Let's get all the Transformers puns out of the way right off of the bat, shall we? Transformers: War for Cybertron is more than meets the eye. It's clear that developer High Moon Studios really has the Touch: It's an Optimal use of the Transformers license, and a Prime example of what the franchise can look like when handled with care.
Hurricane of puns aside, I sat down with Transformers: War for Cybertron for four or so hours Wednesday night, and came away very impressed.
The game takes place long before the Transformers' arrival on Earth, during Megatron's initial uprising and the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons for control of their home world Cybertron. Right away, the setting inherently does away with what many people didn't like about the recent movies: There aren't any humans to get in the way of awesome robot action. This game is all giant robots, all the time.
We were initially thrown right into the game's multiplayer, which provided a good introduction to the fundamentals of how War for Cybertron works. In the multiplayer, you're playing as a generic Autobot or Decepticon soldier, which thankfully curtails any "No, I want to be Megatron!" arguing right off the bat. Instead, you can customize your vehicle chassis, color scheme, and weapons loadout as one of the game's four classes: Leader, Soldier, Scout, and Scientist.
Leaders transform into trucks and are strong all-around fighters, with the ability to erect shields and to unleash a battle cry that boosts the combat capability of nearby allies. Soldiers are tanks - literally - and have the highest health of them all, with some devastating damage-dealing potential. Scouts become little zippy cars, can turn invisible (gaining extra melee damage when stealthed), sprint, and throw disabling EMP grenades. Scientists are the "support" class, able to turn into jet fighters, set down defense turrets, and heal allies with a repair beam.
It speaks to High Moon's talent that each of the classes feels distinct and yet powerful; every time I tried a new class I found myself deciding that this was my new favorite class because it was so awesome, only to change my mind once I went to the next one (my best performance was as the Soldier, but being able to fly around as the Scientist is still awesome). It was also very impressive how natural and intuitive the transformation mechanic was - a click of the left thumbstick, and your 'bot transforms in and out of vehicle mode instantly, and both vehicle and robot forms are fun to use and useful in combat.
We saw all of the standard multiplayer game types you'd expect: team deathmatch, territory control, CTF and a bomb-drop mode, and while none of these were particularly new or head-turning, they were all a great deal of fun to toy around with.