If you know how the war ends, does that make the battle any less compelling?

Nope. Not if you’re Transformers: Fall of Cybertron from developer High Moon Studios and publisher Activision.

I missed High Moon’s first game that’s separate from the movies, Transformers: War for Cybertron, but I had no trouble jumping right into its sequel which actually begins at the end of the game. And what a spectacular first chapter does it make.

The image of you, as Optimus Prime, holding a fallen comrade, as the Ark, the spaceship and savior of your race, is in danger of coming apart high above your dying planet of Cybertron… that stuck with me for a few days before I got the chance to race through and play more of the game.

The game then flashes back and shows how you arrived at this point. You fight, third-person shooter style, across multiple battles on Cybertron as the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, are trying to find a way off the dying planet. You rarely stay playing as one character for too long, and halfway through the game, you even switch sides to the Decepticons. (It’s a bit jarring at first, but it’s worth it.)

This means you constantly have different game styles and special skills to experience. You can use a grappling hook when you’re playing as Jazz, invisibility when you’re playing Starscream (you can play stealth!) or rockets, oh the rockets you’ll shoot when you’re Megatron.

You’re also able to constantly upgrade your weapons or other perks through the “money” you earn when you kill your enemies. You spend it at upgrade terminals littered throughout the game. (They’re just as plentiful as health and ammo, at least when you’re playing on Normal mode as I did.)

The voice acting is top notch, especially Peter Cullen of course as Optimus Prime, but the voice actor behind Starscream shouldn’t be overlooked either. While the developer plays a little fast and loose with Transformers canon – which I’ll admit, I’m not as up on as I should be – you probably won’t really care that that’s not really how the Dinobots were created. The story is fluid, intense and rarely contains a dull moment.

While at first I wanted to continue playing as the Autobots and not switch to playing as the bad guys, that design decision made the final chapter of the game all the more thrilling, as you switched from one to the other within minutes and in real-time. For instance, as you finish up one of part of the battle, you’ll see a Transformer fly by just as you take control of them. You even chose who you could play in the final moments of the game—which seemed a nod to fan service. (I played as Optimus.)

There’s multiplayer. As usual, I didn’t touch it. The single player campaign was thrilling and addictive enough for me. It rarely lets up and it gets you to care about the fate of yes—a bunch of robots. Why? Because the developer takes the war seriously.

The ending wasn’t what I expected (I figured the game would end about 5 minutes after where it did end), but it seemed ultimately fitting for the battle I had just fought through.

This title came out in August, and while there’s a ton of AAA games coming out on the market now – including Borderlands 2 – you definitely need to make some time for at least the single player campaign of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.

* Disclosure: An XBOX 360 copy of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron was provided by Activision for the purposes of this review. *