So I’ve been a little distracted the last couple weeks. Along with last week’s amazing announcements out of NYCC 2015, there was the release of a certain video game.
When Transformers Devastation was first announced, it got my attention because of the phrase “Generation One Transformers!” but quickly lost it with “action hack and slash”. It then instantly gained it back when it was announced that PlatinumGames would be making it. These are the guys responsible for some of the most stylish and downright beautiful games out there. First as Clover Studios with Viewtiful Joe and Ōkami (a particular favourite of mine) and then as PlatinumGames with titles like The Wonderful 101.
Even then, I rarely buy video games when they are released, preferring instead to wait until the game hits its inevitable super bargain sale price. There was a part of me that started thinking, “The game is only $49 and buying it at release will actually show support for the franchise..” but I still was hesitant. Then they announced the other inevitability of modern games: the pre-order bonus DLC.
Red Alert. I have a soft spot for Red Alert. Finally that and one other thing pushed me into a pre-order. Optimus was a given, Bumblebee of course, Grimlock naturally, though Sideswipe was a nice surprise. So who did they pick to round out this squad of five Autobots? Ironhide? Jazz? Prowl? No. Of all the rough-and-tumble, battle-ready Autobots they could have picked, they choose Wheeljack. Not the head of security, the special ops agent, or the military strategist; but the science nerd, the inventor, the weaponsmith (this last one, it would turn out, is the clencher and, I’m assuming, how he made it into the game.)
So I plunked down my monies and crossed my fingers. Finally the day arrived and thanks to Amazon’s wonderful release day delivery, I was ready to go.
I was not disappointed in the least. This game is seriously as close to being able to play through an original G1 episode as you will ever see. This includes: the cheesy banter (with many of the original actors!); the bright colors; the over-the-top, fast moving action; the object of conflict that is vitally important but only Optimus has ever even heard of it; and a scheming Starscream making threats… as soon as Megatron’s back is turned.
There’s also multiple appearances by the conveniently hyper-aware Teletraan I.In short, all the loving details that could only have been gleaned by actual fans of the original series. I normally disregard the opinions of critics across the board — movies, videogames, you name it. However, the reaction to the game has been quite positive with one particular reviewer nailing it,
“Platinum’s love letter to old school Transformers“
I’m just going to go through the very first part of the first chapter of the game, trying to spoil as little as possible.
He gives Starscream a particularly scathing rebuke, provoking Starscream’s threat show above. Speeding to the scene — and somewhat characteristically late to the party — are the Autobots cars followed by a tromping Grimlock.
Grimlock galumphing behind them reminded me a lot of the Robots in Disguise Grimlock stomping along behind his squad. You are then given control of Optimus and taught the ropes of controlling these robots in disguise.
You round a corner and suddenly: Decepticons!
Decepticon generics are used to keep the action going between battles with the big guys. They come in a couple different flavors. There are these Ground Soldier Warriors who are occasionally lead by the tougher Ground Soldier Sergeant. All of which are based on the “Battlecharger” body type used by Runabout and Runamuck.
Then there are Seeker body type soldiers, based on the Conehead seekers.
The Decepticons aren’t the only ones bringing it to the game. On the Autobot side, all the personalities are spot-on. Sideswipe is mostly cavalier, sometimes spoiling for a fight.
Bumblebee is sprightly and somewhat silly.
Grimlock is angry, earnest, fire-breathing, slow, and just a little bit sweet? (Seriously, his run in dino mode has to be seen to be believed. *waddlewaddlewaddle*)
Wheeljack is constantly warning bad guys, “Don’t mess with the geek!” in his New York/Chicago accent. He then proves that by building an immobilizer on the fly to take out giant swaths of enemies at once.
Seriously, what is his accent supposed to be? At one point during the game, Wheeljack was talking over the communicator and my wife asked, “Is that Rattrap? Is Rattrap in this game too?”
Optimus is suitably grim and purposeful.
This combined with Megatron’s exasperated and saracastic demeanor leads to some great cutscene moments. Megatron’s snark is great.
In Optimus’ defense, the game gives him plenty of reasons to be grim and purposeful. One happened so early on in the game, I was actually surprised. Immediately after the first bit of training in how to walk, drive, and fight, Optimus comes up a street to suddenly have this peeking over a building at him.
This is literally moments into the game. At first I thought, “Oh, I get a glimpse of him but don’t fight him until later?” Then, just as equally out of nowhere,
Devastator vaults over the building.
Just like that, you are already in the battle for your life with the behemoth.
Suddenly the short introduction to the combo system, vehicle attacks, and — most importantly — dodging become vital to your survival. The combo system is quite extensive and fun — growing as you unlock new combo progressions. Another critic summed up combat in the game perfectly,
a “satisfying combat system that rewards timing and tenacity” based upon “[s]ilky-smooth melee combos”
All this is not to say the game is without issues. While I haven’t had any problems (quite the opposite), some take issue with how the camera works in the game. The overall shortness of the campaign has, of course, been pointed out, but it’s usually accompanied with people saying that some of the boss fights can be quite hard. To me it seems to me that anyone that finds it to be over too soon while finding some of the fights to be difficult hasn’t put enough time into the weapon synthesizing, the T.E.C.H. building (that Wheeljack plays a big part in and probably that thing that necessitated his inclusion), and general leveling-up parts of the game. Leveling-up lets you take on the higher rank difficulty levels, which in turn unlocks even more awesome weaponry.
I highly recommend the game. If you are big on length-versus-cost, then you may want to think about waiting until the game gets discounted — which it most likely will.
Alrighty, if I go much further into the story-stuff, it would get too far into some spoilery territory that you really should encounter yourself. That being said, I will be going a little further into the story in the coming week, but with a purpose. To try to make up for neglecting the blog in favour of the game, I’ve decided to follow the theme of Transformers: Devastation by doing posts of a somewhat recent Combiner Wars release that shows up pretty darn faithfully in the game. Tune in
Tuesday Wednesday for part one of four as the Devastation continues!