DEVELOPER: High Moon Studios
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PC, PS3)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
When Michael Bay punished mech fans with the moronic sequel to his enjoyable “Transformers” movie, I was done with the series. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that “Transformers: War for Cybertron” is actually based on the G1 Transformers (1st Generation) and has nothing to do with the recent movies. Now brace yourself for this next statement because it will certainly be a shocker: this Transformers game is freakin’ fantastic!
Maybe it’s because the story takes place on Cybertron and tells the story of the beginning of the rift between the Autobots and Decepticons. With no humans to protect, the noble Autobots can be just as brutal as the wicked Decepticons, which makes for some pulse-pounding action. Players can choose to undertake separate campaigns for each side, and each mission lets them choose one of three classes to pilot.
Since this third-person shooter was created using the Unreal engine, it plays very much like “Gears of War,” but with giant robots. Unlike traditional mechs though, these walking metal beasts are very limber and move quickly. They can also transform in the blink of an eye into vehicle forms, which are actually useful for more than just transportation. For example, raining death from above as a soaring jet can confuse enemies, and ramming opponents as an automobile inflicts extra damage.
As if that doesn’t sound fun enough, this title also lets one or two players join in for three-player co-op through both campaigns. There’s also a fun co-op Escalation mode where players battle an endless onslaught of enemies, but the real treat is the online multiplayer game play. Players can customize four different classes of robots with different abilities like stealth and additional firepower. Then it’s time to tackle six different game modes, ranging from simple Team Deathmatch to the more complex Conquest. Gaining new levels opens up new abilities and weapons, and there are even kill streak bonuses similar to modern shooters.
With so much cool content available, I’ll be playing “Transformers: War for Cybertron” for a long, long time.
Make Magic Your Friend in ‘LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4’
DEVELOPER: Traveller’s Tales
PUBLISHER: Warner Bros.
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PC, Wii)
ESRB RATING: E10-plus
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
Now that the LEGO series has covered Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Batman, it seems like a no-brainer to see “LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.” After all, most children love both LEGO and the Harry Potter universe, so combining them together seems like an instant formula for success. However, just like real life, too many bugs can ruin any great experience.
Budding Magicians are teleported to a LEGO reproduction of Hogwarts that opens up more and more as the game progresses. This serves as the main “hub” that allows players to choose which levels to explore. Like other LEGO games, “LEGO HP 1-4” offers several humorous silent versions of well-known scenes between the students and their teachers. There is also tons of game-specific content not to be found in any Harry Potter book or movie.
Magic is a natural replacement for “the force,” so magically constructing items out of LEGO bricks remains a major part of the game. In addition, several magic spells from the Harry Potter universe can also be learned. My favorite is “Wingardium Leviosa,” which is used to move platforms, turn keys and toss objects. These new spells add a much-needed complexity to the game, as I always got tired of only having two to three abilities for each character in previous LEGO titles.
On the other hand, some of the new puzzles can be rather vague and difficult to figure out due to the plethora of new abilities. I also don’t like how my potions aren’t always reliable. Most of the bugs, though, come from the automatic switch from one screen to split screen when playing co-op. Sometimes it doesn’t switch at all, items can be out of reach and the characters are obscured from view.
Nevertheless, “LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4” is still a whimsical hodgepodge of supernatural magic and fun game play.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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