E3 2015: Talking Bout My Generation 1 in Transformers: Devastation
Hasbro's Transformers brand has been one of the most consistently popular properties for fans of all ages since it debuted in 1984. There have been many incarnations of the robots in disguise over the last thirty years, but the Generation 1 version has always been the dominant fan favorite. Though we've seen the characters from that iteration of the cartoon and action figure series in game before, we've never seen them brought to life quite like this.
Developed by Platinum Games, and under the direction of Kenji Saito (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance), Transformers: Devastation is a third-person action brawler that puts you in the shoes of Autobots Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, Grimlock and their leader, Optimus Prime. What's more, it's rendered to look like the animated series of old, and has many of the original cast members reprising their roles, including Frank Welker and Peter Cullen. The visual flair and iconic voices would be meaningless if Devastation wasn't fun to play, so it's a good thing the action is fast and exciting, and chock full of Platinum's trademark style.
If you've played Metal Gear Rising, you have a decent starting point for how Transformers: Devastation plays (minus the Zandatsu slicing). The demo we got our hands on let us test out Optimus Prime in a tutorial-esque setting before battling it out with Devastator himself. Melee combat is all about quick combos that can shred Decepticon grunts in an instant, which makes it easy to learn. However, like Metal Gear Rising, there's a lot of depth to the system, which also uses parrying and vehicle attacks to spice things up. Button-mashing might work for a little while, but eventually you'll have to learn the ins and outs of timing, parrying and evasion to get the most out of your combos.
While duking it out with Decepticons, a blue flash will occasionally appear, hinting that you can quickly tap the shoulder button to turn into Optimus' truck form for a more devastating attack. The transformation and revert to robot form happen quickly, allowing you return to hacking and slashing your way to swift victory. Optimus also has two much more powerful attacks at his disposal (one each for robot and vehicle forms), which you can power up by dispatching of Decepticons.
The truck special summons Optimus' trailer from out of nowhere for a spinning whip, while his normal form's special unleashes a ground and pound with a wide area of effect. Both are great for situations when you're surrounded, or standing between the legs of a giant made of Constructicons. You can also switch between the robot and vehicle forms of the Transformers at any time, though our time with the game was more focused on sticking to Optimus' humanoid mode.
Seeing Devastator rise above the buildings in the city to enter the battlefield is rather awe inspiring, despite the fact that he's looking to put the hurt on you. The scale and size of the battles is impressive, and again harkens back to some of Metal Gear Rising's most ridiculously memorable moments. Optimus barely reaches Devastator's knees, and the only place to truly damage him is by hitting him smack in the face. There are plenty of opportunities to do so, as you can stagger Devastator with some precision attacks, or wait for key moments in battle when he needs a breather from beating the Energon out of Optimus.
It's really fulfilling to finally take the giant down, even if this is just a demo and the difficulty isn't exactly ramped up to provide an insane challenge. Platinum has a keen sense for combat, and while you wouldn't think Transformers immediately fit in with this kind of crazy, combo-heavy action brawler genre, it's easily some of the most fun we've had with a Transformers game in years. While we only got to test out Optimus Prime, we did see some of Bumblebee in action, and he plays completely differently than his Autobot mentor. With multiple other characters to play as, there's clearly going to be a lot of ways to enjoy putting the boots to the Decepticons.
Transformers: Devastation will be available on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC this fall.