For a start, High Moon Studios is riding on a high after stunning fans the world over with the rather fantastic 2010 prequel, War for Cybertron. Jumping into just one game assures us that weíre in for a similarly entertaining ride - big, chunky robots that feel weighty but responsive to control, in arenas that offer many opportunities for combat strategy.
Customisation has been vastly improved too. Initially, you can select one of four mechs to venture into battle with - the Infiltrator, Scientist, Destroyer and Titan - each with their own unique speed, power and defence statistics. Delve deeper, and you can select the primary and secondary weapons for that Transformer, what upgrades to include, and how to build each and every body part from a long list of unlockable options.
The stages that you do battle in are much more intricate than those found in War for Cybertron too. Large, foreboding maps that really emphasise the character of the Transformers and the dying world around them. Although the colours of the maps we played in consisted of grim greys underscored by flashes of brighter palettes, the interesting environment design make up for this. Towering, cyberpunk-style structures loom over you, high in the sky, whilst buildings on the ground seem inspired by ancient temples and buildings from human history.
The level design for one particular stage includes multi-leveled, dilapidated building blocks with ledges that overlook a good chunk of the map. But, with a number of entrance points to that specific area, youíre always having to watch your back if you choose to hold steady there. Jump pads send grounded Transformers to upper floors, conveniently positioning them right behind you if youíre not careful.
Again, the level design offers opportunities for escape as much as it does for combat. Take a running start, flip into a race car and hop out of the windows of a building to land on a broken road that leads to another segment of the map. Or, if you simply want to reach a higher vantage point, you can change into a plane and head towards a ledge that would normally be inaccessible by foot (unless you engage in the aforementioned daring window escape).
Depending on your customisation, you can also activate a number of support tools that can aid you in the destruction of your opponents. One such tool is a cloak that allows you to sneak past foes or infilatrate an area to take command of a particular zone. Another places a shield right in front of your Autobot or Decepticon, deflecting enemy fire and giving you a few seconds to escape or consider a new combat strategy. You can even use one particular option to heal teammates when they are low on health.
You can still download the Xbox 360 and PS3 demo on their respective download services, if you fancy. The full game is released on August 24 - letís hope the rest of the multiplayer experience lives up to this good first impression.
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