Matthew Scott Hunter
FALL OF CYBERTRON (T)
Two years ago, Transformers: War for Cybertron
proved that, without any affiliation with the
awful Michael Bay film franchise, a video game
featuring everyone’s favorite “robots in disguise”
could be awesome. Like a sleek sports car that
has transformed into a badass robot, Fall of
Cybertron isn’t necessarily better or worse
than its predecessor, but it is decidedly different.
Co-op levels have transformed into single-player-only
levels—each tailored specifically to the strengths
of the single Autobot or Decepticon you’re assigned.
Branching paths have transformed into rigidly
linear progression, but progression that leads
inexorably to spectacularly memorable set pieces.
In many ways, the sequel offers less freedom
than the original, but that’s because it doesn’t
want players to stray too far from the story
the game is trying to tell. It’s a story of
desperation. The war is all but over. The question
is no longer whether or not the Autobots can
win, but whether or not there will be any Autobots
left after they lose.
Each level has you assume the role of a new
Transformer—each with unique abilities that
make every level distinctive. Cliffjumper’s
cloaking ability makes his level ripe for stealth.
Jazz’s grapple-hook ability makes his level
an acrobatic exercise in platforming. And Grimlock’s
ability to transform into a fire-breathing dinosaur
makes his level a playground for destruction.
But if you’re somehow unsatisfied with the varied
talents of the Transformers you’re given, you
can always build your own in competitive multiplayer
mode, where every victory rewards you with new
ways to customize your virtual toy. Whether
you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Cybertronian
history or you can’t tell a Transformer from
a Gobot, Fall of Cybertron has plenty to offer
anyone who likes a good third-person shooter.
OF THE SAMURAI 4 (M)
How the Way of the Samurai series continues
to exist is one of the great mysteries of the
universe. In every single installment, the fight
mechanics feel stiff and the graphics seem to
be at least one console generation behind. This
particular episode takes place in mid-19th century
Japan during an influx of European settlers.
You can choose to welcome these strangers from
overseas, or you can side with the more xenophobic
factions. Either way, you’ll clash swords with
plenty of enemies, who descend on you in groups
but attack you one at a time, so you can get
the maximum amount of tediousness out of each
24 Carat Games
Retro/Grade is a standard rhythm game cleverly
masquerading as a scrolling shooter like Gradius
or R-Type. The gimmick is that you’re moving
backwards in time, from the final boss battle
to the beginning of the game, and you’re attempting
to repeat (in reverse) all the past laser shots
that brought you to victory. So you need to
maneuver your spaceship to meet each laser blast
at its point of origin the same way you hit
each scrolling note in Guitar Hero. The difference
is that Guitar Hero has a large assortment of
songs, whereas Retro/Grade’s limited soundtrack
becomes repetitive pretty quick.