I’ve been on holiday. I come back to work mid-E3. It’s like being hurled into the sea, only instead of waves and seagulls there are explosions and men’s khaki-clad bottoms everywhere. I doggy-paddle frantically, searching for something to grab onto, to stay afloat in this ocean of screaming bluster. I’ll swim through it all in time, sure, but give me something safe and familiar to get my sealegs from. Ah, of course. A new Transformers game from Activision. It’ll be more routine shooty-bang from a jobbing in-house developer, and it will resolutely refuse to give long term plastic robot fans what they want in favour of supporting whatever joylessly spiky thing the movies or toyline are currently doing. I can snarl at it mechanically and… wait, what?
Let’s trailer it up first:
Initial reports had Transformers Devastation down as console-only, but the Activision presser revealed there’d be a PC version too. Hooray! Why hooray?
1) It’s proper Generation One, i.e. the original 80s toyline/cartoon series/comicbook rather than the numerous alt-universe characters and designs we’ve seen since. That means yer classic, flat-nosed lorry, red, white’n’blue Optimus Prime, with no flames and no lips. It’s even cel-shaded to resemble the cartoon. And! Many of the original voice cast return – not just Optimus’ Peter Cullen and Megatron’s Frank Welker, but also the guys who voiced Grimlock, Bumblebee and Sideswipe. In other words: it’s a love letter. Love letters can become cloying of course, but at least this way gonks like me finally get to discover whether the old ways really are the best ways.
2) It’s being developed by Platinum Games, they of Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This means Proper Action Game Pedigree, as well as a Japanese studio getting a swing at Transformers (whose figures were Japanese-designed, though the fiction was cobbled together in the US) for a change. Revengeance lead Kenji Saito heads up the project, and it seems we’re in for more super-fast, super-fluid action. Transformation plays a part of involved-sounding, combo-based attack chains rather than being primarily a transport mode, and there’ll be ranged weapons aplenty, so it’s not just Bayonetta wearing bits of truck cab.
Is this the Transformers game this helpeless Transformers gonk has long desired? Well, kinda. Aesthetically, absolutely: those familiar character designs seem so clean and charismatic compared to Transformers games’ kibbly norm to me, so I’m dead excited about that, but clearly I’m looking at ’em through rose-tinted tech specs. In terms of mechanics, I’ve never been much of a one for high-speed, gazillion button brawlers, but maybe the nostalgia factor will drag me in deeper than I ever got with yer Devil May Crys and whatnot. It’s frankly bloody remarkable that this is happening.
For the record, it’ll be singleplayer-only, and you only get to control Autobots (specifically, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack and Grimlock), which is kind of a bummer. I’d love to see how they made a campaign mode out of turning into a cassette recorder or a little metal insect. And yeah, that’s Devastator, combined mode of the six Constructicons, at the end of the trailer. While Devastation is very obviously going for the G1 look, if you peer closely at the character designs it’s kind of a hybrid of that and the latter-day, modernised ‘Generations/Classics/Combiner Wars’ toyline. Which, probably not coincidentally, is about to release a new Devastator. And yes, I am spending far too much time trying to justify why I should buy it.
Devastation’ll be out before the end of the year, and more in-game footage is promised for later today, but in the meantime there are more details on how it plays over on GameRetailer.