Thankfully, Escalation mode does return, and for the most part, it is better than ever. Escalation is the Transformers-themed take on a Survival mode, similar to the Gears of War series' Horde mode. Four players can team up online to survive as long as possible through fifteen increasingly difficult waves of enemies. As in War for Cybertron, there are two Escalation mode maps for each faction, which is not nearly enough to have a good variety from game to game. I'm sure we can expect additional maps in upcoming DLC packs, but still, out of the box, there are only four total, which is too few.
As players kill the opposing robots in each wave, they earn credits which can be spent to buy more ammo, health, better weapons, and more. A particularly co-op friendly addition is the ability to spend credits collectively to unlock team weapon upgrades. These upgrades might cut reload times, or give bonuses to damage. You can also unlock new areas of the map to increase your mobility. Players can revive fallen teammates in the middle of battle, but even if you don't make it, you'll respawn at the next wave.
A particularly intriguing addition are the traps and special abilities that appear during Escalation mode. You might be granted the ability to place a wall of fire, for example, which obviously is of great benefit when a big group of bad guys are headed your way. You can also call in a gunship, if you can afford it, and this pretty much allows you to cruise through a level on auto-pilot. You'll need all these different traps and upgrades to survive, since Escalation mode is quite challenging, even on Easy difficulty.
The competitive options for multiplayer are pretty much what you'd expect. This is where you can create your own Transformer, customizing it as you see fit. Four different classes can be chosen from, ranging from the sneaky Infiltrator to the brutal Titan. By playing in matches, you can earn experience which unlocks different features and perks. Sadly, you cannot use your multiplayer character in Escalation mode, instead being limited to the same four Autobots or Decepticons tied to that mode. Allowing multiplayer characters in Escalation would have added greatly to the long-term enjoyment of the game.
Coming from a purely co-op perspective, Fall of Cybertron is a disappointment. Taking out the much-celebrated campaign co-op was a mind-boggling decision. The remaining bone for co-op lovers to chew on is Escalation mode, and though it has some obvious upgrades from the original, it clearly doesn't pack the punch of Campaign mode, nor the longevity of earning experience with a Multiplayer character. Overall, Fall of Cyberton is a solid title, but it falls far short of providing a great time for co-op fans.
The Co-Optimus review of Transformers Fall of Cybertron is based on the 360 version of the game which was provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Four players can team up for the online Escalation mode.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.