Under Fire: Do Not Extend Transformers: Cybertron Series to Earth
I’ve made it no secret how much I’ve really enjoyed High Moon’s Transformers games–War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. Both games have appealed to 1980s cartoon nostalgia and fun, third-person shooter gameplay. Both games have also been relatively successful; not in terms of Activision’s usual success, say Call of Duty or Warcraft, but on the grand scale, both games sold well. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if Activision was either asking High Moon to make another game or if High Moon was planning on another Transformers game. Why create something new, right? Isn’t that the way of the gaming industry these days–build a successful game and then build a series from it, no matter what?
Since Fall of Cybertron started right where War for Cybertron ended, reason would have it that the next Transformers game would start where Fall of Cybertron ended, with the Transformers escaping through the collapsed portal in space to find another world to live in while Cybertron’s core repairs itself. (That’s not a spoiler, do not send hate email.) We all know which planet that is, as we have seen at least three TV cartoon series and three Michael Bay movies depicting the next step in the Transformers’ lives. While there is plenty of room to extend the Cybertron games’ universe down to Earth, I am begging, no, imploring High Moon and Activision to please leave well enough alone and be happy with how they have ended these games. (I realize that I am asking this of the publisher who likes to run franchises into the ground, but I also believe miracles can happen.)
Please, for the love God, do not create a Transformers game with an Earth setting.
Both Cybertron games were great for two main reasons:
- They were based off the 1980s Transformers; and
- There were NO humans.
If you set the series on Earth, what’s going to happen? There will be humans! And then what will happen? The story will go the way of the Transformers: Prime cartoon: a story based on the 1980s Transformers but with an unhealthy and unwanted focus on the humans, their stories, and how they cope with the Transformers invading their world.
Newsflash: NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE HUMANS. You know what happens when you focus on the humans? You get Michael Bay movies.
My son has recently found the 1980s Transformers cartoon on Netflix, and while I have found myself laughing in embarrassment with how corny the dialogue is, I’ve reveled in the fact that the show is good because the humans are such a backdrop. Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky and Chip are all present in each episode, but what they’re going through is never focused upon or even mentioned. I think the most I’ve ever heard Chip mention his feelings was when he was ripping up the 5.25 floppy disk to prevent Megatron from ever finding a particular database in its entirety–feel free to laugh. The focus was on the action, something that has been missing from a large portion of the movies and from Transformers: Prime.
Even when the writers of the 1980s cartoon felt the need to induce some drama or sappy emotion, it was plugged in VIA THE ROBOTS. Again, no one cares what the humans are going through. Those who do watch cartoons based on humans. This is one reason why I’m convinced Transformer cartoon reboots haven’t been very successful; people come for the Transformers and then leave when they learn that the stars are the humans. I’ve given each cartoon a chance, and I can barely take it. Give me the corny dialogue of the 1980s any day of the week; at least there I’ll see decent robot battles for 20 of the 22 minutes.
Now it’s possible that if High Moon and Activision bring the Cybertron series to Earth, they will keep the 1980s vibe and introduce 1-2 token humans and then move on. It’s very, very possible. However, Michael Bay’s genius and the recent Transformers cartoons have not left much hope. It seems that many in production have forgotten what made the Transformers so much fun and so great. High Moon’s games were so much fun because they showed that someone in that studio clearly remembered what we all loved about the Transformers. But those took place on Cybertron, away from humans. If they bring the fight to Earth, the temptation to make the Transformers second fiddle to Earthlings and their uncanny ability to muck everything up may prove to be too great.
Nip that temptation in the bud; do not bring the Cybertron games to Earth.
Under Fire is a weekly Gaming Angels column that celebrates the shooter genre of gaming, written by our beloved Keri Honea a/k/a crunchychocobo.