Developer: Platinum Games
Platform: PC [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Transformers has had a surge in popularity and hatred in equal parts since Michael Bay turned out his first live-action Transformers movie, with his movies being some of the only experiences many have with Transformers. Thankfully, that was in no way the inspiration for the latest Transformers game from Platinum Games.
Starting Transformers: Devastation, I felt as if I was thrust back into the 80s cartoon in the best way possible. As the game begins you find yourself pushed into a poor, unsuspecting city as robotic trouble starts brewing. Strange mechanical tentacles are invading the city, and both the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, led by Megatron, are eager to figure out exactly what is going on, each side for their own reasons.
Eventually you find that Insecticons have invaded the Earth, and that everything started going wrong because the Cybertonian ship, the Proudstar, had crashed into the planet. To make matters worse, it contains a source of Plasma Energy, an extremely potent power source, and Megatron is intent on taking hold of it to Cyberform the Earth within a matter of days.
Thus, your goal becomes stopping Megatron and his group of Decepticons so that the Earth may be saved. It isn’t a complicated plot, and it really doesn’t need to be. If you aren’t familiar with Transformers, I’m sure most of what I said above may as well be gibberish, but you don’t need to be a Transformers expert to enjoy Devastation.
The plot plays out like an arc out of the old 80s cartoon, with the proud, righteous Autobots fighting against the troublesome Decepticons. There isn’t a huge buildup; you start the game, discover that trouble is brewing, and hop right into the action. The game even delivers some corny puns to tie it all together.
Now, normally I don’t comment much on visual presentation unless a game looks exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. In this case, I think Transformers: Devastation deserves a special mention. It uses a cel shaded art style that looks amazing, and fits right in with the feel of the game. I actually had to turn down my graphical quality to low to get a smooth framerate, since my laptop isn’t the strongest thing around, and the game still looked amazing.
To top off the general presentation, voice acting is perfect, and the music is just right. From a presentation standpoint, Transformers: Devastation succeeds in every conceivable way. It looks and feels like a Transformers game should, and that’s a major thing I was hoping for when I saw the first trailer for this title. Driving around the city feels great as you complete mission objectives.
I suppose I should stop gushing about the presentation and move onto the all important gameplay. No matter what this game got right in look and feel, it wouldn’t have mattered if the gameplay was sloppy or lacking. Thankfully, both halves of the experience support each other well.
Transformers: Devastation is a brawler. You play as an Autobot, and you punch, swing blades, and shoot guns at Decepticons and Insecticons alike. You will note that I said you play as “an Autobot” above, as there isn’t just one playable character. You can play as the iconic Optimus Prime, or as Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, or Grimlock. You are not bound by your choice, and can change your character largely at your leisure throughout the storyline.
Combat is done via a mix of light attacks, heavy attacks, shooting, transforming, and the all-important dodge. It’s largely skill based combat that depends on you paying attention to what your opponents are about to do so that you can dodge at the right time. A proper dodge right before an attack yields a slowed time effect, allowing you to get a few hits in before time goes back to normal.
Transitioning from physical combat to shooting is done with the push of a button, and both aspects of combat feel good. Transforming is mostly used for getting around, but you can also end combos with a transformation vehicle attack for extra damage, or use your vehicle mode to pick up speed for a charged strike. You can also shoot guns from your vehicle for some fast ballistic action.
A nice part about the combat is that you aren’t heavily restricted in what weapons each Autobot has. You can change out your guns and physical weapons for different kinds you pick up during missions. My first playthrough, I used Optimus Prime the entire time, wielding a hammer as my main physical weapon, and a sniper rifle as my main gun. It was an incredibly fun combination for me, but another may find it slow.
With that in mind, I tried another playthrough mainly using Grimlock, and tried primarily using a faster pair of swords with my main gun being a gatling gun. Although it meant more hits for victory, it was also a fun change of pace. It’s great having that freedom.
Weapons can also be leveled up to a certain degree depending on letter grade by combining weapons together. Doing this can allow the base weapon to inherent the special ability or abilities of the absorbed weapon. Admittedly, I never saw a huge difference doing this, and mostly participated in the system to keep myself under the 200 weapon inventory cap. The benefit of this aspect was not well explained, nor is it immediately apparent. Realistically, you can get away without leveling up weaponry from the start to the end of Transformers: Devastation.
On top of weapons, you can also make something called Tech. Once Wheeljack is on the team, you can form Tech at two pricepoints, and the quality of it, which determines the level of the stat bonuses, is completely decided by your ability to properly stop a meter at the right point. Tech isn’t a game changing aspect though, and even if you fail, you still get usable Tech.
The Bottom Line
With all of that said, Transformers: Devastation is simply fun. Combat feels fluid, whether you’re fighting some smaller Insecticons, or the giant Devastator. Fights feel strategic, and it was always a fantastic feeling when I would be one hit away from death, yet still able to defeat a boss who still had 50% of their health. My gripes about this title are minor at worst. Even when considering the short five to seven hour play time, the replayability of the game between multiple difficulties, multiple characters, and the challenge mode more than makes up for it.
Transformers: Devastation may not be a perfect game, but it does almost everything it aims to do incredibly well. If you are a Transformers fan, this game should be high on your priority list. If you just like playing fun, well made games, this is still a game that you should prioritize picking up.