Review: Transformers: Devastation – Transformers Done Partially Right
Platinum Games is well-known for the Bayonetta series and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which goes hand-in-hand with their specialty in fast-paced hack-and-slash gameplay. Well, they used the same formula with Transformers: Devastation, and I have to say it works.
The moment you launch the game, the vibrant colors, the soundtrack, and the logos are enough to take you on that nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Devastation doesn’t offer multiple modes to choose from, since there is only the single-player mode. The challenge mode doesn’t offer anything different than the main campaign; it simply challenges you to beat each chapter with tougher foes.
While the Transformers franchise has seen its fair share of video games — since 1986 on the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore 64 platforms — Transformers: Devastation may be considered as one of the best, even with its multiple failures.
Platinum Games decided to stick to the original Generation 1 Transformers, to increase the nostalgia dosage and stay true to the series. The game’s plot is pretty basic, the evil Decepticons want to turn Earth into Cybertron 2 using a powerful Plasma energy, while on the other side the heroic Autobots consider our planet as their new home.
After a couple of hours into the game, you can clearly see the plot is over-simplified, stretched and shallow. Another flaw in the story is the amount of unexpected and unnecessary battles with semi-boss level foes.
The cutscenes are pretty well executed on the other hand, and the fact that Platinum Games used a lot of voice actors from the original Generation 1 Transformers is a huge bonus.
In addition to that, the game squeezes in a number of missions with alternating camera angles and chase sequences.
There is a particular mission where the camera switches into a top-down position and in another one, it becomes more like a 3D side-scrolling platformer. These dressings weren’t necessary at all, and took a lot of the fun out of the missions.
On the another hand, the chase sequences themselves were a delight, although Devastation’s small map became annoying after the vehicle picked up in speed, which resulted in me crashing in a lot of walls and obstacles and making things a bit chaotic.
All of that is in the game’s six-hour long campaign, which is rather short and makes it look like Platinum Games wanted to jam in all the mission ideas they had into a very brief package.
Although Devastation’s story isn’t very attractive as mentioned before, the gameplay is extremely addictive. Once you start playing, you can sense the presence of Bayonetta’s soul in the game. The combat is based upon light and strong attacks, with a vehicle attack prompt at the end of a combo.
Because of the frenetic pacing of sorties, some players may think that button-mashing is enough to beat this title but they would be completely wrong. The game requires you to time your attacks and dodges perfectly, since your character doesn’t have a huge health bar and enemies are relentless.
There are five playable characters available to go to town with: Optimus Prime, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, Bumblebee, and Grimlock. Each character is unique in its attacks, character traits, and stat specializations.
However, you are free to change their loadouts as you wish. There are four weapon slots, one dedicated to ranged weapons, another to melee weapons and two free slots.
This level of loadout customization encourages you to try out every weapon you loot. Also, weapon synthesizing is important, since it basically allows you to level up your weapons, which increases their damage stats.
You pick your base weapon, then choose another one to use in order to level that weapon up. Although it can sometimes be boring to use, since you can’t choose several weapons at once, this design choice limiting your variety.
Another thing I found really confusing is the weapons’ names, since they are all really similar. They also look very close to each other, with minor differences. What I found enjoyable and unique, though, were the swords even though you can’t equip one to every Autobots, since each hero has a blade exclusive to them.
This brings me to each character’s uniqueness. I mentioned the five playable earlier and I am must say that the dev team transferred their personalities into their fighting styles perfectly.
I gave each Autobot a try, and every one of them has his own pros and cons. For example, if you play with Bumblebee, you can feel the quickness and agility of his attacks but he lacks power in his strikes. My favorite was Sideswipe, as I kept leveling up his dual swords and equipping better ones whenever I found any.
One of Devastation’s shortcomings are random bugs and glitches that can occur during a playthrough. The first glitch I encountered was at an early point when I was about to fight Megatron; Optimus Prime stood beside me as an ally, so I naturally expected him to aid me.
Well, he didn’t. He just stood there crossing his arms and watching me and Megatron go at it. Obviousily I died, and had to fight him again. This go around I found out that Optimus was actually supposed to help me instead of just standing there.
The second occasion was during a fight, and I jumped in the air to attack a jet before it fired at me, but my character never make it back to the ground. I literally got stuck in the air without being able to attack, move or take damage so I was forced to restart from my last checkpoint. Sadly, those two bugs were in the same play session.
Transformers: Devastation offers exciting and addictive gameplay, with cheerful colors and an amazing soundtrack. However, the plot is shallow and short-lived and doesn’t pull you to its end, since you already know what will happen in the traditional good Autobots vs. evil Decepticons conflict.
While it’s easy to recommend this title to any die-hard Transformers fan, to more casual players it would be a harder sell.
I’d warn you to approach with caution — even though you’ll experience a fun and nostalgic game with enjoyable combat, don’t expect to avoid a few hiccups along the way.