Much like every other adult with an unhealthy love of The Transformers, I spent a good portion of my formative years on the floor, plastic robots in hand, crafting elaborate scenarios from whole cloth that would pit my diminutive armies against one another. Of course, reality always intervened — my battles were never anything more than elaborately-posed dioramas — but that certainly didn’t stop my imagination.
Now, Platinum Games has taken the series I hold so close to my heart and adapted it into yet another video game. This combination was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, considering both the tepid reaction to Platinum’s The Legend of Korra and Transformers‘ history with licensed games. Keeping a careful eye on upcoming titles is always a good thing. But sometimes, you can’t help yourself — you get excited, for one reason or another. This time, in my particular case, it was the simple act of playing the game.
Transformers: Devastation takes place during Season 2 of the cartoon, right before the 1986 film. That’s just one example of the attention to detail Platinum has applied to the game. They’ve even based generic enemies on the obscure Jumpstarter figures, a visual reference that earned a sizable grin. All your favorite characters are back too, with their original voices. Peter Cullen is unlikely to relinquish the Optimus Prime crown any time soon (despite having been outclassed by both David Kaye and Garry Chalk years ago), so he’s still hanging around. Dan Gilvezan, the original Bumblebee, is back in the game too, delivering a solid performance. However, the death of Chris Latta has deprived us of Wheeljack, resulting in a competent sound-alike.
The game has five playable characters: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Grimlock, and Wheeljack. During the demo, we got our hands on Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Although the characters feel different, there’s a consistent undercurrent there — a good sign of a solid combat system.
Although this may come as no surprise to Platinum fans, Devastation‘s combat is simultaneously flashy and responsive. Even Bumblebee’s light attack looks like it hits hard. Transformation is even incorporated; during a combo, players can transform into a car and ram into their foes, only to transform back and keep the combo rolling. This even works in midair. For example, during an enormous boss fight with the combiner Devastator, Optimus rocketed toward Devastator’s head in truck mode before turning into a robot and smashing the Decepticon’s face in with his Energon axe. This kind of spectacle is exactly what I was imagining on the floor of my living room, all those years ago.
There’s one thing in particular that stood out to me when I saw the game, and I think it perfectly encapsulates just what makes Devastation special. Optimus has a special attack where he transforms into a truck, summons his trailer from nowhere, drifts it into his foe, and then transforms back as the trailer disappears. Optimus Prime’s disappearing trailer is a Transformers inside joke that’s been turned into an attack in this real video game. Yeah, Transformers: Devastation plays like a dream. But it’s nice to see one of my favorite franchises treated with the respect I believe it deserves. This truly is the Year of Cosimano.