Week in Video Games: Transformers shine in newest console effort

Plus Far Cry 3 returns players to the familiar deserted island to excellent effect, and Aido launches Steam-like online gaming service.

The new Fall of Cybertron game comes with a wide range of customisable options for players to choose from.
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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Due to unfortunate events that have unfolded over the past few years, any mention of the word Transformers is now more likely to conjure up images of Shia LaBeouf engaging in eye-wincing CGI nonsense alongside an assortment of General Motors-approved robots and a lingerie model boasting the same on-screen presence as an Ikea wardrobe. Michael Bay has done much to destroy childhood memories in his quest for billions.

Thankfully, in video game land, he's left well alone, which is possibly why, as his cash-spewing creations get more turgid with every release, the games simply improve. And this is even more true with those that ignore the films altogether, as 2010's War for Cybertron - which was much more a hat tip to the old cartoons - proved.

Its follow up, Fall of Cybertron, takes up the story where High Moon Studio's critically acclaimed third-person actioner left off and sees the Autobots desperately trying to escape their dying homeworld while those dastardly Decepticons do everything they can to destroy them in the process.

Building on War's blueprint, Fall starts at a frenetic pace and rarely stops for a breather. Like its predecessor, the story modes see you move chapter-by-chapter through various Transformers characters from both sides, each boasting unique characteristics, personalities and transformation abilities that display a clear devotion to the original series. And although many make a return, there are several new additions likely to give fans a special buzz, particularly when Grimlock's monstrous T-Rex form makes a fire-breathing appearance, or the Combaticons unite to create their colossal Bruticus. The city-sized Metroplex also gets a decent slice of the action, too.

The action is slick, with transformations available at the push of a button and nice touches such as being able to switch firing arms to help when shooting from behind cover, although the lack of any actual cover mechanism was sorely missed.

But away from the vast battle arenas, the non-shooty story elements of the gameplay are of a rather basic push-this-button-then-go-there routine and the dialogue whiffs somewhat of fromage (but if you've seen the cartoons you'll appreciate it's a fair representation). Things do improve when you take up the Decepticons' devious reins (while undeniably brave, Optimus's earnestness can get a bit much after a while), but the campaign is distinctly linear and there's never really a hint that you might be able to affect the course of action.

A considerable development from the first game comes in multiplayer, which benefits hugely from the amount of customisable options. Anyone with a spark of creativity is likely to spend a good chunk of time messing around with colour combos (of which there are 50) and decals before they even consider one of the four different multiplayer modes and 10 maps at their disposal.

Unlike so much over the past decade, Fall of Cybertron is a worthy title to feature the Transformers name and improves on what was already a quality title. While it might not keep advanced gamers entertained for too long, misty-eyed fans of the original cartoon will appreciate the loving dedication that has gone into it. And everyone will enjoy causing havoc with a Grimlock's robotic fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Sneak Peek: Far Cry 3 returns to its roots

Out on November 29
PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Fans of big guns and idyllic beaches were no doubt saddened when Ubisoft moved Far Cry from the first game’s lush South Pacific archipelago setting to central Africa for the sequel. Thankfully, we’re back amid the palm trees for the third instalment, which sees users play a lost American tourist marooned on an island in the Indian Ocean populated mainly by mentally unstable and somewhat violent inhabitants. It looks remarkably slick, with the trailer hinting at some sublime graphics and a vast array of characters, vehicles and weapons, including a rather cool bow and arrow (for stealth, of course). Oh, and aside from gun-toting baddies, there’s a load of vicious animals lurking about, too. There probably won’t be time to get a tan.

Aido brings gaming downloads closer to home

Those out there who still use their trusty laptops or home computers for gaming purposes will probably have heard of Steam, the online platform that enables you to buy and download pretty much any game out there. Closer to home, the Dubai-based Viva Entertainment has launched something similar, adding game downloads to its online store, www.aido.com. There are more than 800 titles to choose from, including a few for Mac (let’s face it, we don’t really get a fair deal, do we?) and prices start at a mere Dh12. And as an introductory offer, you can get 20 per cent off your first download.