Friday, October 15, 2010

Power Core Combiners Bombshock with Combaticons Review

DocWho Reviews: Power Core Combiners Bombshock with Combaticons

Well, by now, you have all probably seen this toy or some other Power Core Combiner in stores and formed some kind of opinion on it. Lord knows I have. What I think about the concept is irrelevant to the quality of the toy. But that's the question, isn't it? How good is this toy?

Well, thanks to the generosity of Hasbro PR, we have the means to find out.

First, let's look at the individual drones in their vehicle mode.

The jeep and the halftrack are by far my favorites. The jeep even has
a point of articulation, in that the missiles on top can turn 360 degrees. Both of these toys are very solid, and look nice standing (parked?) next to Bombshock.

However, the tank and missile carrier are another matter. The hand so obviously hanging off the tank is incredibly floppy, and the whole of the missile c

arrier is like a Slinky. However, that weakness can be used to turn the missile carrier into a turret for Bombshock to use. Simply take the blue peg on Bombshock's arm, rotate it out so it's pointing the same direction as the fist. Plug in the missile carrier, set the hand part on the ground, and you're done. Not bad as fanmodes go.

So, the drones themselves are actually pretty neat on their own. I could see myself shelling out money to get a 4-pack of drones by themselves to go with the 2-pack PCC figures.

Bombshock Vehicle Mode

Based on this vehicle mode alone, I'm going to call Bombshock Not-Onslaught from now on. This is so obviously an Onslaught homage that I can't believe Bombshock wasn't just called Onslaught. His alt mode is basically a mini version of Onslaught's. And it's not very good.

It seems more like an afterthought. The gist of his transformation is basically lay him down, and fold his arms back.

It's not a bad alt mode though. It just seems like it would've fit in better with the alt-modes of Armada or Energon. A few years too late, Not-Onslaught.

Not-Onslaught Robot Mode

Now, my feelings on the overall execution of Power Core Combiners aside, I really do love the individual scout molds, and Not-Onslaught here is no exception. They've all got nicely proportioned robot modes and nice articulation, which is why I'd actually recommend him for purchase when he's repainted.

Continuing the trend of homaging G1 Onslaught in every mode, he also sports two cannons on his back that can be positioned over his shoulder due to the fact that he doesn't have conventional weapons.

The only problem that I can find with this mode is that due to his nap-like transformation, he has weak feet. His heels are practically non-existent. Therefore, he tends to be a little top-heavy. This is still a minor quibble, and it's still a nice robot mode overall.

And now, on to the entire point of Power Core Combiners.


Getting Not-Onslaught into his torso mode isn't that hard, really. Just rotate the backpack 180 degrees, pull it up over his shoulders, and that's pretty much the gist of it. Then just plug in the appropriate drones, and you're done.

Let me get the good part out of the way. Not-Bruticus looks really nice as a display piece. The cannons also function in this mode.

From his waist down, Not-Bruticus also has very nice articulation. It's about on the level of the Energon combiners, except less hampered by kibble.

Now, on to the less than pleasing upper half.

The arms have exactly one point of articulation: a shoulder swivel. Both of Not-Bruticus' arms can move up and down. That's it. If you want to get creative with the transformation, that adds a little bit more articulation, but it's pretty poor for the most part. Not to mention the fact that the hands are extremely floppy. (Although I hear this has been fixed with the Protectobots and the Destrons)

Even though Not-Bruticus looks nice, in the end, he can't do much, which is disappointing.

Final thoughts

I think Power Core Combiners are a pretty cool idea in concept. So far, it's worked 50% of the time, with the Aerialbots being a pretty soild set. The individual 2-packs are actually really neat, and I'm recommending that's where you spend your money if you're looking for some neat scout and Targetmaster figures. But this review is about Bombshock.

And unfortunately, I can't give Bombshock a hearty recommendation, not at $20. If he was at $10~15, then I could recommend it to someone who enjoys gestalts and thinks the concept is pretty cool. If you must have a PCC drone/commander set, I recommend going after the repaints, either the Protectobots or the Destrons.

Bombshock's final score can't be any more than a 6 at his current price. It was a good first attempt, and apparently Hasbro's learned from their mistake, which is excellent.

6s are slightly above average. If you're really into what you've seen of these pictures, you'll like the figure. If you haven't been sold yet, you probably won't be.

My next review, will be Searchlight with Backwind. Will that be enough to prove my theory that the 2-packs are vastly superior? Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Botcon LIVE photo update!

That's right it's time for another other LIVE photo update! Our extended report will be coming out in the days following Botcon, but if you want the most up-to-date coverage, make sure to keep a watchful eye right here on our Botcon 2010 breaking news special report LIVE photo update, uploaded for your eyes as it happens!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Video Game Review: Transformers: War for Cybertron PS3/360

REVIEW: Transformers: War for Cybertron PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
by: TriPredRavage
So here we are nearly a year after that which was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Transformers has once again stepped up to the plate in an attempt to deliver a new video game experience that doesn’t leave us feeling half full. Beware, SPOILERS ahead.

War for Cybertron takes an interesting approach to the TF video game industry. Look back to the other games and their release dates, and they all appear rather logical, being games released alongside or just post the conclusion of a specific series. WfC, on the other hand, sets out to tell the untold tale of the beginning of the Transformers War. (Ignoring the number of comics that have told varying versions of the origin of the war, that is.)

The campaign mode of the game is ten chapters long, starting with chapters I and VI unlocked (I being the first of the Decepticon story, VI being the first of the Autobot story). As you play through them, the chapters unlock in order until finally all ten are completed.

I began the game with chapter I, which seemed like a logical place to begin, and it proved to be so.

Megatron and his team begin their quest to acquire a rare breed of Energon known as “Dark Energon” from a facility under the protection of Starscream and Jetfire. At the end of this level, Megatron proves himself to be strong, causing Starscream to swear his allegiance to the Decepticon cause, and it all goes downhill from there for the team. Along the way, Megatron overwhelms and captures the current Prime, Zeta Prime, throwing the Autobot forces into disarray. The Decepticon story ends in Chapter V with the Decepticons infecting Cybertron’s core with the Dark Energon, corrupting it to their will.

The Autobot story begins with Bumblebee in search of Optimus in order to inform him of Zeta Prime’s defeat, and Optimus takes temporary lead of the Autobots until the council can appoint the new Prime. Stuff happens, Optimus is named the new Prime and given the instruction to evacuate Cybertron as he goes to free the core from the influence of the Dark Energon.

Each chapter averages out to be about an hour to an hour-and-a-half long with a dozen checkpoints for each level. Each level also allows you to select one of three characters before hand to play as, while the other two act as backup throughout the level. The only problem with this is that you have no idea what character is best suited for the level and events to follow, so you sort of pick blindly by choosing whomever you like best.

Characters are iconic and true to themselves as we would expect them to be, even in jeopardy of making the story a little nonsensical. For example, Starscream begins the game opposing Megatron, but swears loyalty when he sees Megatron’s awesome might. Then from Chapter II on, Starscream spends the entirety of the game trying to take over the Decepticons. Yeah, we know that Starscream is a backstabber, but in this case, it was out of nowhere that he just decides he wants to lead the Decepticons.

As I said, though, everybody is very true to what we would expect from them. Bumblebee is energetic and eager, Optimus is a strong leader, Megatron is merciless, etc… My personal favorite was Warpath who couldn’t help himself but yell “KABLAM!!” every chance he had. Laughs all around.

Playstyle-wise, I didn’t feel that there was all that much different from character to character, with the exception of flyers, whose vehicle modes feature a much broader range of motion. Some seemed better at melee attacks than others, but it all seemed rather inconsequential as to who I picked until I started relying on their special abilities which proved to make the difference between the characters. I recommend paying attention to those skills when selecting your character, as it will make all the difference in later levels.

The controls were for the most part reminiscent of past games, but an obvious improvement from RotF’s game was isolating the Transform control to pressing in an analog stick. Otherwise, it was all very straight forward.

The game’s difficulty curve, I felt was pretty steep. I’m an experienced gamer, but by no means consider myself hardcore. That said, I started on Medium difficulty, and by the end of the first level I set the game down to easy. So, there does seem to be a learning curve, and you can increase the difficulty as you become more accustomed to the game.

However, there seems to be a trend as of late in games that they don’t make moments necessarily challenging as much as they just make them incredibly hard. War for Cybertron falls victim to this a bit as well. There were a few instances where I found myself dying repeatedly simply because the game spawned a hoard of enemies and it was too difficult to figure out the best way to run away. These moments were few and far between, but are still worth noting.

War for Cybertron definitely prides itself on being unique and original, but it seems to go to a point that was rather surprising. For example, the choice to use Zeta Prime (who, for as far as I can tell is an original character to the game) rather than Sentinel Prime (a character established as Optimus’ predecessor) seemed a bit odd and unnecessary. As a result, there are NO iconic Autobot characters within the Decepticon story until chapter IV where Omega Supreme appears.

However, from that point on, the Autobot story is littered with iconic Decepticons and is very fulfilling in that manner. The strange point of the Autobot campaign comes in its beginning. The Autobot story is actually very dependent upon that which happens in the Decepticon story, literally being the middle of the game’s overall plot. Thus, if you start as the Autobots, you may find yourself scratching your head in the beginning wondering how and why some things are happening.

The game supports a strong roster of characters and a very talented voice cast. A personal favorite of mine was how annoying some of the dialogue the supporting Decepticons had throughout the game, as Megatron becomes increasingly irritated by their babble as levels play out, so I really felt like I was Megatron in that manner. Strangely enough, Steve Blum (who voiced characters Dark Scream and W.A.R.S. in Robots in Disguise) plays the voice of Barricade, but is also the narrator of the game, which can leave you asking “Why is Barricade the narrator?” as both voices are the same. The answer: I have no idea. It’s not a bad thing, but it did make me chuckle.

Lastly, let’s talk graphics. War for Cybertron’s graphics are very crisp. Parts of characters’ bodies are always in motion, giving that real life-like feel to them and makes the experience very enriching. The only real problem is that most everything is the same few colors, so it can be hard to distinguish objects from one another amidst a firefight. Despite that, however, there are several moments where you just look at the game and go “wow, that’s cool!”

All in all, War for Cybertron is easily the best Transformers game we’ve had since the Armada themed game, and I’m very pleased to say that. It took some risks, for better or for worse, and came out a very solid product. An important item to note is that the game features a variety of multiplayer modes, including online play, and co-operative campaign modes, but I didn’t get to try these out for this review. You can breeze through the story mode of this game if you have the time and the drive, and that can make it feel a little light for price tag, but considering all of the Trophies/Achievements to be had, as well as the variety of multiplayer modes, War for Cybertron is absolutely worth it.

Review in Summary: Good looking game; vast improvements over the last title; original ideas; strong character roster; plenty to do. Buy this game, and you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Transformers: War for Cybertron - San Francisco hands-on Preview Event!

Wednesday night, Activation, High Moon Studios, and Hasbro put together an awesome hands-on Transformers: War for Cybertron game event in downtown San Francisco!

At this Transformers War for Cybertron hands on event, we all got a lot of hands on time with this extremely cool new game! If you haven’t already seen the 3 part coverage from our previous hands on experience of Transformers: War for Cybertron at High Moon Studios and our 19 minute long multimedia photo/video interview with the game designers make sure to check it out. We have already reported on general game play mechanics and single player campaign mode, so for this write up, we will focus on the two new game modes we got to try out! The two new game modes we got hands-on time with on Wednesday were the Co-Op Campaign Mode and the new multiplayer Escalation Mode.

Transformers: War for Cybertron - Hasbro Display
Co-Op Campaign Mode was a whole lot of fun especially with the use of the headsets to talk to our fellow players in-game. Assuming at first that one character could be killed off, we left one of our comrades behind while the other two pressed on. This did not bode well for any of us as we then found out that if even one of your fiends dies, you all have to start over. Anyone on your team can revive you back to one brick of life, while Ratchet or someone with the heal ray can heal you up to full life. Thankfully, there are check-points, so when you do die (or a team mate dies), you all get to restart from a relatively near by spot, particularly helpful when nearing the end of a level. Tigatron/Wolfang step aside because there will be no lone hunters in this mode. Looking out for only your self in Co-Op Campaign mode can be down right dangerous; it is important to save the ammo and health scattered throughout the worlds for you teammates who really need it, rather than simply whoever gets there first. We got to play a whole lot more of the story/campaign mode this event, and I was thoroughly impressed! The game play and mechanics, are absolutely fantastic, and the graphics/design work of not just the characters, but the worlds is stellar. Wow, was it a lot of fun. We were able to play an entire level, culminating in a three way team up to defeat non-other than Starscream. This game blows the servos off of the previously released Transformers Movie games and bests it by leaps and bounds. I can tell this game will retain a lot of replay value! It is such a giant heap of fun to play that the only problem is, you just won’t want to set it down.

Transformers: War for Cybertron - Console Screen Shots

Even if you’ve beaten the Autobot and Decepticon campaign modes, this game has a whole lot to offer! Its non-campaign multiplayer options include team play death match, protect/capture bases, and a new escalation mode. In Escalation mode you don’t get to ‘design your own Transformers’ because this mode allows you to play as all of the iconic characters in their intended color schemes. You and your team mates (more than just 3 of you, but we weren’t told exactly how many more), fight off wave after wave of (non-iconic) enemies, drones, techno bugs, holographic warriors, and even the big thugs. I’m impressed with the level of variation in the “drones” of this game, that is, non-iconic characters. It really doesn’t feel like you keep killing the same guys over and over again, except for the holographic warriors, but you’d expect that (they’re holograms) and they’re a lot of fun to kill anyway. The basic idea of this mode is to see how long you can live, or particularly, how many waves of ever smarter/stronger/faster/more destructive enemies you can ward off before dying. When you kill enemies you pick up chips of energon, which can be used to purchase, health, ammo, new weapons, or new areas of the level in which to fight. This mode was introduced to us as “teamwork or die,” however, in Escalation, only one of your team members needs to be alive to beat a wave of enemies, when a full wave has been beaten, everyone who has previously died comes back to life. One fun touch to this mode (as well as the campaign modes) is that when you ‘die’ you can actually turn and somewhat sloppily shoot surrounding enemies while laying on the ground ‘dead.’ Your team mates have a decent amount of time to come and revive you, but it gets shorter every time you use it. Based on how this mode is designed, it will likely be the most fun cooperative mode to play with a group of mixed skill level players because unlike co-op campaign mode, your team mates can’t hold you back, they can only help you get farther, assuming they’re still alive.

Transformers: War for Cybertron - Nintendo DS Screen shots