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Tycho / on Wed, Jun 23 2010 at 12:00 am

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Redolent With Spices

This was an authentic series of text messages sent to me by Gabriel.  I would take a picture of it, but I would have to use my own phone to do so, which would sunder the universe.  Rest assured that such communiques are not uncommon, and that taken in aggregate they present a wholly unified Aesthetics of Shit.

I kept returning to the Transformers: War For Cybertron demo, time and time again - and yes, spell checker, Cybertron is a motherfucking word.  Even though I’d hit the level cap, I kept telling myself I “wasn’t sure” if I liked it or not, but that wasn’t entirely true.  I did like it; I just didn’t know why.

Did I like it because I wanted to?  Did I like it because robots that are also other things constitute the steel pantheon of my youth?  I don’t entirely know if it’s possible to extricate the person I am from what I like, and it hasn’t seemed to bother people who have read the site for the last decade, so long as I am forthright about my inclinations.  Well, I have one.

It is my inclination to like things that say Transformers on the front.

For those who live by a similar ethos, Transformers: War for Cybertron is an act of worship.  For creatures made of an indeterminate alloy, these beings are surprisingly, convincingly alive.  They fidgit.  They’re covered with plates of mysterious purpose that twitch and fold.  Even when shifted into a vehicular form, they still manage somehow to communicate a livingness.  This can’t really be overstated, and I want to praise them like I should.

To look at a screen of Transformers is to get ass-deep in some visual density.  Articulated metallic shapes shooting at other shapes on a planet made out of the same material they are presents the user with a suite of unique challenges.  Navigating such an environment (or even, at times, interpreting it) is something that utilizes every skill we’ve developed as enthusiasts of electronic entertainment.  There are polish issues that rise up: and not polish on the chrome surfaces, which uniformly gleam.  In attempting to play through the campaign, all three of us - at different times - fell entirely through the world into space.  Now, the game takes place in space, so falling through its infinite reaches with no hope of rescue isn’t the thematic break that it might be in other titles.  Plus, the party is spawned near one another at the end of a cutscene, which are frequent.  But it speaks to aberrant behaviors that run through the play experience: getting stuck on shit is surprisingly common.  Non-combat physical interactions between entities feel rough.  I wouldn’t say it was “half-baked,” but still.  It doesn’t feel entirely baked.

Multiplayer is a mess, but it’s a good mess, like a ladle of gumbo over dirty rice.  The second Activision game in as many months that attempts to boil stock off some venerated bones, but the classes (as we discussed earlier) sequester the entirety of the offering into four independent experiences, all of which have their own progressions, closer to Bad Company than Modern Warfare.  Except in Bad Company you might wait at the spawn in a vain attempt to secure a vehicle, whereas in Transformers, well, you know.  That’s where the “transformers” bit comes in.

Kee kurr kee kurrch jown.

I’m sure I’ll convince one of my cohorts to continue the campaign, but when we can jump into quick forty-kill rounds, progress, customize, and paint robots who crack each other open with Energon blades it may be a tough sell.  I want to investigate their Escalation mode, a take on a Hordy/Nazi Zombiesian mode that (combined with the classes) has potential.  The offering is surprisingly wide; the multiplayer that I think most people (me) assumed was “tacked on” is probably where I’ll spend the bulk of my time.

(CW)TB out.

if the feeling drops out of your voice


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