To be honest, I'm hardly a leading authority when it comes to the Transformers franchise. Up until last week, the name "Omega Supreme" meant nothing to me. If pushed, I'd have probably guessed that it was some kind of new pizza, aimed at the health-conscious middle class masses. It'd have salmon chunks, Moroccan chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes on it, with some kind of echinacea sprinkled on top. Oh and there'd be an option to get the stuffed crust version - only instead of cheese, the base would be packed with houmous.
As it turns out, I've since discovered that Omega Supreme is the name of a really massive Autobot, a giant of righteous laser death who acts as the last line of defence. For the good guys. I have no idea what he turns into, but it's probably something pretty big and ugly - like Milton Keynes. As I say, I don't know - but if you do, then the chances are that you're a pretty big fan of the popular cartoon series. If that's the case, rejoice - because the 'bot designs in War For Cybertron are heavily based upon those that were used in the beloved Generation 1 series. Forget about what Michael Bay did with the films; High Moon Studios is going back to square one. In fact, it's going back even further, because this game is about the original conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons: the civil war for the fate of Cybertron.
The last Transformers game, Luxoflux's tie-in with the Revenge of the Fallen movie, used a rather unusual format, offering open arena-like levels with loads of buildings to climb up. It was a strange mix of shooting, close combat, vehicle action and even some quasi-platforming. By contrast, War For Cybertron looks like it'll be much more focused on delivering straight-up, third-person shooter antics. Naturally there will be some of those other elements here too: you can perform melee attacks, clamber about the environment and, obviously, turn into a vehicle. Still, the brunt of the action involves discharging your cannon into someone's face (apologies, I'm currently working on a script for Carry On Transformers, and it's hard to shake the innuendo; I want to digitally recreate Sid James and have him voice a horny Megatron).
Lots of familiar genre staples are on display here: there are grenades, ammo packs and weapons to grab off the floor, and you're limited to holding two different guns at once. If you want to be precise with your violence, you can aim down the sights. The only convention missing is a proper cover-to-cover system; there are lots of scenery items to hide behind, but the up-tempo pace of battle leaves little time for crouching like a coward. There's a run-and-gun feel to the fighting, and there seems to be a lot going on at any given time: in the first stage we were shown, the Siege of Iacon, there were jets and flying bots battling in the skies overhead as Optimus and friends battled Decepticons on the ground. It felt very much like a war game, with the player's actions being just part of a larger struggle.
Activision and High Moon actually showed off several missions at last week's presentation. Some of these sections were given more air time than others, but overall the demos gave a good sense of the flavours on offer. The aforementioned siege level was given the most attention, coming across as a sort of third-person Call of Duty with transforming robots. A series of apparently linear objectives forced the Autobots, still recovering from the death of Zeta Prime, to push through enemy lines to activate a set of anti-air defences. Our demonstrator was using a young, pre-leadership Optimus Prime for this mission, but had he so chosen he could have played as Bumblebee or Ratchet instead. All bots have different strengths and abilities, with unique powers linked to their character: Optimus gets Leadership, a move which grants buffs to all nearby allies, and if I were a betting man (which I am) I'd wager that Ratchet will get some kind of health-dispensing ability. There will always be a choice of three bots at the start of a mission, and the other two machines will be controlled by either the AI or other human players; drop-in co-op for three is supported throughout both campaigns.