… So why are the maps designed around you having a walking speed akin to a snail with a stubbed toe? I’m serious, its horribly confined, and choke points are liberally sprinkled all over the place. I can’t help but feel that a Battlefield-style point capture mode, with room to spread your wings/wheels/tracks in would have been such a delight. Dogfighting in the sky as a jet, shelling capture points from a distance in tank-mode, or zipping around scouting as the little car thingy (it looks like a futuristic Audi TT). Why they haven’t made use of your inherent mobility is utterly baffling to me. Its no fun being able to fly when you are in a corridor…

It is a fantastic little game, with a fair few hours of pure enjoyment in its little .exe file. I love a bargain, me. But I love turning into a bullet-spewing, missile-shitting, chrome-plated harbinger of death more. And did I mention it was only a fiver?

*Happy face*

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