Autobots, roll out!
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, especially when it comes to video games. If I replay a level in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it can transport me directly back to that moment in time to when I first experienced it; it’s like a window to the past. It’s the same reason that retro gaming has taken off and why so many people still collect and play games from their childhood to this day: to evoke those precious memories.
It’s been interesting to watch the games industry follow suit with countless reboots and remakes of particular franchises. Even Hollywood has got in on the act, rebooting classic movies and TV franchises. Director Michael Bay springs to mind. He’s taken both the Transformers and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles films and systematically destroyed them by turning them into over edited special effects monstrosities. Call me old fashioned, but there is only one true version of Transformers to speak of, and that’s the original 80s cartoon series.
You see back in the late 80s and early 90s you had the big three – no, I’m not talking about Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer – I mean the big three cartoons: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Transformers, and Thundercats. As an impressionable youth, robots were about one of the coolest things ever, not to mention a sweeping craze for Matchbox cars at the time, which admittedly drove my early vehicular admiration. As with all good things, they tend to come around again in time for a new generation. Cue Transformers: Devastation.
Platinum Games have built Transformers: Devastation for the fans of the original Transformer’s animation, and it stays very true to the direction and style the cartoon series had all those years ago. This game is for all of us nostalgic souls who cannot get enough 80s Transformer action and want to reenact the TV series in cel-shaded graphical form.
Disguised and Dangerous
So how does it play? Well, it’s downright fun. My biggest complaint about some modern games is they can be graphically superb, but sadly offer little enjoyment to speak off in the gameplay department. Platinum Games never fall on the sword of style over substance, and boy do their games have serious style.
You’ll get to play as the fan-favourite Autobots. There’s Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and even the Dinobot Grimlock, a thoughtful touch for fans. Each Autobot has a special attack and a gauge you can fill up to unleash destructive super attacks, you can also transform into the vehicular form of your robot for added octane fuelled rage. Each Autobot feels different; Bumblebee is quick and pacey while Optimus is balanced and powerful. There is plenty of replay value; I enjoyed trying out each Autobot and experimenting with their different moves.
The gameplay in Transformers: Devastation is fast and action packed; you’ll rarely get a chance to breathe as you face battle after battle. Exploring Earth and the various levels on offer is also satisfying. The game encourages exploration, too, as there are lots of collectibles to find including new weapons, power-ups and logs to read.
Overall, the action can get a little frantic on screen sometimes, especially controlling the movement of vehicles which, due to the camera angles, can feel awkward and difficult to control at times. The game is occasionally let down by bland surrounding locations; certain areas seem rather sparse and devoid of interest. It’s clear that Transformers: Devastation was built on a budget.
Aside from the collectibles, you can upgrade your stats and purchase new weaponry to use. From swords to power fists, the arsenal is well covered here. Weapons can merge and be synthesised to improve their overall stats. Speaking to Wheeljack in the lab will also allow you to create new upgrades that you can add to your Autobot’s overall abilities.
You Can’t Destroy me, Optimus
The boss battles in Transformers: Devastation are beyond epic. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance arguably had one of the best video game boss battles – taking on the evil Senator Armstrong was nothing short of spectacular – and the boss battles are no different here, although ever so slightly subdued compared to previous Platinum titles. You’ll enjoy the feeling of testing your chosen Transformer against the might of the Destructicons and Megatron’s chosen allies. Each boss battle feels varied as you adapt to their attack patterns and determine the best way to dispatch them.
Devastation is all about perfect timing, as hitting the shoulder button at the right time will allow you to dodge attacks and slow down time as you unleash a combo of robotic thunder on your surprised opponent. The game can offer plenty of challenge on higher difficulties for those who need it.
Transformers!!! Face the Devastation
Transformers: Devastation shines when it comes to audio. The rocking heavy metal soundtrack is nothing short of outstanding, and it fits the on-screen action perfectly. Kudos to Satoshi Igarashi and Vince DiCola for the superbly constructed musical tracks. It’s one of the best video game soundtracks of this year, and your ears drums will crave it, even when the game is switched off.
Some purists of the cartoon series may argue the new soundtrack feels too modern compared to the cheesy 80s music of the animation, and that’s a fair comment. Nitpicking aside, though, I couldn’t help but smile each time an epic riff kicked in. That being said, the track Face The Devastation most closely resembles the feel and tone of the 80’s TV series’ music, and it’s pure bliss for your ears.
Many of the voice cast from the original Transforms animation make their return to voice the dialogue in the game, and it make such a difference. The voice actors of Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) & Frank Welker (Megatron & Soundwave) help to make the game’s two main protagonists shine. Sadly there isn’t anything to write home about when it comes to the story. That’s not to say it isn’t passable; it just lack imagination. Megatron is up to his no good once again and you, the Autobots, are tasked with foiling his plans.
A review code of Transformers: Devastation was provided courtesy of Xbox. The game was reviewed on Xbox One.
Transformers Devastation isn’t a perfect game by any means, but it is a whole lot of fun. If you can look past the occasional poor camera controls and repetitive nature of the gameplay, this is a game that aims to please and offers good value for money. If you call yourself a fan of the 80s Transformers cartoons then you simply have to give this a go.