As a child of the ‘80s, you might have mixed feelings about how the classic Transformers are depicted today. With the advent of fancy CG, the old-school cartoon look has been swept under the rug, much to the chagrin of those who grew up with the popular afternoon TV show. But accomplished developer PlatinumGames has opted to come to our rescue, as the newly announced Transformers: Devastation is a blend of old-fashioned – yet undoubtedly silky smooth – animation and modern, edge-of-your-seat combat. The team that gave us Bayonetta and Vanquish is about to give a legendary cartoon the, uh, reverse overhaul hardcore fans will adore!
Here’s some interesting back story to get us started, courtesy of Metro UK’s hands-on time with the game at E3: Director Kenji Saito and the rest of the Platinum studio are big fans of the Transformers…no, really big fans. They even have special days where they’d all bring their substantial collections in to work. That tells us that these guys will treat this project with a gentle, guiding hand, totally unwilling to wreck the classic core of a series they all seem to adore. It also helps that they recruited Andy Schmidt to pen the script; Schmidt worked on many of IDW’s Transformers comic books, so he’s just the guy to do it. In Devastation , the Earth is being converted into another Cybertron and believe it or not, the Decepticons aren’t behind it.
Of course, the story isn’t the primary focus. It never is with Platinum’s high-octane productions (which is why we’re glad Metal Gear Rising was indeed a spin-off, because we wouldn’t have wanted this particular studio to write a MGS story). Beyond the perfectly crafted look of the Generations line of Transformers toys, the focal point will indeed be on the action, which is destined to leave us gasping for air. We’ll take to the battlefield as one of five playable Autobots: Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Grimlock, Wheeljack, and the leader, Optimus Prime. All told, there will be over 30 characters in the game (including the notorious Megatron) and true to the spirit of the project, we even get the voice actors from the original cartoon!
When you’re out fighting, the other characters will be controlled by AI when necessary. Each Autobot has a specific move set and unique abilities, so it’ll probably be a good idea to experiment. There may also be situations in the game where certain characters will be better suited to handle the onslaught of enemies; for instance, you might need Sideswipe’s speed at some point. It’ll be interesting to see if the story or scenes change based on the character you select; chances are, this won’t happen, but you can bet the gameplay will be different. I suppose the only concern here will be balancing. If certain characters prove more powerful than others, you’re bound to upset the fans and disturb the general flow of the game.
But Platinum has plenty of experience crafting wonderfully balanced and wildly in-depth combat mechanics, so maybe we shouldn’t worry. And although we don’t have specific battle details just yet, you can bet the light and heavy attacks available to each character can be strung into awesome and devastating combos. I doubt we’ll see a system that’s half as intricate as Bayonetta but then again, that’s not what I want for this game; I just want a satisfying, responsive, perhaps mildly challenging mechanic. And above all else, I want to feel the power of each Autobot. This is one game where the importance of feeling powerful absolutely cannot be understated. These are Transformers!
I’m wondering if this game will appeal to anyone but fans of the original cartoon. I mean, we get a cleaner, updated set of visuals when compared to those grainy old TV shows, but is that enough? Will younger gamers just see an “old” graphics presentation, despite the obvious flash and pizzazz? Besides, don’t forget that many youngsters only know Transformers from the movies, where they’re certainly not cartoons. Well, either way, I imagine there are enough ardent followers out there who will embrace Transformers: Devastation . Check it out on October 6.