From its humble beginnings in the early 80’s, to the mega-blockbuster movies of today, the Transformers franchise has enthralled kids and adults alike by giving them something that will forever tug at their heartstrings: fast cars and giant robots. Transformers spans multiple reboots and media outlets: television, comics, toys, movies, you name it, and it is not slowing down any time soon. What is also interesting is the following that the G1 generation has, which includes myself. I grew up with the first iteration of the Transformers franchise, with the 1986 movie being one of my favorite movies of all time. Transformers: Devastation is a complete throwback to that movie and generation, and I couldn’t be happier.
Transformers: Devastation has just about everything I could ask for in a Transformers video game.
Transformers: Devastation has just about everything I could ask for in a Transformers video game. It was like the team at PlatinumGames traveled back in time and asked 8-year old me what I wanted to play. There is a lot to this game that works, but it’s not without its flaws. The first thing that caught my attention is the art direction. The designers decided to go with the Generation 1 (G1) Transformers models as opposed to creating their own, unlike the multitude of reboots. This is significant because as a fan of the G1 style, I never got a version of G1 Transformers that did it justice other than the 1986 movie and comic books. Upon re-watching the old 1980’s cartoons, the art direction there was rushed and not living up to the images I had in my mind. By utilizing a video game technique called “cell-shading”, this video game version finally provides a Transformers look that us G1 fans always envisioned. Shiny, colorful, giant robots, that actually resemble the vehicles they are modeled after, something that newer generation Transformers failed to accomplish (read: Michael Bay).
PlatinumGames continued on this thread by utilizing the most popular characters of that generation and hiring most of the original voice actors from the series. Upon actually playing the game, I found that the team managed to fit in a lot of one-liners that characterized the Transformers. The plot of any Transformers game or movie is not going to win any awards, so the best way for the characters to show their character is through their small short phrases. Optimus Prime acts as the penultimate leader, Bumblebee is the under-sized hero you can root for, Sideswipe is a quick-action ninja, while Grimlock is a dumb brute that fulfills the Hulk-smash that your heart desires.
Because this is a hack-and-slash action video game, it is destined to get repetitive and boring. The creators do their best to mitigate this through tactics like character leveling, cut-scenes, car chases, and mini-shooter games akin to Space Invaders. While this adds a small level of diversity in gameplay, you eventually get back to the core hacking and slashing with a repetitive five button presses. There are additional combos that can be learned, none of which seem to be required for the completion of the game.
What ends up winning for this game is wanting to see and hear all the cool characters in their beautiful, cell-shaded glory. This was an easy buy for pure nostalgia. All of this together moved me enough to purchase the game on release day. Is it one of the greatest games of all time? Not by a long shot. What it does is it scratches an itch that has been around for the better part of three decades. I voted with my wallet, and I hope it sets the stage for sequels to be made where the creators can build on what is an excellent start.