I’ve been attending San Diego Comic Con International since the late 90s and there is one booth that always seems to be the first stop. The Hasbro booth is not only one of the largest booths, but you can’t help but stop and admire the rather large collection of Transformers as they are more then meets the eye.
While doing my routine stop, I happened to notice something a little different this year, there has been TVs in the past, but this one featured Platinum Games: Transformers Devastation. Even better, it happened to be a playable demo. Has Platinum Games made the ultimate Transformers game, or are we looking at another Legend of Korra.
I want to note, that while I have played Bayonetta I haven’t played it enough. Which means this hands on is more of a newbie to the Platinum Games fighting engine.
Once I started talking with the rep about the game, I think it only took about a second before I asked the important question “Can you play as Grimlock?” The answer was an immediate yes, and I was handed the control.
Now I knew roughly what to expect when playing this game, though what I wasn’t prepared for was being floored by the nostalgia train or AstroTrain. Just the mere sfx of the transformation brought me an instant smile.
The game utilizes a cell shaded approach to the visual stylings of the game. Think kinda like the Windwaker HD mixed with old school 80s vibe. The graphics have a very bright and clean look to them. The character designs are a hybrid of the G1 Transformers from the 80’s mixed with the Transformers Generation Toy line from Hasbro. What I liked most about the designs was its ability to look familiar without looking dated. Oh and there is something very special in this game and that’s the voice acting. Most of the original cast is back Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee), Michael Bell (Sideswipe), Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave) and “Me Grimlock!!” Gregg Berger.
Now being somewhat new to the Bayonetta / Platinum Games fight engine it took me only a few seconds to understand the controls. With most of the combat being focused around the ability to transform it was interesting to see how this played within the combo system. Essentially you have various transforming attacks. As you start the combo every five hits you can combo in a tranformation. With Grimlock in particular he would go dino mode and roll into the opponent. There is also a ground pound; think of Optimus Prime going truck mode and dropping on someone.
You also have a gun of sorts; each Transformer has a different weapon style. Grimlock was rocking a sort of shotgun very short but powerful bursts. Dodging was also very fun, right before an attack you can dodge and go behind a character to setup a devastating attack. It was quite an impressive and very fun style of gameplay. It also was interesting to see all these techniques brought together for the final fight: you vs. Devastator.
What was really impressive was how each character has a different style of combat. While Grimlock was slow but powerful I enjoyed watching how Wheeljack would speed around his opponents. It really highlighted the ability to transform and how unique it is for each character.
As a gaming journalist I felt it was my responsibility to ask the hard question. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me use the #IWantToBelieve to describe this game. Which honestly is how I felt; the trailer looked stunning but so did Legends of Korra, which was also developed by Platinum Games and sadly bombed.
I asked the rep about the Legend of Korra and how was Tranformers Devastation going to be different. He informed me that Platinum saw the feedback and reviews of Korra and were shocked. As such they are taking extra care that Transformers Devastation would be different. Which was reassuring but I was more impressed with the fact that Andy Schmidt who wrote the Transformer Comic for IDW was handling the story elements.
While I certainly had my doubts about this title, after a bit of hands on time I’m pretty confident that at the very least it’s going to be a fun game. Though with the addition of a solid story, I think this game could very easily be a winner.