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Toying With My Emotions: More Transformers Devastation

Just a quick update on Transformers Devastation, which I got all excited about yesterday – partly because it’s the Bayonetta/Metal Gear Revengywengy devs making it but mostly because I’M A HELPLESS MANCHILD WHO REMAINS FASCINATED BY PLASTIC ROBOT TOYS HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME OH GOD WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME.

Last night, we got a better look at how Platinum’s 80s-styled robo-brawler actually plays. It’s a lovely-looking thing and oozes fan service from every cel-shaded pore, but I’m feeling it less than I was.

Part of the reason for that is my own horrible pointless fanboy purity: fights in G1 Transformers usually involved a row of robots shooting inaccurately at another row of robots, before transforming and driving/flying away. This is a torrent of hyperspeed melee strikes, and that dissonance only grows when you have tiny Bumblebee turning into a yellow whirlwind and kicking massive Megatron’s hovering keister. No. Megatron would just flatten the over-used bug immediately, and I know I’d cheer.

But it’s more than that: there’s a weightless quality to it all, leaving me worried there won’t be much sense that these are massive metal men going at it. In fairness, that’s something any Transformers fiction has struggled to maintain: you need to show the towering bots in context to Earthlings to meaningfully demonstrate their massiveness, but that quickly becomes dull because it’s so much more entertaining to see the Transformers interact with each other than with puny humans. So it becomes a soap opera starring colourful, cubey people, and here we are. Only there’s no talk and only war here:

Clearly, it needs to be fast and involved to feel sufficiently game-y, but I worry that it’s too fast. We shall see. Excruciatingly awkward interview with Platinum there too, but it can’t be easy when you’ve got a live translator involved.

So I’m less sure now that Devastation is the Transformers game I’ve long craved (because, really, I want the soap opera, the science fiction and most of all some sense of direct, personal involvement in transformation – I love the figures because they’re carefully-engineered logic puzzles, not because they’re little men with guns), but I can’t deny that it looks the part, or that I’ll play it. I will. I so will. I do like the way they’ve integrated transformation into combat, and the cast of characters can’t be faulted (I’d be so down with Animated Movie DLC that added in Ultra Magnus and Galvatron). The Soundwave/tapes boss fight looks like a treat, too. I just hope that talk of tweakable difficulty settings means there’s a way to make my bots feel consciously lumbering rather than like flying papercraft.

Still, though: it is frankly astonishing that this game is happening. Or maybe it isn’t: increasingly, it seems that nostalgia is enormously bankable, and rights-holders are now ready and willing to cash in on that wherever they can.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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