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Blackjack's Review: War for Cybertron (PC Version)

Transformers games have generally been hit-and-miss. For a casual gamer like me, seeing Transformers in a video game is irresistible. But while the PC version of the ROTF Game and the Armada game of old are great games, most others are burdened by flaws, the worst being the games meant for Nintendo DS or the ROTF and WFC versions for PS2/Wii.

When the first teaser for War for Cybertron appeared, I was completely blown away by the sheer complexity of the terrain and detail given to the Transformers' animation. And when the trailer -- complete with Trypticon -- came out, I made it my goal in life for the next few months to obtain this game as soon as it is released. Positive reviews -- not just from Transformers fans, but from professional game sites as well -- had me even more excited, especially when they revealed the line up for the game's characters. It included the obvious iconic characters, of course... Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee, Soundwave, Ratchet, Starscream... but seeing Barricade -- based on the semi-obscure G1 Micromaster instead of the ultra-famous movieverse one -- had me giggling uncontrollably. It has been decided, then, that this game's fiction is not written haphazardly. They did research. A trip to Singapore several weeks after WFC reportedly hit the stores brought my hopes up.

As it turns out, though, lady fortune rarely shines her light upon the ever-enthusiastic, and for a week despite my persistent hounding, I couldn't find anything but the crappy (and grossly overpriced) Wii version and those DS ones. I did get several toys, but WFC was more important, damn it! As I was about to leave Singapore dejectedly without any hope of seeing WFC play on my PC, I shuffled into an electronic store in the airport, eyes half-heartedly eyeing the rack of computer games. I wasn't expecting a miracle; those gamer stores in the malls didn't have the game, what chance could a wee little electronic store in an airport could have? The toy stores were still carrying toys from the first movie line, for crying out loud!

But perseverance is rewarded. Yes, it's a happy ending as I spied a stack of WfC cases, with 'Transformers' embalzoned across the center and Optimus Prime firing at something unseen on the cover. A quick five minutes later (and I resisted the urge to cackle joyously. Honest.) and War for Cybertron had became a purchase. 'Enjoy your game', says the guy on the cashier. Hell, yeah- I did.

So, after all the excitement and suspense and whatnot, War for Cybertron has been installed in my computer. As a biased Transformers fan, I naturally loved it. But does it hold up as a game, and as a proper story?

Oh hell, yes.

PLOT SUMMARY
CHAPTER ONE: DARK ENERGON
Playable characters: Megatron, Brawl, Barricade
Setting: Orbital Space Station

Civil war has ravaged Cybertron. Megatron leads a group of his trusted troops in a warship towards an orbital station in a gambit to steal Dark Energon, an ancient power that Megatron hopes would destroy the Autobots. Ramming his warship into the orbital station, Megatron, Barricade and Brawl blast their way through the Autobot troops sent by the station commander, Starscream (who doesn't think too much about Megatron). Megatron tears his way through ambushes and soldiers until they rendezvous with Soundwave, who has established a forward base. With Soundwave's help, Megatron and company is guided to the data matrix center to download the schematics of the station. On the way there, the scientist Jetfire warns Megatron of the dangers of Dark Energon, something that Megatron laughs off. Again, they are met with resistance, but they reach the data center, and Soundwave guides them through a coolant pool and then giant ventilation shafts. They pass a War Machine manufacturing plantsm defeating the enemies there.

However, when they reach what is supposedly a laboratory, they find that a large section of the orbital station has been obliterated and lay in ruins and detritus floating in space. Harrassed by airborne Autobots, Megatron and his team jumps across the detritus as a makeshift bridge to the other side. Despite Barricade's misgivings about the Dark Energon's destructive powers, they press on through the destroyed parts of the station. Finally they reenter the Dark Energon Containment chamber, where Starscream tries to destroy the final quantities of Dark Energon. Megatron and team makes their way throug hordes of guards, but despite Starscream's bravado, Megatron breaks the containment chamber and infuses himself with Dark Energon. Despite Starscream's warnings, Megatron was somehow able to control Dark Energon, using the raw power to murder large parts of Starscream's troopers. Megatron then grants part of the Dark Energon to Brawl and Barricade, and the three super-powered Decepticons break into Starscream's vaults.

Megatron claims the orbital station for the Decepticon cause, but at the cost of almost finishing the supply of the Dark Energon in the space station. Confronted with Megatron, Starscream pledges allegiance to the Decepticons, informing Megatron of the existence of an Energon Bridge that would be able to beam Energon up to the station to begin production of Dark Energon anew. Jetfire, horrified by Starscream's treachery, flies off to warn Zeta Prime, while Megatron dispatches Starscream and his troops to activate the Energon Bridge.

CHAPTER TWO: FUEL OF WAR
Playable characters: Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker
Setting: Underground Caverns

Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker fly from the orbital station down to Cybertron and enter the underground caverns via the Kaon canyon. However, what is supposed to be a quick trek becomes complicated by the Autobot presence who has been alerted to Autobot treachery. Starscream and the Seekers navigate through the wide expanse of natural caverns underneath Cybertron's surface, until they arrive on an underground energon reservoir. Flying through the beautiful fountains, they were beset with a giant, platform-like Autobot dropship. Dogfighting against the Autobot jets and the dropship itself, the Seekers manage to overload the ship from the inside and access the entrance to the Underground. After a long and tenuous battle over the gates, the Seekers manage to eliminate all the Autobots, and flies deeper into the core through the tunnels to reactivate power to the Energom Bridge. The Seekers encounter Energon Jellyfishes through their journey, and destroy them. Starscream and company tear their way throug the Autobots as they journey through the complex tunnels of underground and finally into a power routing station that allows power to flow into the Energon Bridge Chamber, which they enters. Despite Thudercracker's warnings, Starscream plants a Dark Energon detonation-pack onto the large reservoir underneath Cybertron, corrupting the Energon in the reservoir... and accidentally reactivating the ancient Sentinel in the room. Locking the Seekers inside, the machinery begins to battle them. The Seekers manage to overload the circular machine, just in time for the corruption to take hold. The corruption runs wild, and the Seekers frantically follow the tendrils of corruption as it tears a path back to the surface.

The Seekers watch as the Energon Bridge transforms, and fires a beam of corrupted Energon through a series of lenses into the orbital base. As the Seekers regroup there, Megatron and Soundwave loom over a holographic projection of Iacon, planning their next move...

CHAPTER THREE: IACON DESTROYED
Playable characters: Megatron, Soundwave, Breakdown
Setting: Iacon

Megatron plans to corrupt the very core of Cybertron itself with Dark Energon. But to do so, he needs to locate the Omega Key, an ancient artifact that unlocks the gateway to Cybertron's Core. To obtain the Key, Megatron launches a full-scale assault on the Autobot capital of Iacon. Leaving Starscream and Brawl to lead the main Decepticon army, Megatron leads two of his most trusted lieutenants -- Soundwave and Breakdown -- to the Stellar Galleries to procure the Omega Key.

Tearing through the courtyards and the Autobot defenders, Megatron's little squad watches as the explosions rattle the skies of Iacon, and as casualties fall on both sides. Megatron's team tear their way through a sniper-infested security station until they reach the Stellar Galleries proper. The Decepticon shoot down the moons orbitting Cybertron and corrupt the holographic planet, and they open the circular sphere that holds the Omega Key... only to find that it is empty. A hologram of Zeta Prime, the Autobot leader, appears and mocks Megatron. A group of Autobots ambush Megatron's squad, but they quickly make short work of their enemies. Soundwave traces Zeta Prime's signal, and they make their way through the dark maze of Iacon's subsystems and ventilation shafts, finding themselves in Iacon's subway system.

The Decepticons race through the security systems in the subway tunnels, narrowly dodging mines and trains, until they make a stand-off in a transit center against waves of Autobots. The Decepticons make their way up, finding themselves in a building overlooking the streets leading to the Iacon vaults. Brawl is there, single-handedly throwing off a legion of Autobot ground troopers. Megatron's squad make their way to Brawl to breach the Iacon Vaults, but their Dark Energon powers are unable to break open the vaults. Brawl calls an airstrike, but Autobot anti-aircraft turrets shoot down the Dark Energon bombers. Starscream denies Brawl of the use of any more bombers... until he realizes that Megatron is with Brawl, a fact that makes him comply quickly.

While waiting for the bombers, Megatron's squad, assisted by Brawl, take out the anti-aircraft cannons, corrupting them with Dark Energon. Then they have to make a lengthy stand in the streets against waves and waves of Autobots before Starscream's bombers drive in and blow open the entrance to the Iacon vaults. They are beset by a gigantic Autobot tank, but defeat the monstrousity quickly. Tearing their way through the last defenders of the vaults, Megatron and company finds themselves in a circular room, where Zeta Prime holds the Omega Key. Putting a forcefield and a giant energon copy of himself, Zeta Prime uses his mastery to make energon clones of himself, as well as use the ceilings in an attempt to crush the Decepticons. Megatron's team defeat Zeta Prime's machinery, and Megatron tears the key Zeta Prime's chest. However, the dying Zeta laughs as the key begins to beep. Zeta tells Megatron that the device is not the real key, but instead merely activates the key.

In the distance, Omega Supreme activates, and with an ominous voice promises destruction to the Decepticons...

CHAPTER FOUR: DEATH OF HOPE
Playable characters: Megatron, Soundwave, Breakdown
Setting: Building Complex

Megatron, Soundwave and Breakdown ride in a bomber ship in search of the Omega Key, using the device they stole from Zeta Prime to track Omega in the skies of Iacon. Omega Supreme finds them, however, and only Breakdown's fast reflexes as a pilot saves them from being destroyed like their wingmate. Starscream's squad flies in to rescue Megatron's party, who had crashed onto the side of the bridge, but Omega Supreme lands and massacres the Decepticons, their weapons ineffective against the gigantic Autobot. Starscream retreats into the skies while Megatron's squad escapes into a large building complex.

While Megatron makes their way through the building's interior and destroy the Autobots, they hear an announcement of Starscream declaring himself leader of Decepticons after Megatron's death. Megatron is enraged, but they couldn't contact their troops from their location. They make their way to a lift, but Omega Supreme, in his rocket mode, opens fire, forcing the lift to a freefall. The Decepticons escape through a service shaft, but Omega opens fire with his impressive array of weaponry, obliterating the scaffolds outside the building until Megatron's squad barelt escapes back inside the building. They defeat more Autobots, and barely survive as Omega uses his hand to try and suck the Decepticons. The Decepticons escape, but Omega keeps hounding them, firing with his plasma bolts whenever they pass an open window. They enter a control dome and destroy the Autobots there, before racing through the highway, narrowly surviving Omega's bombing run as they enter an adjacent building that Soundwave detects as having adequate weaponry to bring down Omega.

As they enter a courtyard. Omega drops a large batallion of Autobots from his cargo bay. Megatron manages to contact Starscream, who, alongside his Seekers, distracts Omega Supreme with a bomb long enough for Megatron's squad to clear the Autobots in the courtyard. They try to enter the lift (despite Breakdown's misgivings) but Omega blocks their way, forcing them to drive like madmen into the maintenance tunnels. Navigating through power conduits and an ambush in the terminal, they make their way into the lift and rise into a terrace mounted with turrets that could damage Omega Supreme. After clearing the Autobots there, Omega Supreme flies up and attacks.

The Decepticons make a stand, using the ion displacers and nucleon shock cannons in the area to try and whittle Omega Supreme's armour, but it's a slow process, complicated with Omega Supreme's powerful radial attacks and his constant supply of Aerialbots. After a tenuous battle, they damage Omega Supreme's engines enough to cause him to plummet down to the ground. Soundwave informs them that Omega is not yet defeated, and the three jump down to finish off the Autobots' guardian once and for all...

CHAPTER FIVE: THE FINAL GUARDIAN
Playable characters: Megatron, Soundwave, Breakdown
Setting: Ruins

Megatron, Breakdown and Soundwave jump down just in time to see Omega Supreme crash land and transform into his robot mode. The Decepticons press the attack on Omega. Soundwave deduces that attacking Omega's turrets could damage him. Despite Omega's deadly array of weaponry and his penchant of healing himself with Energon canisters, the Decepticons manage to sneak Dark Energon into the healing canisters to damage Omega Supreme enough to render him vulnerable.

After a long and tenuous battle, Omega Supreme draws energy from Cybertron, but Soundwave finds out that his chest armour is exposed, allowing the Decepticons to keep firing at that part until Omega falls. Megatron walks in front of the humbled titan, and blasts Dark Energon straight into the Autobot, utterly corrupting him.

As the entire Decepticon army watches aptly, Megatron orders the helpless Omega Supreme to open the Omega Gate, allowing them access to the Core of Cybertron. There, Megatron sends a massive infusion of Dark Energon into the Core itself, bring Cybertron more under Megatron's control...

CHAPTER SIX: DEFEND IACON
Playable characters: Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Bumblebee
Setting: Decepticon-Razed Iacon

Iacon is ruined, with fires breaking all over and numerous buildings damaged. With the loss of both Zeta Prime and Omega Supreme, the Autobots were disorganized. Soundwave's hacking into the Autobots' communications systems necessitates the usage of messengers like Bumblebee, who braves a squad of Decepticons to search a commander named 'Optimus'. He soon meets up with Optimus Prime and the medic Ratchet. Upon hearing of Zeta Prime's death, Optimus Prime assumes temporary leadership and begins to rally the Autobots. Optimus contacts Jetfire, who needs help in activating the planetary guns in order to drive the Decepticons out of the skies. Optimus Prime and his party watches as a Decepticon warship is shot down, and they shoot down the enemy survivors, while Ratchet heals the injured they meet. After defeating the Decepticons, they enter a building that allows them to activate the planetary guns, which shoot down the Decepticon warships with ease. Optimus leads his team to defeat the Decepticons they meet. They witness the deployement of the Decepticon War Machines, which spread Dark Energon wherever they bore to the ground. Jetfire arrives, impressed, and helps them open the Iacon speedway.

A transparent tunnel-like speedway that extends when a Transformer passes through it, Optimus Prime's team drive through the Speedway towards the Decagon until a sabotage effort by Soundwave's agents blow a portion of it, sending Optimus Prime's team down onto a lower level. They take out the Decepticon troops they meet, and as they enter a terminal building, they see propaganda videos of Megatron, and Soundwave himself dispatches troops to eliminate Optimus Prime's party. However, they manage to survive and enter a hall filled with Dark Energon Spikes. A giant, spider-like Decepticon War Machine stands in front of the hall. Optimus Prime and his team manage to destroy the War Machine and reenter the Speedway, but it is damaged and Optimus Prime's team have to make their way through the broken streets, tearing their way through the Decepticon invaders, defeating a second War Machine in the process. Needing to reach the Decagon speedway, they access the energon pools in the cental ventilation systems, until they reach the Decagon Plaza. Ironhide has set up shop in the armoury with his large unit of Autobots, ready to retake the Decagon Plaza from the Decepticons.

Optimus Prime's party joins the battle, facing through seemingly endless waves of Decepticons guarding the Decagon Plaza. Ironhide is impressed by Optimus Prime, and with his bare hands, lift a fallen statue to allow Optimus' team access into the Decagon. The Decepticons have retaken the building, but Optimus Prime's team defeat the Decepticons inside, restoring the communications grid and encountering Sky Commander Starscream in the communications room. They drive Starscream off after a fierce battle, and retook the Decagon, enabling the Autobot forces to counterattack. Optimus Prime is viewed as their new leader, but the humble Autobot told the others that it's just until Zeta Prime returns, or until the High Council comes out of hiding. However, shortly after they receive a transmission from a still-living Zeta Prime, who is being held in the Kaon Prison. Ratchet warns that it's a trap, but Optimus insists that no matter how small the chance, they must attempt to rescue Zeta Prime...

CHAPTER SEVEN: KAON PRISON BREAK
Playable characters: Optimus Prime, Sideswipe, Bumblebee
Setting: Kaon Prison

In an attempt to rescue Zeta Prime from the clutches of the Decepticons, Optimus Prime, Sideswipe and Bumblebee let themselves be captured by a group of Decepticons, and were carried to the Decepticon city of Kaon, specifically the fortress like prison. Stripped from their weapons, Soundwave orders Optimus' team to be 'recycled'. As the bound Autobots are moved to the execution chamber, they witness the brutal treatment of the Autobot prisoners. Just as the Decepticons were about to fire on them, Air Raid flies in like planned and frees Optimus' group. Air Raid buys them time to escape via the air vents, but at the cost of being captured himself. Making do with their melee weapons to defend against the Spiderbots that swarm the ducts, Optimus and his team break out and ambush the guards resting in the guardroom, stealing their weaponry. Thus armed, the Autobots then tear their way through the Decepticon guards and Wallcralwers. They charge into an arena-like courtyard, and are ambushed. Part of the wall transforms into Megatron's face, taunting Optimus Prime while the Autobots battle a group of Decepticons. Megatron and Optimus apparently knew each other from before, much to Sideswipe's surprise. Megatron gives Optimus an ultimatum, telling him that the war could be over if the Autobots surrendered and leave Cybertron. Optimus' response? They will stay and fight. And win.

However, that moment of bravado is cut short as the room teleports the Autobots into a dungeon cell, again minus their weapons. Soundwave and Rumble taunt them, dragging the captive Air Raid with them. Once Soundwave has left, Optimus Prime uses his mysterious ability to channel power through his battle axe and burn a hole through the dungeon walls. Promising to rescue the other Autobots later, they ambush another group of Decepticon guards and kill several waves of powerful Decepticon guards while the imprisoned Autobots (among others Arcee and Jazz) encourage them. Optimus Prime tears a way into a recycling river where Autobot parts are ground into metal shavings.

The Autobots find Air Raid trapped in a forcefield, and after destroying the computers that held the force field up, they follow Air Raid to a central command room, defeating the hordes of Decepticons in their way. They find Zeta Prime's location, as well as opening every jail cell door, freeing every single Autobot imprisoned in the Prison. The Autobots, grateful of Prime's help, clash against their Decepticon guards.

The freed Autobot prisoners enter dropships to make good their escape, and Optimus dispatches Air Raid to help them to get to Iacon safely. Meanwhile, the Autobots enter the lower levels with a Wallcrawler, and the Autobots drive through the lower levels even as the Decepticons bombard the ground around them. Soon they enter a chamber, seeing Zeta Prime strapped to a large piece of machinery. As the Autobots approach him, a piece of the machinery transforms into Soundwave. Hiding behind a forcefield and several turrets, Soundwave engages the Autobots with his minions Frenzy, Rumble and Laserbeak. The Autobots manage to draw Soundwave out and damage him. As his health drains out, Soundwave steals Zeta Prime's lifeforce to heal himself. Optimus interrupts, forcing Soundwave and his minions to escape. Optimus tells Zeta Prime that they are here to rescue him, but the Autobot leader is already dead, and the machinery is the only thing keeping him alive for the Decepticon's torture. Zeta Prime thanks Optimus for his efforts, then dies. Later, Optimus and his team bring Zeta Prime's corpse to the Autobot High Council, who appoints Optimus as the leader of the Autobots, and as the last Prime.

They tell Optimus not to reject his heritage, and the High Council said that they exist only to choose the next Prime, and Optimus have more than inspired those around him, and had none of the greed or pride that plagued the previous Primes. So the entire faction now rested squarely on Optimus Prime's shoulders, and his first mission is to remove the corruption of Dark Energon from Cybertron's Core...

CHAPTER EIGHT: TO THE CORE
Playable characters: Optimus Prime, Warpath, Ironhide
Setting: Underground Systems/Cybertron's Core

Optimus Prime leads Warpath and Ironhide in a journey to Cybertron's inner levels to access Cybertron's Core. As they enter a Decepticon facility, they see the corrupted Omega Supreme being shackled and tortured by Decepticons. With instructions from Ratchet, they blow up the facility's power generators, and free Omega Supreme from his bonds. The Autobots make a beeline to the large chamber where the damaged and corrupted Omega Supreme is barely standing. Ratchet arrives to repair Omega Supreme, while the other Autobots make a long stand against seemingly endless waves of Decepticons to protect Ratchet until Omega Supreme is fully restored, and with Omega Supreme's help, they are able to open the Omega Gate. Optimus Prime and his team leaved Ratchet to restore Omega to full operational status while they venture deeper into Cybertron's Core.

Optimus Prime and team witness the corrupted undergrounds of Cybertron, with Dark Energon crystals and lakes all around them. Fighting their way through the Decepticon hordes stationed there, the Autobots encounter Space Slugs, gigantic mechanical creatures that are able to break through the crystals of corruption. After Ironhide unsuccesfully uses the Universal Greeting on them, the Space Slugs offer their help, allowing the Autobots to mount them and use the turrets aboard them. The slugs tear their way through the Dark Energon crystals while the Autobots open fire on the Decepticons, but they are also assaulted by a gigantic corrupted worm, which ultimately causes a fissure that drops the Autobots and slugs down.

Separated from the rest of their team, Warpath, Ironhide and Optimus Prime gets separated in an area around a corrupted Energon river. Optimus and Ironhide regroup while Warpath, stuck on a higher level, opens fire on the Spiderbots swarming his teammates. The three Autobots regroup near an eeriely corrupted cavern with a sea of corruption. A group of Space Slugs also help out, tearing onto Decepticons. Optimus and company drive past the sea, and finally reach the corrupted Core of Cybertron, which is engulfed with Dark Energon as well as crystals. The Corrupted Worm has made its residence there, and the Autobots battle valiantly against the monster's devastating attacks, attacking its weak spots. After enough punishment, the Corrupted Worm dies and plummets into the Dark Energon below.

Optimus Prime's presence opens the Core of Cybertron, which cleanses the immediate area from the corruption. A voice, the voice of Cybertron itself, speaks to Optimus Prime. Cybertron has taken too much damage and must shut itself down, taking several million years to repair itself. Cybertron will grow barren and cold, but there is hope. The Core entrusts the Matrix of Leadership to Optimus Prime, leader of the free Autobots, so that Cybertron's core may live on in the Autobot leader...

CHAPTER NINE: AERIAL ASSAULT
Playable characters: Silverbolt, Jetfire, Air Raid
Setting: Space, later Trypticon

After returning from the Core, Optimus Prime orders a planet-wide evacuation of the Autobots through shuttles. However, the Decepticons have a secret weapon that takes the Autobots by surprise. The orbital Space Station has been upgraded to have a gigantic Dark Energon cannon, which shoots down the refugee ships containing the Autobots. With the fate of the entire Autobot race hanging on the destruction of the cannon, Optimus Prime dispatches Silverbolt, Air Raid and Jetfire to destroy the cannon.

Dodging the wreckage of the destroyed shuttle, the Aerial team fly into space, dodging floating mines as well as Decepticon troops. Soon they reach the Station Defender, a giant piece of maw-like machine. Attacking the weapons and then the core of the defender, the Aerial Team fly into a coolant chamber. Much to Air Raid's delight, team leader Silverbolt orders to destroy the machinery that looks important. Tearing through the coolant room and the defenders within, they travel through the Station's interior, Megatron taunts the Aerial Autobots, offering Jetfire an offer to join their forces (something that he immediately refuses). After defeating the waves of Decepticons sent to attack them, the Aerial Autobots fly through the coolant tunnels, navigated by Jetfire, taking out a massive group of powerful Decepticons and overloading the Pulse Regulator. The Autobots hold their ground against the Decepticons' attack, but they successfully overloads the Pulse Regulator and the Autobots narrowly escape as the Nerve Center explodes.

Finding themselves outside the station, they find themselves in an area that overlooks space. The Autobots defeat the Decepticons before flying to the Space Cannon nearby, which has not been deactivated as they think. Flying into the part of the station that houses the massive cannon, they battle Decepticon powerhouses... until the station itself speaks, lauging at the futility of the Autobots. The spooked Autobots nevertheless fly deeper into the station, narrowly avoiding lasers, mashers and other traps. Megatron orders Trypticon (apparently the name of the station) to bombard Iacon, and the Autobots frantically fly towards the Conversion Cog, which Jetfire theorizes would help to break the cannon apart into its alternate form. They enter the dark chamber just as Trypticon begins to target Optimus Prime's position, and as they tear the turrets and Cog apart, their surroundings begin to transform. Trypticon roars, and the Aerial Autobots bolt out as the station begins to transform, narrowly escaping from what turns out to be his mouth. The gigantic dinosaurian Decepticon reveals his true form, with teeth as large as the Autobots.

Trypticon flies towards Cybertron with his jetpack, but the Autobots keep firing onto Trypticon's jetpack, dodging Trypticon's attacks until the jetpack is overloaded. Trypticon falters and plummets down to Cybertron's surface like a meteor. Optimus Prime informs Silverbolt's team that they would handle Trypticon from the ground.

CHAPTER TEN: ONE SHALL STAND
Playable characters: Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Bumblebee
Setting: Iacon Ruins

Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Ironhide, racing through the devastated streetS of Iacon torn apart by Trypticon's earlier bombardment, watch as Trypticon plummets from the sky like a meteor, crashing down onto Cybertron's surface. As Ratchet oversees the evacuation of the Autobots, Optimus leads his team of three to inspect the crash site, navigating through debris and wounded Autobots.

Trypticon rears its tail and slams it to the ground, dropping the three Autobots and Trypticon himself onto a stage like area. Trypticon is all but invulnerable, and his weapons tear the area apart. The Autobots manage to blow up Trypticon's shoulder cannons with nearby canisters, and the arrival of the Autobot jets led by Silverbolt damages Trypticon somewhat, but Trypticon effortlessly shoots the three out of the air. However, Air Raid drops healing charges, and Optimus Prime's team manage to damage Trypticon's chest vents, causing the titanic Decepticon to go beserk and slam the battle to a lower level.

Dodging Trypticon's deadly stream of attacks, the Autobots figure that unlike the rest of him, the power coils on Trypticon's back were vulnerable. After a long battle, the Autobots destroy the power cores. Trypticon stumbles, and Optimus slams the dinosaurian Decepticon in the face, causing him to topple backwards into the abyss below.

Shortly after the battle, Optimus Prime monologues about the war as their Autobot brothers fly into space, while overseeing the construction of a giant shuttle, the Ark...

PLAYABLE CHARACTERS OVERVIEW
Megatron: Playing as Megatron is a bit challenging, because one of your weapon is defaulted to the fusion cannon, so you don't have the luxury to carry, say, both a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher. However, the fusion cannon's damage is very deadly, especially coupled with Megatron's unique power-boosting Drain and Hover abilities. Hover effectively increases Megatron's already respectable damage output, while Drain is simply just deadly -- who else could steal the life of their enemies? Megatron's tank mode is also devastating, but you have to make every shot count, lest you find yourself without any ammunition. Still, Megatron is the Decepticon leader, and playing around with him is simply cool. Since he's in four of the five chapters, it's worth playing with Megatron in at least one.
Barricade: Barricade is only playable in the first chapter. But considering that he's even playable is something. Oh, sure, the name's likely because of his movieverse counterpart, but the personality and the look is based on the obscure G1 guy. Barricade is a scout, and is best for hit-and-run attacks, or sniping. Barricade's barrier ability is great to hold off against larger hordes of enemies, and his vehicle mode's machinegun is deadly as well. Scouts like Barricade and Breakdown are horribly overpowered, in my opinion; they are fast, have machineguns in their vehicle mode and have wacky abilities, while being able to equip themselves with the most powerful weapons.
Brawl: Brawl is, like Barricade, only playable in chapter one. He seems to be a mixture of Movie Brawl's 'unstoppable brute' thing and G1 Onslaught's role as a tactical strategist. A tank in the most literal sense, Brawl is nearly unbeatable when paired side-by-side with Megatron. With his Whirlwind crowd-clearing abilities and his tank mode shells, Megatron and Brawl can clear out large numbers of weaker enemies while Barricade picks off the survivors from a distance. Watch his health, though... it could drop really quickly.
Starscream: The Seekers are only playable in the second chapter. Like all jets, Starscream's got infinite machineguns and heat-seeking missiles in his alternate mode. Also, like all jets he could either hover (like a hover-car) or shoot forwards in his proper tetrajet form. While his voice is irritating, Starscream starts off with his signature null ray weapon, the best sniper weapon. Like the coward he is, Starscream is best suited to sneaking from cover, sniping off the heads from enemy snipers, then switching to vehicle mode to missile Aerialbots. Starscream can hold his own if you don't like cloak-and-dagger tactics, though, and his Hover ability helps immensely in facing off against a large room of enemies.
Skywarp: Skywarp's advantage over the other Seekers is his cooldown ability to disappear, which substitutes for his teleportation abilities, which I suppose is unworkable into the game. Skywarp's best used by sneaking behind a large group of weak enemies, then lobbing grenades into them while activating whirlwind to cut down the enemies... then disappear again once your health is low. It's a lot of fun.
Thundercracker: Thundercracker plays the support role, with his default weapon of a repair ray. However, why settle for repairing others when you can dish out damage? Sure, Dash is impractical, but Thundercracker's Spawn Sentry ability draws fire from enemies. While he doesn't have any cool abilities like Starscream's Hover or Skywarp's Cloak, Thundercracker can easily show up his Seeker teammates.
Soundwave: Soundwave is the support role of the three-Decepticon team of chapters four to six. Like Thundercracker, he starts off with a repair ray, but it's hardly necessary. Soundwave's Barrier and Spawn Sentry (to make do for the lack of a playable Laserbeak or Ravage) abilities are very useful in the siege battles, and his vehicle mode rockets are powerful, but without being as low in ammunition as the tank mode shells. Sadly you can't use Soundwave's boom box mode in-game, though.
Breakdown: Breakdown is basically identical to Barricade in terms of playing, being the hit-and-run member of the team, with the Dash-and-Shockwave combo. However, he is deadly when properly equipped with weapons, since he's not as slow as Megatron or Soundwave, and his Shockwave ability quickly clears any enemy that gets too close. Plus, it's fun to listen to Breakdown's voice.

Optimus Prime: Optimus Prime is simply just cool, with his gigantic battle axe and his unique ion blaster. In contrast to Megatron's fusion cannon (low ammo, huge damage), Optimus Prime's ion blaster is the weakest weapon of all, but fires rapidly like a machinegun. It's not really the best weapon out there, sadly. Even the neutron assault rifle has a larger damage output than the ion blaster! Still, it fires really rapidly and has a large ammo capacity. His unique Warcry ability, the Autobots' version of Hover, buffs not just Optimus, but his companions as well. It's a useful ability and should be abused whenever you can. However, most of the other Autobots have more interesting powers and are not fixed to needing to carry the ion blaster, and as such Optimus was not my first choice in most chapters.
Bumblebee: The resident scout-class of the Autobot forces, Bumblebee's fast speed allows him to excel in hit-and-run tactics. By using Dash and then Shockwave, Bumblebee can clear out a wave of soldiers without taking damage while doing so. Playing him is just like playing Breakdown, although his vehicle mode's odd shape is a bit hard to navigate.
Ratchet: Ratchet is only playable in the sixth chapter (first Autobot chapter), so try him out. You start off with the repair ray, but why bother, unless you're playing multiplayer? Ratchet's Barrier and Spawn Sentry abilities enable him to survive entire sections without taking a single hit. Plus, while being hard to hit with Barrier, Ratchet's rocket weapons are a deadly substitute for tank rockets as well.
Sideswipe: Sideswipe is unquestionably my favourite among the Autobots in terms of playability. His transformation is so smooth, and he just looks cool slashing the Decepticons with that blood-red dagger of his. While Dash is basically redundant without Shockwave to back it up, Sideswipe's Whirlwind ability allows him to clear out entire waves of melee enemies, a useful trick against those irritating Spiderbots. He's just so much fun to play with, and so fast, too!
Ironhide: Ironhide is basically like Optimus Prime in terms of playability. He's a truck, and has the more useful Whirlwind ability, but he's not crippled by having one weapon defaulted into the lame ion blaster. He's a tough guy to damage, as long as you don't get hit too much. Plus, listening to his southern accent is hilarious.
Warpath: Warpath is the only tank among the Autobot forces, and is only playable in chapter eight. His tank turret's damage is deadly, and his Barrier ability only adds to being near-untouchable. It is most useful in the part when defending Ratchet, and Warpath's Shockwave ability is excellent if enemies get too close for weapons.
Air Raid: Air Raid is the Autobot equivalent to Skywarp, able to Cloak and whatnot. The Autobots' flying level is much harder than the Decepticons' one, though, and disappearing from the enemy's sights to heal and then sneak up is an invauluable asset. Whirlwind is a great ability as well, but it does leave you vulnerable to the enemy's attacks.
Jetfire: Jetfire holds the support role of the Aerial Assault team. But with the powerful hordes of enemies, you would do best to stock up with powerful weaponry, especially with Jetfire's damage-increasing Hover ability. Jetfire's Spawn Sentry power is also invaluable when facing off against hordes of Decepticons.
Silverbolt: Silverbolt might be afraid of heights, but like the other jet Autobots he's fun to play with. Barrier, like always, is a great asset during long battles, and his Shockwave ability ensures that Silverbolt is never overwhelmed with the enemy. Unlike the Seekers, which are basically the same design, it is worth changing characters in the middle of the level just to experience the other jet Autobots.

IMPORTANT BOSS FIGHTS OVERVIEW
Energon Sentinel: The final boss of the second level is a runamuck room. The strategy is simple. Remain in jet mode and hover, but be ready to burst forwards at a moment's notice. Juke and fly and avoid the fireballs, as well as the sweeping laser thing. Keep your eyes sharp, since the laser grid could change direction at any time. If you're having problems, rows of healing cubes are near the base of the machine near the reservoir. Whenever the machine exposes its core, fire with your infinite weaponry, and it easily falls.
Zeta Prime: Zeta Prime is the final level boss for chapter three: Iacon Destroyed. He faces the Decepticon team in a room that he controls, while hiding inside a forcefield. Like the Energon Sentinel that the Seekers defeated in chapter two, you need to evade Zeta Prime's attacks and wait for the sphere to open, allowing you to attack. Zeta's attacks alternate between sending the ceiling to fall down on you, or creating Energon Clones of himself, or both (near the end of the battle. Stick to vehicle mode during the falling ceiling part, and drive away like crazy if the floor is glowing red. The first two times, the ceiling follows a pattern (the first is clockwise, while the second is the outer parts and then the inner parts) but the third time, the ceiling actively follows you. When this happens, burn rubber with the boost ability. Zeta's Energon Clones, meanwhile, are more bother than they're worth. Either shoot down a couple with grenades and/or a rapid fire weapon, or simply drive around and ignore them. They'll disappear in time for Zeta to be vulnerable, so keep at it and Zeta will fall.
Omega Supreme: Omega Supreme is the final boss for the Decepticon campaign, and the battle takes place in two stages. The first is when Omega hounds Megatron's team throughout chapter five, until you finally confront Omega on top of a terrace. It will be a long and tenuous battle, since Omega's radial attacks are deadly and could kill you with one blast. To make things more complicated, he can only be damaged with the Ion Displacer (machinegun) or Nucleon Shock Cannon turrets (heavy damage but low ammo) that, if removed, slow down your running speed. Since Omega hates you, he sics Aerialbots at regular intervals as well, so one of your weapons must be a Thermo Rocket Launcher if you want to survive. The recommended turret is the Ion Displacer if you're playing Breakdown, but if you play Soundwave and/or Megatron the Nucleon Shock Cannon might be worth a shot. Empty the turret's ammo to Omega and Omega alone. Always remove a turret, because staying in one spot is suicide. Keep moving, shoot down Aerialbots when you get the chance, and focus all the turret firepower on Omega. His health takes a long to drop, though, and you need to use your abilities and keep healing to survive the battle. Robot mode Omega Supreme, faced on chapter six, takes a shorter time to defeat, if a bit more challenging. Soundwave or Breakdown is recommended for this fight because of their speed. Omega will use his array of weaponry to bear. His signature move is sucking you up with his right hand and throwing you away. You die immediately. Well, if it's in co-op mode your teammate must survive you. Omega's favourite attack, though, is launching lots of missiles from his left hand. Evade them with your alternate mode or double jumps. Turrets pop out from him as well, and you must destroy them, preferably with the sniper weapons. Oh, and stay away from moving directly to engage him or he'll do an AOE attack that knocks you away. Keep moving through the covers -- they are all destroyable, so you must try and finish the battle before Omega destroys all the cover. When he leans down to heal from the enegon canister after you destroy four turrets, beeline it to the energon canister (they appear between four random corners) and corrupt it. This is essential, or Omega will keep healing and regenerating himself. Everytime Omega ingests Dark Energon, open fire as much as you could (the X12 Scrapmaker or Megatron's Fusion Cannon is recommended) until Omega's health falls, disabling his attractor claw and his turrets. A couple of Aerialbots will come to harass you; quickly kill them before Omega heals himself. After the Aerialbots are killed, Omega will stand up and unleash several new attacks. The most annoying and deadly one is a barrage of rockets that fly out of his shoulders. Use your alternate mode to evade this. The next attack is the replacement of his attractor beam, a simple ball of energy that he launches from his right hand. Again, avoid this. You need to keep firing towards his chest. Two Ion Displacer turrets are available on the flick of a switch. Quickly scramble for these, rip them out of their mounts and let them rip. Otherwise, keep pouring onto Omega with the Fusion Cannon and/or X12 Scrapmaker. Keep moving and running around, Spawn Sentry if you're playing as Soundwave, and keep picking up ammunition for your weaponry. Eventually Omega Supreme will fall.
Starscream: The final boss of chapter six, the first chapter for the Autobot campaign. Starscream is an easy enemy. He's just like the normal enemy jets with a larger chunk of heath. At first, he'll use his Hover ability, and alternate between shooting at you and transforming to jet mode and divebombing you with missiles. When he's in robot mode, fire at him with everything you have, and use Dash or Barrier to avoid the missiles, or simply hide in the corridors. After his health is halves, he assumes his robot mode and throws EMP Grenades, as well as using missiles as a radial attack. Avoid the grenades because they'll put your point of view to static for a while. Optimus' Warcry should be activated whenever possible, as well as Ratchet's Barrier and Spawn Sentry, to give as much advatage as possible. Keep up the firepower directed at him, keep moving, and Starscream easily falls.
Soundwave: Soundwave's bark is worse than his bite. Being the coward he is, he hides behind his forcefield and uses sonic blasts (like EMP grenades) and sentry turrets to attack you. After destroying the sentries, he sends Frenzy, Rumble and Laserbeak to attack you in that order. Whenever you defeat one of his minions, Soundwave rushes out to rescue his pal. Attack him with everything you've got during these moments when he exits his forcefield. If you burn one-thirds of his health, he will retreat and activate sentry turrets (and then send the next minion). If you don't, he'll revive the Cassette with full health. It's relatively easy to defeat him, really. When you attack him after defeating Laserbeak, he'll be downed for the count.
Frenzy: Frenzy is the the first minion sent out by Soundwave. He is relatively harmless. He wields a little gun, but his main attack is hovering and sending a sonic scream at you. It really hurts, but it can only move in one direction. Use Dash or simply transform to avoid it, and keep attacking him, and he'll fall.
Rumble: Rumble uses an earthquake attack with his piledriver punch. What else did you expect? Stay away from Rumble at all costs, use your vehicle mode, Dash, jump, anything- and avoid the earthquake. If you get trapped in it, your health will fall quickly. His second attack is a charge attack like the Payloads of the first Movie game, but this is easily avoided. Keep up fire on him and he falls as quickly as his brother.
Laserbeak: Laserbeak is the final minion. He flies around, making him a harder target than Rumble or Frenzy. His machineguns are annoying, but his laser blasts cut out a huge chunk of your health as well, so avoid getting even near to him. Finish him off quickly.
Corrupted Worm: Before you get to the Core so Optimus could get the Matrix from Primus, a monstrous Corrupted Worm stands in your way. The worm's weak spot is his mouth and his lower part of the body, but he protects it with his mandibles. You can only shoot his mouth when he's draining energy from the energon pool, otherwise you need to avoid his attacks and keep shooting his mandibles off to damage him. The Worm has a lot of attacks, which involves slamming his claws in a large radial attack (you jump to avoid it), or create Dark Energon crystals that either explode or create spiderbots when he does the ground slam attack, so blow them up as quickly as possible. He also shoots laser blasts from his eyes, and later on from his mouth. Avoid the attacks. At one-third intervals of his health, he will scuttle up and launch sacs of spiderbots that you must destroy. Keep shooting his mouth (and stomach) and you'll kill him.
Trypticon: Unlike Omega, Trypticon is much more massive, and our heroes find themselves literally navigating through the belly of the beast. Once you damage the conversion cog, you need to quickly fly out of his mouth before he closes his mouth. Trypticon then transforms, and you have to keep firing on the jetpack on his back to ground him. Keep flying (the wind drag thing makes balance a little hard) and avoid Trypticon's simple laser blasts and rockets, and keep firing at his jetpack with your infinite weapons, and he plummets to Cybertron easily. However, the next stage of the battle, fought by the ground team, is a much harder battle than the simple thing the Aerial team needs to do. I find that Bumblebee is the ideal choice for the boss fight with his fast vehicle mode speed, and his Shockwave attack deals a wipes out the Spiderbots easily. All three Autobots have the Dash ability, essential to escape from Trypticon's attacks. If you're playing Optimus or Ironhide, use Warcry whenever you get the chance to. The first part of the battle is fought on an arena-like area. Trypticon either attacks with his shoulder cannons or by spitting energy balls at you. Avoid these attacks by transforming or dashing. Unlike Omega Supreme, Trypticon is invincible and cannot be damaged by simply firing at him. Flick on the switch and pick up a sniper gun (the null ray is reccommended) to shoot the canisters passing beside Trypticon's shoulder cannons while avoiding his attacks. Destroy both shoulder cannons, and the cavalry (the Aerial team) arrives and drops an Overshield before being shot out of the sky. Heal, then get ready to damage Trypticon again. His mouth attacks become more rapid, and he would periodically slam his tail onto one half of the arena. Avoid this by driving to the other side. Now the target is the chest coils. Overheat them by shooting them, and Trypticon slams all of you to a lower level. Now Trypticon crouches over you and utilizes three deadly attack, each of which could kill you. Keep moving to avoid this attacks. The first is a barrage of missiles from his back similar to Omega Supreme, and is really hard to evade unless you drive. The second attack is purple blasts from his mouth. You can shoot these down, but it takes a while and you'll be better off running away. The third is Trypticon's deadly scorpion-like attack, announced by his deep laugh. Trypticon will aim at either the right, left or center of the arena. You can tell that he's aiming by the floating debris there. Drive the hell away, or you die immediately by the missile attack. If you evade this, Dark Corruption crystals will appear. Destroy these before the spiderbots come out. Destroy these as quickly as possible while avoiding the rest of Trypsy's attack. After a while, you'll be told that you need to attack the three power cores on Trypticon's back. Do so. Use the X12 Scrapmaker, Ion Rifle, Scatter Blaster or Neutron Assault Rifle, these weapons deal a lot of damage in the short times you have a chance to hurt Trypticon. The others are all next to useless in this battle. Destroy all three power cores and Optimus punches Trypticon's face, causing him to topple to a chasm.

MULTIPLAYER CHARACTERS
Arcee: Arcee cameos in one of the prison cells in the Kaon Prison Base, standing with her hands on her hips, seemingly admiring her manicure while Optimus' team walk walk past. She is seen oh so very briefly leading the Autobot refugees away during the mass breakout. She is playable in the Escalation and Multiplayer modes once you have finished the Autobot campaign. She had the Cloak and Shockwave abilities, a deadly combination.
Slipstream: Slipstream is apparently the default bad-girl of the Decepticons now, after her Animated counterpart gained popularity. She is basically the same with Arcee, only that she can fly. Like Arcee, she is only playable in Escalation and Multiplayer modes, and is unlocked after finishing the Decepticon campaign.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT:
Jazz: Jazz cameos in the Kaon Prison level, being imprisoned in the cell beside Arcee, doing push-ups to while his time. He is later seen very briefly during the mass breakout on a lower level, leading the Autobots to safety. Jazz is also featured in the credits. He is a Multiplayer exclusive if you preorder the game from Best Buy, or Amazon.com if you're in UK, as well as being part of the first DLC pack.
Shockwave: Shockwave is, well, Shockwave in all his glory. No cameos for him, sadly. He is a Multiplayer exclusive if you preorder from Gamestop, as well as the first DLC pack.
Demolishor: Based on the Armada character, Demolishor is a Multiplayer exclusive if you preorder from Amazon.com, or Play.com if you're in UK.
Scattorshot: Scattorshot, who cameos in the credits, is part of the first DLC pack, and is based on the Cybertron incarnation of the character. Concept art for Scattershot, Onslaught and Dead End are all in the bonus art bits.
Onslaught: Onslaught is part of the DLC pack, but unlike all the other characters he is not visually based on a prior incarnation of Onslaught.
Dead End: Dead End is a remold of the Barricade/Breakdown model with a different head and shoulder kibble. He was part of the second DLC pack.
Zeta Prime: Zeta Prime was originally meant to be playable, but the designers decided against it. He's later inserted as part of the second DLC pack.

WEAPONS OVERVIEW
Neutron Assault Rifle: Each character can equip themselves between two weapons, and can switch between them at anytime, and switch the weapons they equipped with those on the ground (with the exception of Optimus, who must carry the Ion Blaster as a weapon, and Megatron, who must carry the Fusion Cannon). The neutron assault rifle is the equivalent to a handgun, the Neutron Assault Rifle nevertheless is very useful with its rapid-fire movement and large ammo storage. It's very useful against large crowds, although the damage output leaves something to be desired.
Magma Frag Launcher: The best weapon against those annoying Brutes, the Magma Frag launcher launches a sticky bomb that sticks onto the enemy until detonated (by pressing the 'fine aim' button for other weapons). However, in normal situations it's not that great of a weapon, since the explosion can damage you as well.
EMP Shotgun: The damage output is the largest of most weapons, but it only holds two shots per clip and works only at a short distance. Most likely you'll miss, anyway... much better sticking with other weapons.
Thermo Rocket Launcher: Besides from looking awesomely chunky, the Rocket Launcher is most effectively used against Aerialbots or Seekers, since it immediately locks onto any enemy in vehicle mode, guaranteeing an instant kill. It's also deadly against normal enemies, although it has a very low ammo capacity.
Photon Burst Rifle (2X): The weakest sniper weapon, the Photon Rifle zooms in a little, and stalls slightly every three shots, although the large magazine sort of makes up for it. Not reccommended, since its damage is very low. Best sticking with the Null Ray to snipe enemies.
Energon Battle Pistol (5X): The middle ground between the Photon Rifle and the Null Ray, the Energon Battle Pistol functions well as a hand-held weapon and a sniper weapon, although the rate of fire is very low.
Null Ray (10X): The best sniper weapon out there, the null ray zooms in to ten timex magnification, allowing precise headshots to enemy snipers. While deadly as a sniper weapon, the null ray's ammunition is very low and it's a pain to aim in closer range.
Energon Repair Ray: A gigantic healing gun that sprays a ray on your allies to heal them. As an offensive weapon it does negligible damage, though, except to the weakest of enemies. Useful in multiplayer, useless in the campaign with all the healing cubes laying around.
Scatter Blaster: One of the best weapons, the Scatter Blaster has a quick rate of fire, considerable damage and slams onto a rather wide area, good for flushing out cloakers or simply killing lots of enemies in one blow. The drawback is the rather low ammunition you can carry.
Plasma Cannon: The Plasma Cannon charges a ball of energy and launches it to the enemy. The longer it's charged, the larger the damage. Drains through ammunition like a demon, though. Useful in fights against slow-moving enemies with large health like Destroyers, Titans and whatnot, but there are other weapons out there.
X12 Scrapmaker: The best rapid-fire weapon, with a high damage output, a very quick reload cycle and rapid-fire abilities, the X12 is no doubt the best weapon in the game's arsenal. Whenever you come across it, don't let it go. It takes some time to wind up through the first shots, but the next hundred shots afterwards are unstoppable.

Ion Blaster: The weapon unique to Optimus Prime is sadly not that powerful. With the lowest damage output per shot (even compared to the Neutron Assault Rifle), it tries to make up for it with a large magazine and the fastest firing rate, but it's rather lame, to be honest.
Fusion Cannon: Megatron's fusion cannon has low ammunition, and a low rate of fire but the damage output is large, especially when using Hover, and hits a large area at the same time with a splash damage. Even misses can still deliver damage to the enemy. Certainly a respectable weapon.

Machine Gun (Car/Jet): Cars (Scout-class Transformers like Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Breakdown et al) have a machine gun as their vehicle mode weapon. So do the jets, with infinite ammunition for them, too. These machineguns are great for quickly clearing a room when your robot-mode weapons are useless or out of ammunition. Just press the trigger button and spray bullets.
Rocket (Truck): The rockets have slightly more ammunition thank tank shells, but lower damage. Trucks like Optimus, Ironhide, Soundwave and Ratchet have this weapon in their vehicle mode. Like the other vehicle mode weapons, these could hold the enemy at bay while you scramble for an ammo power-up.
Tank Turret (Tank): The advantage of being a tank (Megatron, Brawl and Warpath) means that their vehicle mode weapons are deadly. They function like Megatron's fusion cannon -- slow rate of fire, deadly damage (though not as much as the fusion cannon) and splash damage. Granted, it's hard to aim, but it's deadly in narrow corridors.
Missiles (Jets): Basically Thermo Rocket Launchers. These can lock on to airborne enemies or drones, and are in infinite supply, which makes the missiles the prime weapon to choose when dogfighting against enemy jets.

Ion Displacer: Througout your journey, you will encounter turrets. When mounted, they have infinite ammunition and do not need recharging, but roots you to the spot. So why not remove them and carry them around? The turrets are stuck on your hands and slows down your speed (and disables switching to your other two weapons without dropping the turret). However, these turrets are simply deadly. The Ion Displacer is a machinegun with 300 shots when ripped off, and could take down all but the most powerful enemies if you keep up fire on him.
Nucleon Shock Cannon: In contrast to the Ion Displacer, the Nucleon Shock Cannon has ten shots when ripped off its mount, but deal a massive amount of damage. While overkill to use on normal enemies, it's ideal during 'holding a stand' missions, or fighting a boss with a large amount of health like Destroyers, Titans or Omega Supreme.

MELEE ATTACKS: And, last but not least, don't forget the melee attacks. At the press of a button your character unfurls their weapon of choice (short scimitars and daggers for cars, axes for Autobot trucks, mauls for Decepticon trucks, clubs for jets, a two-bladed axe for Optimus Prime and a spiked cudgel for Megatron) and slams down on the enemy. While deadly, this also allows the enemy to get a good shot or two on you, so try shooting them before punching them, yes?

Flak Grenades: You can carry three grenades of one kind at any time. Flak Grenades are the normal grenades, dealing a large amont of damage but at the cost of possibly hitting and killing you at close range.
EMP Grenades: Causes enemies to convulse and spasm in the air for a bit, and flushes out invisible Cloakers, leaving them easy prey for your guns. EMP grenades can stun you as well if you're too close.
Thermo Mines: While not as powerful as frag grenades, when they are deployed, they hunt down their own quarry like a magnet.
Energon Grenades: Throw them and they create a healing field for you and any nearby allies. A much better healing weapon than the Energon Repair Ray.

POWERS OVERVIEW
Dash: There are two kinds of powers. Cooldown, or Resource. Cooldown is what it says: you use them, but you need to wait for some time before you can use it again. Resource means that you need to gather enough energon shards (blinking lights given out when you kill an enemy) before using them. Dash is the most common ability, being shared between Optimus, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Brawl, Breakdown and Thundercracker. You jump to the side with an additional burst of speed -- rather useless in battle unless you're dodging from Trypticon's attacks, or if you have Shockwave to blast a large crowd of weak enemies.
Barrier: Barrier is the best defensive ability. Owned by Ratchet, Warpath, Soundwave, Barricade and Silverbolt, you create a short forcefield in the area immediately in front of you. You can walk throug this forcefield, but bullets slam harmlessly on it. It's a great asset in more difficult battles with lots of enemy waves.
Cloak: You disappear for a time. It's awesome. You walk behind a group of unsuspecting enemies, and without warning launch several grenades, and use Whirlwind on them, killing numerous enemies at one point. You become visible once you throw your attack, but your enemies are disoriented, right? Only Skywarp and Air Raid have this ability in the campaign (and the females in multiplayer), regretably.
Hover: You hover in space with jet boots. An ability usable by Megatron, Starscream and Jetfire, this increases weapon damage dramatically, at the cost of being slow moving and being visible to everyone.

Warcry: Optimus Prime's resource ability is Warcry, a power that increases damage output and armour of the nearby allies. Use this evwry time the bar goes full and you'll have an easy time going through battles.
Spawn Sentry: The resource ability of the scientists (Ratchet, Soundwave, Jetfire and Thundercracker), Spawn Sentry creates a floating turret that fire on the enemy. It's useful to draw fire from enemy forces, or simply to add damage to your attacks. Don't put the sentry behind a barrier, though.
Shockwave: The most common Resource ability, used by Bumblebee, Warpath, Barricade, Silverbolt, Starscream, Breakdown, Arcee and Slipstream. However, it is very useful, especially when used in conjunction with Dash or Cloak. It blasts everyone around you away, causing damage, leaving them disoriented for your teammates to pick off, or for you to hack them down with your melee blades.
Whirlwind: Your upper torso rotates while you brandish your melee weapon while you walk. It's a bit silly, but the damage is something. For Brawl and Ironhide it's ideal. However, for Sideswipe, Skywarp and Air Raid, who have less armour than their tank counterparts, they could lose their health rapidly from enemy firepower while whirling.
Drain: An ability unique to Meegatron, you siphon health from your enemies while attacking. Awesome.

ENEMIES
Car Soldiers: The rank-and-file of the Autobot and Decepticon forces, car soldiers come in various colours (with different healths), wielding Neutron Assault Rifles. More powerful soldiers are equipped with Thermo Rocket Launchers, sending heat-seeking missiles at you.
Seekers/Aerialbots: They can fly, and they engage you with machineguns, rockets and bombing runs. The Thermal Rocket Launcher is the best weapon to instantly bring down a large number of these enemies.
Protector: Sleek-looking, these guys hang on the back, firing with their weapons. They have a lot of health.
Shotgunner: The Shotgunner sports an Overshield, meaning that you have to take it down before killing it. He launches flak grenades at you, but if you get close for a melee attack, shotgunners blast away a large chunk of your health with their EMP shotguns. Occassionally, some Protectors may be equipped with Shotgunner abilities as well.
Rocketeer: Rocketeers hide behind invulnerable shields. At regular intervals they float up and open fire with their rocket launchers. Either wait for their shields to drop, or simply flank them from the side or back.
Sniper: Snipers are basic car soldiers equipped with null rays. One of the most irritating enemies, they hide from rooftops and whatnot, letting other enemies do their work for them. Find cover and kill them with your own sniper weapon.
Cloaker: Insane, cackling skeletal-like enemies, the cloakers can anish into thin air. The only telltale signs are the slight distortion when they are beside you, or the ball of light when they charge their Plasma Cannons. Machineguns or the Scatter Blaster are ideal, while EMP Grenades bring any nearby Cloaker into visible spasms.
Brute: Brutes are gigantic, hammer wielding Transformers. If you get close, they will unleash a shockwave that slows your movement speed, and his hammer deals deadly attack. The only way to damage it is to shoot his glowing backpack, a tough job since the Brute's attention is almost always directed on you. EMP Grenades can be used to stun it, while Magma Frag Launchers can be launched approximately onto the Brute's back to land a definite hit. Alone, they are easy to outwit. Together with other Brutes or Titans, these guys are deadly.
Titan: Roadbuster-esque giants, they wield Ion Displacers that spray bullets to you. Counter with your most powerful weapons (or better yet, turrets of your own) from a cover. He takes a lot of beating before he goes down, though. When a Titan dies, you can claim his Ion Displacer for your own.
Tank/Destroyer/Defender: Tanks, otherwise called Destroyers or Defenders, are gigantic hulking Autobots or Decepticons that serve as mid-level bosses of sorts. In their alternate modes, you can only damage him from his vulnerable exhaust vent on his behind. Do not get near, or he will unleash a Shockwave. The Tank's turret launches a stream of deadly, continuous fire that tears terrain apart, and no character can stand against its firepower for too long. When it transforms into his robot mode, he alternates between his deadly turret attack or by using a Magma Frag Launcher. Keep firing until all his armour falls off, preferably with a turret, and he'll keel over eventually. Tanks are most deadly encountered in pairs (or worse -- two Tanks and two Titans, as you'll encounter in the Trypticon level).
Sentry Turrets: The Sentry turrets either fire simple projectiles, heat seeking missiles, or repair nearby enemies. Either way, they will pop out from the ceiling, floor or wall, and you should snipe them off before they can do much damage.

Cybertron Sweeper: A ball-like scanning device, the Sweepers are only encountered early on in the second level. They attack with low energy beams and turn slowly, so they are easy prey to the Seekers' missiles.
Energon Jellyfish: During the Seekers' trek through the deeper parts of Cybertron, these large, graceful jellyfishes abruptly pop out and dive towards the Seekers. Thundercracker is intrigued with them, but don't let that stop you from blowing them up.
Zeta Prime Clones: Encountered during the boss fight with Zeta Prime, these holographic copies are pushovers when alone, but deadly when they surround you. Attacking with spears, destroy them with your vehicle mode weapons while you zoom around the room, avoiding them until Zeta's machine opens.
Mine: Circular balls that explode, encountered in Iacon's subways, or when Omega Supreme decides to rain on your day, or when you fly to Trypticon. Shoot them, evade them, just don't touch them.
War Machine: No, not black Iron Man suits. Why do you ask? Ancient contraptions deployed from the space station to assault Iacon and encourage Dark Energon disposal, Optimus Prime's group encounter two of these spider-like giants. They attack with either a ground slam, a barrage of energy blasts, or a full-room sweep similar to the Energon Sentinel from level two. Break down the War Machine's leg armour, then destroy its core. Use cover and shoot smart, and the War Machine will easily fall.
Spiderbot: Encountered in Kaon Prison's sewers, or spawned from the Dark Energon crystals of the Corrupted Worm or Trypticon, these annoying little monsters sap your health while you deal with other, bigger threats. Shockwave or Whirlwind them to death.
Wallcrawler: War Machine lookalikes that allows access to upper and lower levels of the Kaon Prison. Shoot the rocket turrets on it, or hijack your own Wallcrawler to shoot other Wallcrawlers down. The Wallcrawler usually isn't the threat; the Decepticons inside are.
Station Defender: Silverbolt's team encounter this giant, Unicron-ish maw before accessing the Trypticon Space Station. It's relatively easy to avoid the numerous attacks it uses; just keep shooting at the core.
Trypticon Sentries: Not Full-Tile and Wipe-Out, sadly, but little Metroid-ish little bugs that scuttle around Trypticon's body doing repairs. They don't attack you, but blowing stuff up should damage Trypticon, right?

NOTES
There are multiple references to past fiction, especially G1. Practically every character's appearance and personality is based to some extent from their G1 characters. Ironhide is a loyal friend to Optimus, Silverbolt's acrophobic, Warpath is triggerhappy, Starscream is an egomaniac, Breakdown is paranoid, Skywarp is an dumb grunt, and so on and so forth. Some things, like Air Raid being a bit of a jerk or Brawl being a strategist, is based on their teammates' personalities (Slingshot and Onslaught, respectively). All their paintjobs, barring Air Raid, are heavily based on their G1 incarnations.

Energon is, of course, based on the life-giving energy from G1. Energon cubes look a bit like the AllSpark Cube from the life-action movie, though.

The pre-level recap is done by Steve Blum, who tries his best to impersonate the G1 cartoon's Victor Caroli's creepy narrator voice. Optimus Primte, meanwhile, is again voiced by Peter Cullen.

Various dialogue are based from the original Transformers: the Movie. 'One shall stand, one shall fall' is spoken in the beginning trailer, and again in the Kaon Prison level. Megatron, of course, says 'I still function' at one point, but it's more of a grumble to himself rather than an over-dramatic declaration. As an Autobot is executed in the background during the Kaon Prison level, he rephrases Kranix's line of 'Spare me this mockery of justice'! Ironhide uses the universal greeting on the space slugs, and like Hot Rod before him, Warpath doesn't recognize it. The Matrix being given to a Prime only after he proves his leadership abilities is also based on G1.

The organic-looking caves and waterfalls and rivers near Cybertron's Core seems to be inspired by similar settings in Beast Machines.

The Core of Cybertron is blatantly based on Primus. Numerous cannon fodder characters have also sworn by Primus numerous times throughout the campaign.

The 'Great Shutdown' mentioned by Cybertron's Core to replenish its energon sources is based on a similar event in Dreamwave comics, only here the corruption is a much more plausible reason.

Breakdown says 'All Hail Megatron' when he corrupts Omega Supreme, a possible reference to the comic book series of the same name. Later on, a random Autobot Brute will say 'All Hail Prime' during the Kaon breakout.

Optimus Prime being named 'Optimus' before the War instead of Orion Pax or Optronix, and already being in a quasi-military state, is most likely inspired by the ROTF prequel comics, as is the whole 'Last Prime' and 'Prime heritage' thing.

Zeta Prime's design is based on IDW's spin on Sentinel Prime (what with the spear and whatnot). He was almost coloured identically like Sentinel Prime, but later on got some blue (from Animated Sentinel Prime?) added in. The name Zeta Prime is first mentioned in the comic 'Spotlight: Blurr'.

Starscream and Jetfire being scientists and friends prior to the war is based on their background from the G1 cartoon episode 'Fire in the Sky', while Jetfire defecting from Decepticon to Autobot (sort of) is from both the G1 cartoon and Marvel comics, although this Jetfire doesn't spend long in the company of Megatron.

Omega Supreme being controlled forcibly by the Decepticons is based off the G1 episode 'the Secret of Omega Supreme'. Meanwhile, Omega's close friendship with Ratchet is based on their Animated counterparts.

Optimus Prime being reluctant to be a Prime, as well as his first order as a leader being to evacuate Cybertron, is based from plot points from the first War Within miniseries. Optimus Prime and Megatron knowing each other prior to the war seems to have stemmed from the Marvel UK text story 'State Games'.

The Energon Bridge is very loosely based in appearance on the Space Bridges from the G1 cartoon.

Optimus Prime's battleaxe is based on the energon axe used in the first G1 episode, but now it's a separate weapon wielded like the Animated version. On the same token, Megatron's Dark Energon Morningstar is based loosely on his flail/mace thing from the same episode.

Unlike most modern G1 fiction, Frenzy is coloured red and Rumble is blue, like in the cartoon, instead of the other way around, which is nominally the 'correct' one.

Megatron being a tank first happened in G2, and after Dreamwave's War Within almost every appearance of G1 Megatron with a Cybertronian mode defaults him to a tank. Ironhide and Ratchet are based somewhat from their War Within designs, with the windshield-in-front-of-face thing going on. Both Warpath and Silverbolt takes design cues from their Universe/Classics toys, integrating them with G1 designs. The Seekers' alternate modes are naturally based on the Tetra-jets from the G1 cartoon, although much sleeker and more harpoon-shaped, but now with forward-swept wings like Animated Starscream. Laserbeak's head design is based on his G1 cartoon's pre-Earth design, but he has his normal bird wings instead of being rounded.

Soundwave is apparently a triple-changer, able to shift between his nominal truck mode and that tape-deck mode seen when he holds Zeta Prime prisoner.

Trypticon's 'Conversion Cog' is very similar in function to 'Transformation Cogs' from the G1 cartoon, which is the plot device which allows Citybots to transform.

Megatron's Fusion Cannon and Optimus Prime's Ion Blaster are, of course, their weapons from G1. The Scatter Blaster is G1 Breakdown's weapon of choice, while the Null Ray is G1 Starscream's. The Nucleon Shock Cannon borrows its name from the life-giving fuel from the Marvel comics. Jets having machineguns and heat-seeking missiles are based on Skywarp and a host of numerous other Seeker jets. And so many weapons have the name 'ion', 'plasma' and 'photon' attached to it that I didn't bother looking them up.

The Ark is of course based on the Autobots' spaceship from G1, specifically the cartoon counterpart. The larger warships used by the Decepticons seem to be based on the Nemesis.

Iacon is based on the Autobots' capital from G1. Iaconian structures the Stellar Galleries and the Decagon are all first introduced in Dreamwave's 'War Within' comic and their Ultimate Guide. Decepticon capital Kaon, and its ramshackle appearance, also rose to prominence due to Dreamwave's work. The Speedways seem to be inspired by a similar contraption used by Swoop on Cybertron in the G1 two-parter episode 'Desertion of the Dinobots'.

The Omega Key takes its name from a powerful artifact from the Cybertron line, although its function is different here.

Stan Bush's new Transformers theme, seen in BotCon 2007, is used in the creditsm which contains a montage of jokes and stuff. At one point during the credit, they tease us with designs for Jazz, Scattershot and Onslaught. The Autobots also pile in onto Bumblebee in that tired out 'how many clowns can fit in a Volkswagen' joke.

GOOFS
During gameplay dialogue, sometimes the characters' lips (or faceplate) don't move, but sometimes they do.

At numerous points during the first chapter's final cutscene, the voice-over and the lip movements of Megatron and Starscream don't match. In particular, Starscream is already screaming franctically about Dark Energon before Megatron steps into the chamber thing. Also, Starscream's fists are a wee bit oversized, and he seems to have stolen Silverbolt's lip balm as well.

Not so much an error as bad scripting, Skywarp and Thundercracker say almost the same thing immediately after each other when the Energon Bridge is activated.

It seems a little odd that the Autobots never make a move against the Energon Bridge, even with Jetfire's warning to Zeta Prime.

During the level-ending movie of level three, Zeta Prime's gigantic hologram is coloured golden and blue like Zeta himself, while during gameplay itself the giant hologram is light blue.

During the ending cutscene of the sixth chapter, the dialogue and the animation isn't exactly in sync, although it's not as terrible as the first chapter.

The relative scale of Trypticon is a bit... inconsistent. As he first transforms, a teeth is nearly as large as an Aerialbot, yet during the final battle Optimus is as big as half his face.

Shooting your allies cannot damage them. But that's a goof common to every game.

If your computer-controlled ally is caught by a killing blast, say, a charging train or by a whirling fan, they will reappear just fine beside you.

********************************

Single-Player Campaign and Fiction Review
Alright, after that little overzealous synopsis of the game's plot and characters, time for the review. First off, for someone with high expectations, War for Cybertron does meet most of it. There are parts of the game that left me deflated, though. Let's go through the bad points first, then the good points.

One of the bad things is that the dialogue scripting is bad. It's not terrible, but it's nowehere near good. Especially in chapter two, where Starscream repeats that over-dramatic, annoying 'Fool' and 'STARscream' in every second line of dialogue. And Soundwave's voice is so heavily synthesized that it's near-impossible to figure what he's speaking without looking at the subtitles. Also, the dialogue, especially in the Decepticon campaign, is rather basic and unengaging. Specific key words like 'OMEGA KEY!' is also repeated so frequently by Megatron that it becomes irritating. The plot is engaging, but there are many parts where it could've used some trimming and editing. And what exactly the Dark Energon is, why Megatron could control it when no one else can... these are stuff that should've been explained during the course of the game. Also, while the Autobots get to fight Soundwave and Starscream, surely it wouldn't be too hard to put, say, Ironhide or someone else as a boss instead of relying on rubbish like that spinning Sentinel thing? And stuff like a Corrupted Worm being a boss? It surely takes up a lot of data space which could've been used to have a Decepticon act as a boss. Also, Omega Supreme and massive enemy rooms aside, the earlier boss fights are pretty similar. Avoid attacks, and, as Breakdown so crudely puts it, "Shoot the big glowy thing! SHOOT IT!" It's rather uninspiring.

Also, the enemies range from either mind-numbingly simply car troopers or frustatingly hard to defeat Brutes, Titans and Tanks. Some variety would be nice, although the enemies do feel more fun than the ones in the first Movie game. The AI is rather stupid, though, especially for your two allies. And another thing that I missed from the first two Movie games is the lack of free-roam (although it can't be helped) and the weakness of melee attacks. The first Movie game allows characters to have three melee attacks, as well as being able to interact with the environment and throw stuff. The ROTF one allows you to drive in vehicle mode and transform mid-drive, slamming onto the enemy with a melee attack. Both are cool features that could've been easily integrated into the gameplay. I mean, the melee attack is only one move of swinging the weapon, and it's rather uninspired.

Another thing is that there are far too much health power-ups and ammunition pickups in some areas, while some are decidedly barren. It's not really balanced, right? Plus, the earlier non-Omega, non-Trypticon levels are cakewalk unless you play it in hard difficulty. Also, much of the characters are undeveloped in character. It would've been relatively simple to sneak in more lines for guys like Warpath or Barricade or Rumble, defining them, or placing them in cutscenes instead of using lousy generics. Another problem is that some guys get so much playability time, while others are only there for one level. You get the Megatron-Soundwave-Breakdown team for three entire levels, while Brawl and Barricade are stuck in the short and easy first level?

Another problem is accessing the Multiplayer modes, although I suspect it's my rubbish WiFi than the designer's fault. Shame, really... I can't seem to create an account to play multiplayer.

However, don't be discouraged by the negative parts of the game. The goodies more than make up for it. Unlike the first two Movie games, where the plot is incoherent unless you hae watched the movie beforehand, the plot in War for Cybertron is pretty easy to comprehend, with the story flowing smoothly from level to level. The Dark Energon is a nice enough plot device, fresh and doesn't reek of reusing the same old plot device. The 'Easter Eggs' are also thankfully pretty reined in. While I'm someone who appreciates the odd little fandom shout-out or two, those inserted into the game blend in seamlessly (other than the Universal Greeting bit, which makes no sense if you don't get what it is). While I would've liked more usage of non-playable characters already in the game's memory like Shockwave or Jazz as bosses or NPCs (or even cameos) it's done pretty well. The levels with attacking and defending Iacon are very well done, as is the pacing during the tense chase against Omega Supreme.

And the visuals are brilliant. Simply breathtaking. Whether you're cartwheeling through Energon waterfalls in a vast underground cavern, or riding space slugs letting it rip on a dark corrupted tunnel, or jumping through space debris floating in space, or rooting out Autobots hiding behind the fountains in the courtyard of the Stellar Galleries, or holding a mass breakout in the Kaon Prison, or trying to outrace Omega Supreme through a bridge, or frantically flying towards Trypticon's conversion cog before he blows up Iacon... all the backgrounds of Cybertron are done in gorgeous detail, with shadows and damaged parts in the metallic buildings that make them realistic. The way light reflects off metal is so smooth and well done that it's hard not to appreciate it. The way the metal reflects on stuff, the gritty surfaces, the characters moving and twisting through Cybertron's terrain... the game isn't repetitive with visuals. There is a set theme, of course -- the Iacon levels for both Autobot and Decepticon look similar, so does the travelling-to-the-Core levels, but there are significant changes that makes it feel that you aren't just replaying the Decepticon campaign. I also applaud the background battles (love those giant warships shooting at each other!) and the cutscenes. Oh, the intro/outro cutscenes are gorgeous. They aren't like the half-assed glorified computer screen introdumps like the ROTF game, and are supremely better than the rubbish one in the Movieverse game.

The transformations are smooth, and like the first Movie game, you can transform at the push of a button. None of the 'push and hold' mechanics of the ROTF game. Vehicles can also stay stationary, unlike ROTF. Also, unlike the jets in both movieverse games, War for Cybertron's take on the jet transformation is simply brilliant, by letting them have a 'hover' mode and a flying mode. Adds to the realism and functionality of the game, no? Also, the large range of weaponry -- guns, grenades, mountable turrets, vehicle weapons, space slugs -- are great, although it does leave out the unique-ness of each character that the ROTF game presents. This means that you could pick any character and complete the mission, no problem. It could be good and bad, depending on your point of view. Personally, I would like for each character to have unique weapons, just like ROTF (Long Haul has flamethrowers, Grindor has an EMP shockwave, Ratchet has sticky grenades and so on) but I enjoy the switching-out-weapons mechanic. It's so smooth and done well that it's hard to fault them.

Having unique abilities does compensate for the lack of unique weaponry, although most likely you wouldn't use these abilities most of the time. Shame that there aren't more abilities, though, since every second character has 'Dash'. Imagine how cool it would for Ironhide to be able to call upon his G1 battlestation, or do that metal-skin thing like his Animated counterpart! But no, we get 'Dash' and 'Whirlwind', two generic abilities. Also, in my personal opinion it would be better for 'healing' characters (Ratchet, Soundwave, Thundercracker and Jetfire) to have it as an ability instead of lugging a basically useless weapon, no?

While some may argue about this, the fights are entertaining as long as you like to see robots getting blown up. Battles range from simple enemies you have to clobber, big ,mini-bosses (that are relatively simple to defeat), and 'Last Stand' situations. Personally, I love these make a stand type of missions, with waves and waves of powerful enemies rushing at you. These are excellent and challenging, especially if you play in the Hard mode.

And story-wise? Well, I do think that we could easily do with more characterization, and that the story might flow more smoothly if the 'Defend Iacon' level is placed between the Omega Supreme levels as an intermission that'll help the pacing, but it works. Unlike the movieverse games, where the two faction's campaigns have the same storyline with a different ending, thereby meaning that you go through the same thing twice, only with different characters, placing the two campaigns side-by-side to form a story is a brilliant move. The story is engaging enough as a sci-fi story. In fact, compared to most early-war stories, War for Cybertron is probably the best. Megatron Origin is trash, the first War Within arc suffers from not going anywhere specific after three issues, the second War Within arc drops the interesting civil war story for the damned Fallen, Exodus is a glorified, overlong fanfiction while the cartoon episodes are inconsistent. In fact, other than State Games, War for Cybertron is the best early-war story. And best of all, it's got a beginning, a plot and a veritable conclusion. And stuff like cloak-and-dagger missions, propaganda videos as well as torture do add an air of darker writing to it, although not so much as to be emo.

Characters who appear throughout the levels get lots of character. Megatron is your generic power-hungry egomaniacal villain, but there are several moments where he becomes more ruthless than the cartoon goofball. Places where he leaves his men to die because of survival of the fittest, or where he shoots a trooper for talking back, makes me see a proper warlord like IDW's Megatron. The badass one in the -ion series, that is, not the one with a horribly complex plan that goes nowhere in AHM. However, other than those moments of badassery, Megatron is your basic megalomaniac. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime is brilliantly executed. I like how they went with basing Optimus from the Movieverse guy, with the whole 'Last Prime' vibe going on. There is that air of mystery around Optimus, yet he is charismatic enough to rile up the other Autobots. (How could you argue with Peter Cullen's iconic voice?) Also, I do think Optimus is executed better in here than in War Within, with him already being a military commander even beforehand, and obtaining the Matrix -- from Primus himself, no less -- after proving his leadership by risking his life to rescue Zeta Prime, and then travelling to the Core to erase the corruption. Surely that makes more sense than a data clerk that gets lucky and obtains the Matrix, or a rebuilt dockworker? Like in 'State Games', here Optimus already has the qualifications to be a leader, and simply grows on it instead of just being handed the reins by Alpha Trion or Gravitas or whatever.

Omega Supreme and Trypticon are nicely treated as the end-all-and-be-all of both factions, and the tense boss fights against them are simply wonderfully paced and tense. Omega is still as emotionless as all his previous counterparts (although his vortex pull thing is very cool) but Trypticon uses his more haughty, witty and intelligently sadistic War Within persona instead of the rubbish 'Trypticon smash Metroplex' idiot of the cartoon. Both are brilliantly redesigned. I think this is the first time Trypticon ever looked realistic as a gigantic city-sized dinosaur, while I applaud the designers' little shuffling around of parts in Omega Supreme's rocket mode.

And for someone who should just be a simple trooper and seemingly picked at random, Breakdown surprisingly proves to be a lot of fun with his whining and freak-outs, a nice foil to the ever-angry Megatron and the bland Soundwave. I really like Breakdown and his voice actor, and he's really worth the monitor-time given to him. Ditto for Zeta Prime. Sure, everyone knows he's going to die soone or later, but his smug self-assured stance and his ultimately accepting his fate are well done, and the voice actor breathes life to a character that should've felt banal and trite.

Most of the lesser characters receive one or two defining set of dialogue (or scenes, for luckier guys) for their characterization. Ironhide gets a cool moment in the 'Iacon Falls' campaign, establishing the 'I like Prime' stuff, whilst when you finally get to play him he gets to be a nice analog of Kup to Warpath's Hot Rod. Likewise, I can't remember when Warpath (or Breakdown or Brawl for that matter) ever got any decent characterization to himself. Being a trigger-happy, half-deaf guy suits him fine. Brawl is seemingly based on a mixture of his Movie 'unstoppable trooper' vibe with the loud all-guns-blazing persona of G1, but adding in a hint of strategic prowress. As a guy picked randomly and based on the G1 guy, Barricade is a guy that plays the 'everyman', someonw who sometimes doubts Megatron but keeps following orders. Sideswipe is just a gung-ho, sarcastic warrior, a role that befits him. Skywarp and Thundercracker, although their voices are all but indistinguishable from each other, play the 'luckless stooges' role nicely, feeding off the arrogant Starscream well. Skywarp's stupidity and Thundercracker's arrogance are portrayed nicely in several scenes. The Aerialbots are even better defined. Jetfire appears througout the campaign, each bit adding to his reluctant pacifist persona, and it's a nice blend of his multiple personalities from the various G1 fiction. Air Raid is your generic beat-up-happy guy, while Silverbolt is a selfless, fearless leader.

Most of the second-tier characters are the ones who could be improved on, however. Soundwave appears throughout the entire Decepticon campaign and some levels of the Autobot campaign, but he still has the personality of a board. His overtly-flanged, synthesized voice is also hard to decipher -- why do we want this, again? Bumblebee tries too hard to mix the unsure-with-himself character from G1, the serious and badass warrior from the Movie, as well as the sarcastic Animated character. The end result is a banal guy who gets eclipsed by Sideswipe or Ironhide or Ratchet or Optimus Prime, and is just treated as 'another guy'. For someone like Barricade, who only appeared for the first chapter (which had to introduce lots of things) this might be acceptable, but Bumblebee has more than half of the Autobot campaign! Starscream, too, tries too hard to combine his myriad appearances. That, and the very repetitive voice actor (how many times did he say 'FOOLS! No one can stand beneath the power of STAH-Screem!' in the first half of level two alone?) makes him feel rather forced and frankly rather poorly executed. Granted, his little filling-the-void-of-leadership thing, which apparently must happen in every Transformers fiction ever, has a legitimate reason behind it, so it doesn't grate.

Still, all in all for a video game the plot, playability, characterization and visual effects are brilliantly done. There are some places where improvements should've been made (rather easily too) but otherwise it's a great job.

Multiplayer Modes Review

But wait! That's not all! You can co-op the campaign with people in the net. It would really be much more fun playing with two real people instead of with dumb AI for friends, surely?

But the main attraction would be the Escalation mode and the Multiplayer mode. Sadly, it's rather frustrating to connect to the server for me, so I can't say that I've played more than a couple of minutes in either modes. More of the fault of my internet than the game itself, though.

Escalation is an endurance level where characters from the same faction are pitted against hordes of unending enemies. It's also the only place where you can play Arcee, Slipstream and the downloadable guys as themselves. It's pretty fun, and the limited weaponry and ammunition does make it very challenging. Sadly, the lag that comes with connecting with a laptop means that I can't get past the fifth wave. I did fool around for a bit with Slipstream and Arcee, though, and it's kind of fun.

Meanwhile, Multiplayer lets you create several characters from different classes (Scout, Leader, Scientist and Soldier) and level them up as you battle other people's characters. You get to learn unique skills not available in the single-player campaign, upgrading passive skills, and create your character based on the body designs of the characters you've unlocked. However, you can't exactly create your dream fanmade character per se... the most you could do is recolour the available guys, although it's better than nothing.

From what little I've played it's lots of fun, with game modes like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, some kind of flag-stealing mode, defending power nodes, bombing the enemy base... with the various skill sets, experience points and multiple arenas (especially if you download the DLC pack) Multiplayer is heaps of fun, although I do suppose you get bored rather easily once you get your characters maxed out...

I just wish my network connection could actually support one measly game without disconnecting...

Downloadable Contents
You can download lots of multiplayer map, as well as unlock Shockwave, Demolishor, Jazz, Scattershot, Onslaught, Zeta Prime and Dead End in Escalation mode, as well a use their body frames for your characters in Multiplayer. It's rather expensive, and it kinds of cheats since the data for all these characters are apparently already stored in the game engine. Still, it's a nice gesture, although probably only Jazz and Shockwave jumps out at you.

Overall
Overall? Nine and a Half out of ten. Definitely. There are some niggling problems, but comparing it to the Wii or DS versions of the ROTF and WFC games, War for Cybertron does deserve it's reputation.
 
 
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