PlatinumGames latest title Transformers Devastation opens with a bang. Within the first fifteen minutes I found myself battling a towering Devastator in a frantic boss battle. Don’t expect this game to go easy on you because it won’t. If you find the game too difficult even at the easiest setting you’ll have to get the hang of the rhythm of the battle system. It’s as simple as that.
In terms of presentation it doesn’t get much better for fans of the series. It’d be easy to mistake gameplay for the cartoon as it looks that good. And to make sure the game really pulls at your nostalgia strings the voice work has been done by the cast from the original cartoon series. You rarely find licensed games crafted with this much authenticity and respect. The cel-shaded visuals the team chose to use suit the series well and really made it feel like I was playing a living cartoon. The transforming animations are amazing and sound great and I frequently found myself transforming for no reason other than to watch in giddy awe.
Unfortunately the impressive amount of love and detail seemed to stop at the characters because the further I progressed in the story the more the environments blended together. It’s as if someone just copied and pasted buildings of one another and if it wasn’t for the map I can guarantee I would’ve gotten lost. Another bland and forgettable aspect about Devastation is the story since there\’s really no substance to it and you\’ll likely find yourself uninvested. But hey, this is a game about being a badass transforming Autobot and crunching some Decepticon metal and thankfully this is where the talented folks at PlatinumGames deliver.
Trucking (haha) around the city only to be ambushed by enemies can be thrilling, but it can also be frustrating at first if you\’re not used to the combat style of a Platinum game. Most of the enemies you come across are as generic as can be, but they will destroy you in large groups if you become lazy in battle. Don’t expect to easily beat the bosses or even to defeat them on the first try seeing that these encounters take patience, precision, and skill. So bring your a-game. Even though the battles are frenzied and unforgiving they never come off as punishing or unfair if you keep a few things in mind. The key to survival will rest on your ability to execute blocks and parries as they briefly slow down time which then grants you the opportunity to land combos and hopefully a devastating finishing blow. Next is that stringing combos is essential, and fun. Starting out with a barrage of weaker melee hits, followed by heavier attacks, only to finish by transforming and executing a vehicle based assault never got old and felt rewarding every time. My last tip is to hoard your ammo because you won’t find a lot laying around. Each Autobot has the ability to carry medium and long range weapons like sniper rifles, RPG’s, and assault rifles but use them sparingly. I usually saved mine to pick off annoying flying Insectobots hovering out of my reach. In total there are five Autobots you can play as, each with their own weaknesses, strengths, and abilities. For example Bumblebee is agile with quick melee attacks while Optimus Prime is lumbering but deals significantly more damage. I found each Autobot to be as good in battle as the next but some fit certain play types better than others, so it’s best to try each one out until you find the right match for you.
While the combat, soundtrack, visuals, and overall gameplay were fun and entertaining the low point for me (other than the environments) was the weapon upgrade system. For a game who’s sole focus is on brawling the RPG-esque leveling system, loot, and stat based weaponry seemed like an odd addition and something that was shoehorned in an attempt to add more depth. This doesn’t mean I don’t welcome such things, Boarderlands is a fine example of integrating these systems in a game that’s primarily about shooting shit, but I found it more cumbersome that it was worth in Devastation. Another potential nitpick some may have will be with the campaign length—it clocks in at around six hours. Now to be fair the game released at $50 and there may be replayability for some, but once I finished I didn’t feel the need to dive back in. At least not right away.
So should you pick up Transformers Devastation for yourself or as a gift for a loved one this holiday? With large AAA releases on the horizon like Fallout 4, Halo 5, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and Rise of the Tomb Raider I’m not so sure. If the recipient is a big Transformers fan I say go for it but if they want any of the games previously mentioned I’d probably spring for those instead. Hell, you may be able to pick up two or three titles including Devastation during Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Autobots, out!