Transformers: Devastation review



There is only one attack that's able to puncture Megatron's shield, which throbs rather un-menacingly in fetching pink. First Bumblebee must transform into a car (not the testosterone-ripped Chevrolet Camaro of Michael Bay's brash trio of scrapyard-assault films, but rather a cutesy Choro-Q-esque love bug). Then, by driving in tight circles, you must find top speed. Once the necessary momentum has been gained, aim at Megatron and, milliseconds before you crash into his shield, transform back into your mecha form, animating into a farcical uppercut as you do so. The shield shatters into pink shards and Megatron is knocked into the air.

A light flashes in Bumblebee's eye, signalling a new opportunity: strike the transform button in time and, in a single, balletic move, he'll curl back into the shape of the car, rev on the spot (causing sparks to fly improbably from his rear wheels) before launching at Megatron for the follow-up strike, and another, and another. There's more. Back into robot form and, while still airborne, the combo can be continued with a flurry of punches. As the pair thud back to the ground Megatron's eye glints red, signalling the counter attack. Hit the evade button at the right moment and Bumblebee will pull out of his punch, and slide elegantly through Megatron's legs. Time slows. The air turns a moody shade of blue and, in this precise moment, know that you are experiencing a hyperrealistic recreation of how it feels to be a Transformer in every eight-year-old's imagination.

The pitch is simple and strong: Transformers Devastation is a revisiting of the 1980s Transformers cartoons, as seen through the eyes of Platinum Games, a Japanese studio which, since the quiet decline of Treasure, has become the best action game developer in the world. While this is clearly a game made on a semi-tight budget (the game takes place in just two primary locations, while the enemies you meet come from a small, repetitive selection; the brisk story mode is designed for multiple replays as a way to stretch out the game's substance) it feels luxurious and well crafted in these hands. No doubt some lines of code have been lifted from Platinum's more lavish titles - Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising, Vanquish - as the combat in Transformers Devastation is as refined as in any of its back catalogue. Dodge an incoming attack at the last second and you'll initiate 'Focus', where time is slowed in exactly the same manner as Bayonetta's Witch Time. After the disappointment that was last year's The Legend of Korra, another cut-price downloadable title from the studio's pairing with Activision, this is a laudable land grab for the mid-tier console game territory, an area that has been almost squeezed out of existence in recent years by the lavish blockbusters on one side, and the legion of plucky independent on the other.

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