Monday, 5 August 2013

Lost in the Sound Design: War For Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron

I admittedly have a somewhat love/hate relationship with the Transformer series. For instance, I cannot stand the original G1 series as not only has the animation aged horribly, but there is little to know emphasis on the story other then Decepticons are bad, we the Autobots must destroy them until all are one. While the sequel (prequel?) series Beast Wars (Beasties in Canada) put more emphasis on story telling in conjunction with the new visual style. Beast Wars is often regarded as the pinnacle of story telling within the entire franchise.

Despite my on again/off again relationship with the franchise (the Bayformers had caused my recent break up with the franchise) I had been looking forward to trying War For Cybertron when it first came out. Of course as things are wont to do, I never got a chance at trying the game until about a year later where I picked it up at my local EB Games.

So what makes the Cybertron series worthy of being spotlighted? There are other games that do just as good or even better. I understand that games like Call of Duty, and Battlefield strive for authenticity when it comes to the sound design and for that I applaud them. However I haven't played those shooters and I have no interest in them.

While I did enjoy the visuals of High Moon Studio's Cybertron series, what truly set it apart was the sound of the world. While I do admit I get nostalgic and miss the original transforming sound, (you know the one) the one the studio used works just as well. The sound effect for it does have it sound like machines shifting form. It gives off a sound of authenticity that these are actual beings undergoing a transformation. Unlike the other series where it just seemed to be a stock sound.

Another prime example are the sounds of the weapons when they fire. Given that this is a science fiction series there is no benchmark on what pulse rifles or anti matter cannons are supposed to sound like. This, like other sci-fi series, can make or break the immersion of a game. Luckily High Moon Studios knew this going into the series and like many other games, the team crafted a sound that made it seem real. It allowed the player to get immersed in the game. Coupled with the sound of getting hit by one of these weapons, which again, sounds authentic even though there is no real counterpart to it.

Finally, the voice work for the series. Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime has never sounded so good. Instead of the original G1, he turned Optimus into a reluctant hero. Weary from the fighting, he wishes for peace while his Decepticon counterpart Megatron, voiced by Fred Tatasciore, delivers a performance that showcases that despite the Deception Warlord's mad lust for Dark Energon and power, he still commands authority. It provides a fantastic contrast between the character's and factions.

Cullen and Tatasciore aren't the only ones who have given the characters life. Sam Riegel's tenure as Starscream seems to channel Chris Latta's version of the backstabbing Decepticon. Meanwhile, fan favourite Grimlock is voiced by his original VA Gregg Berger who treats the raging Dinobot not like a bozo, but a King. You can tell that the voice actors are having fun doing these lines.

While I am not going to say the sound design is perfect, the voice acting and sound effects are what truly shine in this game. The effects draw you in and coupled with the top notch work from the voice actors, it feels as though this is what the movies should have been about.

If you are wary of the series because of the Bayformers, do yourself a favour and play these games.

This is Daimo mac and I am lost in the music.

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