Here's what happened during SDCC when High Moon Studios' Matt Tieger was joined by Fall of Cybertron voice actors Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), and Nolan North (Cliffjumper) to talk about letting players see the end of the last, great battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons.
Tieger launched into an explanation about the story and gameplay for the game, which follows War of Cybertron, where the heroic Autobots lost. Fall of Cybertron is about the death of their world. The design philosophy of the new game is about showng Cybertron and engaging with the planet and combat through the unique perspectives of each character.
High Moon Studios worked closely with Hasbro on developing the game's story, basing much of it on G1 Transformers and where possible or necessary, rewriting canon, particularly when it comes to the firebreathing space T-rex, Grimlock.
It was important to their team to dedicate sections of the game to the story. That means chunks of the environment where, in Tieger's words, "you're not pulling the trigger." Instead, you're experiencing the emotion of the story at these points. It all feeds into the darker tone of the game.
If anyone would have some insight into how the Transformers are being handled, it would be Peter Cullen, the longtime Optimus Prime voice actor. He says that in the course of the series' nearly 30 year history, Prime has remained popular with fans because of his truthworthiness.
Discussing the darker tone, Cullen says that he was confident in the booth about the lines and the role knowing the greater vision for Optimus Prime and the narrative of Fall of Cybertron. "It's like being involved in the show itself," Cullen gushed. "I was ultimately really surprised to see the finished product."
Grimlock voice actor Gregg Berger says that the appeal for his own character is the dinobot's singlemindedness, describing it as a "ready, fire, aim" mentality. "He's reactionary to whatever he hears and does," Berger explains, continuing "he's a fearsome ally to have in the cause." He says that the character is completely without a filter.
In terms of the changes between the G1 interpretation and Fall of Cybertron, Berger says that his character's grammar is perhaps a bit better than in past incarnations. Other changes, particularly in terms of Grimlock's history, Berger says all remain true to the basics of the character. He credited the game with allowing players to live the world of the Transformers instead of simply observing it.
Tieger followed up on this thread, saying that people like to play these characters because they're reflections of ourselves. Grimlock is our rage and anger, while Optimus is our basic decency.
Nolan North, playing both sides of the conflict as Cliffjumper and Decepticon Bruticus, talked about the disparity between the exuberance of the young Autobot and the weathered, battle wearniess of Bruticus. The Uncharted actor also joked that he appreciates being able use a voice that's not his own.
North also gave props to voice actor Troy Baker who plays the character Jazz in the campaign. He says the interaction between the two characters adds to the fun of the campaign, and he was happy to have the friendship that he has with Baker brought into the game. North attempted his own Jazz impression which sounds a lot like Scatman Caruthers.
As for Bruticus, he says that if Grimlock is the angry guy on the 405 Interstate, Bruticus is the one turning and saying "What are you lookin' at?" The character's gruff voice is all part of a character whow would rather bash his way through obstacles then figure things out.
Reminiscing about his G1 days, Cullen talked fondly about voicing Ironhide, while Berger talked about both Longhaul and Skyfire/Jetfire back in the 80's. With Prime, he says his favorite line for the character is "Hold on to your dreams. The future is made of dreams."
Among the clips shown during the panel, we saw Grimlock making his escape from Starscream, Cliffjumper making his way through the ruins on the surface of the planet, as well as Optimus searching for a mysterious presence beneath Cybertron.
Based on the gameplay and character trailers High Moon has shown off up to this point, sure, it's a third-person action game featuring 28-year-old toys, but that's maybe part of why it's so easy get excited when you see Metroplex rising up out to Cybertron. It's familiar stuff, but it's exciting precisely because we get to play through it.
Here's hoping the promise on screen and described by High Moon, along with the enthusiasm of everyone involved will translate into a killer game.
Transforers: Fall of Cybertron will be available on the XBox 360 and PS3 on August 21.
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