It would be fair to say that this is a game I’ve been looking forward to for ages; certainly since hearing of its impending release in the E3 news of June, 2015.
It would be equally fair to say that this is a game I’ve been looking forward to for my entire life. One of the first VHS home recordings my family made was the Transformers animated movie (pre-Michael Bay) and it thoroughly captured my imagination. The true extent of this became clearer as I committed increasingly large chunks of the script to memory and giant, shape-shifting robots became the stars of my imaginative and toy-based play for years to come.
On the back of completing Transformers: Devastation‘s campaign about 15 minutes ago, here are some thoughts on what makes this nostalgic spin-off so enjoyable.
1. These are the Transformers of my childhood movie, cartoon and action figure memories. Gone are the edgy, photo-realistic incarnations of the recent movie series and in their place are animations much more familiar and, for me at least, engaging. This artistic choice works in conjunction with a number of the points below to create the most ‘Nintendo’ gaming experience I’ve had on the PS4, and this is no bad thing.
2. They got the band back together! Many of the original voice actors reprise their iconic roles to make this a surprisingly authentic race down memory lane.
3. The vibrancy of colour employed at particular points in Devastation takes me back to days spent rolling and jumping through Donkey Kong Country on the old SNES, which truth be told was just last week so I remember it well.
4. Devastation‘s brawling, combo-based melee combat merges elements of Smash Bros. and Tekken to create something accessible and exciting right from the outset. Discovering Bumblebee’s Street Fighter-esque Hurricane Kick established him as an immediate favourite, which felt a little unfair to Optimus but had to happen.
5. The main story mode of Transformers: Devastation alternates between set piece arena combat and guided transitions, which despite producing an occasionally jilted sense of flow caters well for shorter play sessions when needed.
6. The story mode’s variation stages – such as the side-scrolling action above – present a welcome change of pace and strategy. There’s even the occasional top-down mission harking back to the days of Cannon Fodder or the original Grand Theft Auto.
7. Supplementing the story is Challenge Mode, which consists of set piece battles drawn from the main game that you can complete on a range of difficulty levels for weapons, cash or simply to achieve a higher grade. The satisfaction of cracking a higher ranking in these challenges reminds me pleasantly of Mario Kart, Ride or Gran Turismo.
8. Character selection in Transformers: Devastation allows for an immediate range of play-styles based on each Autobot’s attributes and moveset. These can be furthered tailored to the player’s preference with the application of ‘tech’ upgrades offering a wide range of randomly generated perks.
9. Devastation‘s loot system is surprisingly similar to Destiny‘s, with weapon drops for defeating enemies, more or less useful random perks and the ability to infuse (‘synthesize’) equipment for greater power and utility.
10. As it appeared in the Playstation Plus monthly games list for October, I paid nothing more than my regular subscription fee for the digital version of this game. You just don’t get better value than that when recreating childhood obsessions!