Whoever at Activision thought of employing PlatinumGames to make a Transformers game should get a pay rise; not only is it a fun game with a strong arcade like challenge but for the first time gamers are getting a title that brings back good memories of the early years of the thirty year old franchise.
The city is under attack by the Decepticons with huge robot claws tearing up buildings and suspicious looking rockets engines being set up around locations. A small team of Autobots lead by Optimus Prime have arrived in a bid to stop Megatron’s evil scheme but like all the good advertising says, there’s “more than meets the eye”.
The game takes on the form of an arcade style beat em up with players traveling from section to section taking on groups of generic Deceptions interspersed with boss fights with the more recognisable characters. The game doesn’t shy away from the big guys with some early tussles with Megatron and Devastator to give you a taste of what’s to come.
Collectibles are littered around the maps, some requiring some simple puzzles or navigation to find. Some of these can be used to build out abilities and weapons which can be useful when facing tougher foes further into the game.
Though the controls are quite accessible with attacks mapped to the face buttons and specials to the bumpers, there are occasional frustrations with the camera which are more noticeable in the action heavy vehicle segments when a behind the car fixed camera would be preferable to a manually controlled one. Even one that snaps back to the rear view would go a long way to making movement a little easier.
Admittedly the vehicle aspects aren’t really the focus of the game as they are mainly used in special attacks and the occasional chase mission or navigating to hidden areas on the map but when you have characters that turn into cars it seems like there’s some wasted potential here.
It doesn’t take long to discover that the game doesn’t stray from a singular gameplay formula and it’s certainly no Bayonetta but you get a fun game that can be challenging on the harder settings. Though it’s selling at a cheaper price to bigger disc titles that doesn’t at all show thanks to the game’s brilliant presentation.
You’re not going to find any arguments about the amazing visuals; the game takes most of its cues from the classic “Generation 1” series famous for Saturday morning cartoons in the 80’s but also from Transformers: The Movie which added that extra level of metallic sheen to everything. It’s staggering just how great this looks compared to the source material – even when screenshots circulated at the time of the game’s announcement, it seemed too good to be true but it’s here and delivers.
Those with long memories will notice a few differences though; some aspects of the newer Transformers lines have been pulled in which result in Bumblebee’s vehicle form being a sports car and not a Volkswagen Beetle (probably saves on emissions testing) and Megatron taking the form of a tank instead of the originally controversial Walther P38 handgun. I don’t think it is too big a deal but anyone wanting a game 100% loyal to Gen 1 should be aware of it.
Thanks to using the original cartoon voice actors, the audio builds on the visuals and launches the game into the stratosphere. Having Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime once again facing off against Frank Welker’s Megatron is a treat for the ears and makes it not only one of the coolest Transformers games but the best game ever made of the 80’s cartoon.
I’m hoping this is not the last we see of PlatinumGames working with this license; if there is a chance to see them build on this and take it beyond its arcade style roots we could see something really special. And with rumours that they are working on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title this might just be an indicator of what we can expect more of in the future. The thought of a modern take on the arcade TMNT beat em ups with Platinum’s design chops is once again too good to be true and I really hope we’ll soon see them deliver again.
Reviewed on Xbox One but also available on PC, 360, PS3 and PS4.