E3 2015 – Transformers: Devastation is pure old school fun and action

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Platinum hasn’t exactly got an easy workload right now. With Scalebound, Starfox and a Nier sequel gobbling up their time, the studio is stretched rather thin as of late. But they aren’t exaclty pulling any punches with one other game property, that returns the iconic Transformers back to their classic duds and characters.

These ain’t your Michael Bay Transformers. Gone are the strange insect-influenced designs and over-imagined appearance of those Autobots and Decepticons. Instead, they’ve been replaced by Generation One Transformer designs that look like they were ripped straight from that golden age, colourful and ready to roll out.

Platinum isn’t fooling around with this project. They’ve brought in big gun and Metal Gear Rising director Kenji Saito to helm this game, an idea which already separates it from the idea that this will be a quick cash-in project, much like the fallible Legend of Korra game was, that Platinum developed. “We’re paying homage to the rich history of the brand,” Activision said in a hands-on session with the game.

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Recently, it’s been gritty and real, we’re changing that and going towards the classic stuff from the Transformers universe.

And they aren’t joking. There’s something magical about seeing the familiar shapes and designs of those Transformers, brought to life in a game. It’s a world apart from High Moon’s Cybertron series of games, which mixed gritty ideas with a modified look and feel of the G1 era. But Transformers: Devastation is unashamedly indulging in the classic source material. And it’s doing so with a combat engine that borrows a few ideas from previous Platinum action games, and then transforms the kinetic fisticuffs into a brutally simple but satisfying experience.

It all comes from the transformations present in the game, as the Autobot cast are able to roll out in their trademark vehicle forms. The heavy but powerful Optimus Prime can shift into his signature truck mode, while Bumblebee executes swift attacks as a scout vehicle. And that’s where the magic happens. Combos end with players able to transform into their vehicle mode, doing extra damage of they time the button prompt right.

It’s an idea that is pretty satisfying, as my demo involved me taking on the Constructicon Devastator and smaking him the face with all of Optimus Primes’ 18 wheels of Cybertronian fury. Combining the melee combat that Platinum is famous for, with a quick use of transformations to outflank and outrun enemies, all resulted in something magical.

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Transformers: Devastation is pure fan service, but in the best way possible. Returning voice actors such as Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, a palette that brings the classic look and feel of the franchise to life and action that is broken up into various sections where players can battle it out. When it comes to a Transformers game that is being handled by Platinum, there’s more than meets the eye to this project.

Last Updated: June 18, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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