This latest game from High Moon Studios is part of a line of higher quality Transformers games, as evidenced by the glowing review it was given by the staff over at Game Informer. However, excellent gameplay and engaging story do not make a game accessible.
What is more, the accessibility issues that do exist in this game are not all the developers’ fault, but are due to it being a Transformers game. In fact, this game is a perfect example of how certain series are inherently less accessible than others.
From the standpoint of fine motor, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron excels. Simplistic controls and plenty of opportunity to customize and switch weapons according to your needs ensure that any player able to press two buttons at once should be able to enjoy this game. Where this game truly shines is in its implementation of quick time events. In previous articles we have talked about how rapid button sequences can make a game inaccessible for players who have muscle delays. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron does quick time events right! It simply requires players to press and hold down a single button to execute these maneuvers. This means that disabled players will be able to interact with the big set piece moments within this game, without their fine motor disabilities affecting their gameplay. Combine that with several different control settings each of which suits a different play style, and the barriers for players with fine motor disabilities become even smaller.
The only other significant challenge gamers may face in the area of fine motor is that this is a fast paced shooter, and the player has to be able to react quickly to avoid dying. But the game compensates for this by giving the player lots of save points throughout the thirteen levels that encompass the main campaign. So even if they die a lot, a player won’t spend a lot of time retreading the same ground.
Unfortunately, however, there are serious accessibility issues with this game, from both the standpoint of auditory and the standpoint of visual accessibility. As a result of it being a Transformers game, everything is very brightly colored, and, in most cases, players must distinguish between these in order to progress in the game. A perfect example of this is that all the characters within the game are giant metal robots, and the only difference between the two factions is their color scheme. This affects certain levels more than others because, though in a large portion of the game a player can count on every other robot they see being an enemy, there are several large battles the player takes part in which include him working together with allies. To do this properly, players need to be able to distinguish colors, since the game’s overhead labeling system of friends and enemies is intermittent at best.
Furthermore, because Fall of Cybertron takes place in a mechanical world, the backdrop is full of right angles and rigid shapes. Even though I have 20/20 vision and no problem with colorblindness, I found myself repeatedly panning the camera around because I would lose the marker for the current objective I was trying to move towards.
From the standpoint of auditory accessibility, this game fares little better. It takes place in the midst of a war, which results in an extremely cluttered sound track. This means that even a player with no auditory challenges will find themselves straining to hear the dialogue over the artillery in the background. And even though subtitles are comprehensive and even give non-essential dialogue, because the subtitles are written over such a cluttered background they can be exceedingly hard to read, even for the non-disabled.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a good game. And if you are able to play it, you should. Unfortunately, there are so many issues arising simply from the fact that it is a Transformers game, that both players with auditory and players with visual challenges may want to avoid this title—unless they are diehard Transformers fans.
Please feel free to leave comments below the article that address your particular accessibility challenges with this game. If you feel there is a major omission in this review, please feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “revision” in the subject line. Please include specific details regarding anything we may have missed. If necessary, we will update our review based on your feedback.
Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Partially Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible
Released For: PS3, XBox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: T
GameInformer Score: 9.0