Instruments of destruction.
I had about a million taglines I wanted to use for this review; needless to say I am a fan of Transformers, specifically the Generation One series. So when I heard Activision was doing yet another game, this time developed by Platinum and using that particular style, I might have been a little excited. Transformers: Devastation is equal parts nostalgia and Bayonetta, with a visual style that captures my 80’s childhood perfectly.
Devastation plays out like a really long episode of the original show. Megatron is hatching a devious scheme to ruin Earth, and the Autobots are out to stop him. What sells the story is the look, and of course the sounds. The voice work is done by most of the original voice actors from the show, and those that aren’t are almost spot on. Then, of course, are the visuals. While it isn’t a technical marvel, what Platinum has done to make it look like the show is outstanding. Characters pop off the screen with vibrant colors. I just wish the environments were a little more interesting.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC, PS3, 360
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
The game follows five Autobots: Optimus Prime, Wheeljack, Sideswipe, Bumblebee, and Grimlock. After the first couple chapters any of the five can be selected at checkpoints, and each one feels unique. Sadly there is no option to play as any of the Decepticons, but there are certainly plenty of them to encounter in the campaign.
The soundtrack disappoints mostly due to a lack of the original tunes. Not even the classic (or any incarnation of) is included. Where is Stan Bush when you need him?
This is bad comedy.
As for the game play, this is a Platinum game to the core. Imagine Bayonetta but with big hulking robots as opposed to sexy witches and you get the idea. Characters have two attacks and a dodge, that when performed at the right time, activates a slowdown of the action, not unlike Witch Time. Combos can be finished off with a powerful vehicle move when a set number of attacks are landed, and of course vehicle-specific moves when in that form. Every character also has a special move that can be used by tapping the left bumper, or a super special move activated by clicking in on both thumb sticks.
There is a lot to the combat, new moves can be purchased at the Ark (the game’s hub), and everything feels as tight as one would expect for a Platinum game. This is no Korra disappointment, this is true Platinum excellence. Hitting robots feels great, the combat is sublime, and like any other title in their repertoire, practice makes perfect.
The campaign is brief, but never outstays its welcome. It clocks in at around five or six hours, but that is really just a piece of the game. There is a challenge mode and of course a plethora of difficulties. Platinum games are designed for multiple play throughs, and Devastation is no different.
There is even a loot system in the game. Weapons are collected throughout the levels and can be equipped at the Ark, or even fused into new weapons. There are also perks that can be created by Wheeljack through an arbitrary mini-game. Characters also level up over time, but there are no skill trees or points. They simply upgrade based on the moves performed – think of it kind of like Skyrim in a sense.
There is a lot here, but it all boils down to the combat. Encounters are fun with normal enemies, but some of it falls apart during boss battles. These are frustrating at times because instead of making them more challenging, the developers instead just beefed up their health. These battles drag on beyond the point of fun. Still I couldn’t help but squee with glee when a new enemy cropped up, complete with a title bar basically yanking on my nostalgia strings.
Transformers: Devastation is a fantastic trip down memory lane for fans of the Generation One cartoon. As a video game, the combat is extremely satisfying, if not a tad repetitious. This game feels incomplete in some areas, like there should simply be more of it. That makes it hard to recommend to anyone not completely gaga over the cartoon. However, for anyone who grew up with Prime and Megatron constantly butting heads, this is a must-have title. I just hope Platinum gets the time to do a proper sequel, and really flesh out the incredible template they have created.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.