I must admit I had no idea this game was in development, so when I heard this was being released, I was excited with high hopes but I also had my doubts. However when the title appeared with a rock guitar version of the original soundtrack playing, the hairs on my neck pricked up and those doubts fizzled away!
For too long the design and look of the Transformers characters have been changed by different studios, however PlatinumGames have got this spot on. Being a huge fan of the original series and Transformers: The Movie (no, not the new ones) I was thrilled to see the 80s designs brought into this decade with a polished yet cartoon edge to it. The game begins with a cutscene of nothing less, than awesome beauty with vibrant colours and instantly recognisable Autobots and Decepticons. I knew I was going to enjoy this!
The beginning of the Story mode is an introduction to the game and controls, and after selecting one of three initial difficulty settings you get right into it. At each moment when you need to learn something new, a small windows video pops up depicting exactly how to accomplish the task or move which I thought was a really nice touch. There are a few missions where you swap between 3 characters before you’re able to choose the Autobot of your choice and continue the game. You can head back to the Ark now and again to change characters, or even change your load out. During the game you will pick up different melee and ranged weapons which can be sold or synthesised together to create more powerful weapons.
Each Autobot starts off with a basic arsenal of weapons such as blasters and swords. Optimus Prime has his iconic energon axe however you can replace it with other weapons like dual fire swords or cryo gauntlets. With ranged weapons spanning grenade launchers and miniguns you won’t be wanting for choice!
The audio is really good, however the default setting in the options menu is stereo. Change this to surround will give a little extra depth. The voices are also a little quiet when there’s action going on, so reducing the volume of sounds effects and general helped to hear them.
There are 7 chapters, each one has many missions so this is far from a short game. During the Story mode you will unlock Challenge mode which is selected from the main screen. Each one of these are slightly different but all are filled with mayhem and action.
The actual storyline is quite simple, Megatron is plotting something bad, Optimus and his band of metal men are here to stop him. The cutscenes lend a lot to the game, not only is the age old friction between Megatron and Starscream still there, but the studio has managed to get the original voice actors in to read the scripts! Having names such as Peter Cullen and Frank Welker reprising their roles from 30 years ago is the perfect icing on the cake!
The combat system could not be better. It’s fast, frantic, button mashing and extremely satisfying! There is your typical heavy and light attack which you can mash for a massive combo which could be combined with a vehicle attack at the end. Each character has a special move, which could be an attack, or a quick dodge, but the best is the ultra attack! Click both the thumb sticks at the same time and you will unleash a hellish strike. My favourite is Optimus’ single strike which deals massive damage to any enemy in close range. Sometimes the action on the screen will frazzle your eyes yet this just adds to the awesomeness! Every connecting blow can be felt and when you’re slicing, dodging, parrying and making smart arse retorts to the Decepticons incompetence you feel as though nothing can slow you down!
PlatinumGames didn’t hold anything back for the first chapter. With the title in mind, I imagined the final boss would be Devastator, a deadly battle in which you would emerge victorious. This fight came much sooner than I anticipated and I did not feel ready for this!
Throughout the game you will find loot to make your chosen character more powerful (yes, you can fight as Grimlock) and you can also create TECH items. Back in the Ark, Wheeljack can create items with random properties by means of a mini game, hit A when the moving slider is in the right place and you’ll get excellent item, miss it and it will be poor. You can equip up to three of these at a time.
There are collectibles to be found throughout the game, these unlock artwork and tidbits of information to read from the main menu.
PlatinumGames have managed to bring the life and soul of the original series and placed them into a game with a fluid, satisfying combat system. The character models have been given a high polish but the original feel is still there. The main story is quite long, and the challenges will keep you going for a while too.