Monday, September 3, 2012

Told you so - War for Cybertron IS Metal Arms

at 3:10 PM
Many critics found themselves complaining that the Cybertron Transformers games were "basically Gears of War, but with a licensed property", and even argued that the Transformers license was all that made the game special. Later I'll have a full review of Fall of Cybertron to fully debate these points, but let's get in a quick slap to the face of critics now.

War for Cybertron immediately and throughout reminded me of an evolved version of a sixth-gen game I loved: Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. This was a generally comic robot war third-person shooter, focusing on run-and-gun and light platforming rather than sluggish cover-turtling. The game starred some creative and unique weaponry (like a dismembering buzzsaw gun long before Half-Life 2 or Dead Space would feature the same), multiple playable characters, stealth missions, and a puzzle here and there. For having gone so under the radar, it certainly played like your biggest budget games.

Of course, my initial thought was, "maybe my brain is linking these two games on the superficial level: third-person shooters about robots". Getting deeper into the levels and seeing Cybertron's preference for mobile, arena-style battles instead of trench warfare, as well as its integration of vehicles directly into the flow of a level (vs. Gears of War or Halo, where these have their own stages), I knew that the developers must have at the very least played Glitch, if not been consciously influenced by it.

Metal Arms never got a sequel, and sadly, Swingin' Ape Studios never saw their name on another game. They were acquired from Vivendi by Activision-Blizzard (perhaps just Blizzard at the time), and put to work on that tragic bit of vaporware, StarCraft: Ghost. Seems like somewhere at Activision the swingin' apes are still afoot, because check this: Moby Games confirms:
Matt Krystek, the lead level designer for War for Cybertron, also designed the levels in Metal Arms.

So you can see why I so rarely doubt my own opinion.

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