Following on from GUIJ’s review of Transformers: WFC last week, and with the first double XP weekend over, I thought I’d post some comments on my experiences with the multiplayer side of the game. I picked up the full game after the multiplayer demo got its hooks in, but I wasn’t really impressed at first. The game was developed using the Unreal engine, and it shows – with the muted colour scheme and rubble-strewn battlefields you’d be forgiven for thinking you were playing a Gears or UT3 mod. Even the vehicle forms, well-handled though they are, are reminiscent of UT’s hoverboards.
The class system is where the game starts to come into its own, however, and the interplay between classes, especially once you start unlocking new abilities, makes the combat feel fresh and exciting. Soldiers are a straight-up attack class, with lots of health and some impressively powerful weapons. The other classes, however, are a blend of those we’ve come to expect from other multiplayer games. The Scientist comes with a repair ray that, just like Team Fortress 2’s medic, sprays health, complete with little red cross icons. However, the class is also able to fly in plane form, set up sentry guns (to repair or damage), siphon enemies’ health and disguise themselves as the enemy. There’s a great deal of strategic potential for each class and teams can combine abilities to great effect, like putting down the Leader’s Energon wall behind the Scientist’s Rocket Sentry while the team captures a command point.
This leads on to one of the big problems with the multi as it stands – namely, no-one’s talking. I’ve barely heard anyone in a week’s solid play, even though lots of players have a headset icon beside their name. On the plus side, I’ve experienced no griefing at all, but it does make the online experience quite sterile.This may be a 360 issue, as discussed by Jake Pearce in his article on the downside of party chat – it’d be interesting to hear if PS3 players are experiencing a similar situation. It also makes the team strategies harder to implement. Given that the Leader class involves boosting the team’s damage and healing abilities, it must be hard to use effectively. There’s also a lack of balance in the game modes – deathmatch (team and solo) is popular, as is Conquest mode, where players capture command points, but Countdown to Extinction and Code of Power are barren by comparison.
Even though players can only control generic Autobots and Decepticons in multi (the iconic ones are saved for the campaign) there’s a reasonable amount of character customization, with players able to choose both their appearance when playing as either faction. High Moon have done a great job of maintaining the tone of the license – the characters, graphics and music all reflect a more mature take on the 80’s cartoons, right down to the noise a robot makes when it transforms.
Tranformers: WFC’s multiplayer reminded me, oddly, of BioShock 2’s. It’s not going to tear the hardcore away from Team Fortress 2 or Modern Warfare 2 any time soon, but it offers an interesting and well made alternative that still keeps the flavour of the single player mode. The community could be more vocal, but players generally work together as the game intends.