Transformers: Devastation Review

By Lexley Ford, 1 year ago
As a child of the '80s, the continuity of the original Transformers TV series will always spring to mind when anyone mentions the “Robots in disguise”. Despite the numerous series that followed and the more recent Michael Bay films, Generation 1 Transformers may still the most iconic variants of the well known Cybertronian visitors. PlatinumGames' new third-person action-brawler, Transformers: Devastation, is inspired by the classic designs, but is the game just nostalgic fan-service aimed at those wishing to relive their youths, or does a solid action title lie underneath?

Optimus Prime taking on Devastator, one of the game's largest enemies.Optimus Prime taking on Devastator, one of the game's largest enemies.

Devastation pits Autobots – Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and Grimlock, against their long time enemies the Decepticons in order to stop the Earth from being made into a new Cybertron by a process called “Cyberforming”. The story isn't ground-breaking but it does feel like it could have been pulled straight from a classic episode. The cel-shaded visuals are a perfect fit for the classic look of the ‘80s TV show and thanks to the classic voice cast reprising their roles, Bumblebee's bad puns and Megatron almost constantly berating Starscream, it actually sounds like it too.

PlatinumGames has gained a reputation for developing games with fast-paced, flowing combat that manages to deliver gameplay that is both challenging yet highly satisfying, and that is exactly the formula that Devastation adheres to. It's clear to see that Devastation takes many of its combat mechanics from PlatinumGames' previous work, Bayonetta, and anyone that has spent time with the titular witch will get to grips with Devastation's combat fairly quickly.

Megatron is up to his old tricks again.Megatron is up to his old tricks again.

Combat is highly responsive and mainly revolves around stringing together melee combos comprised of light and heavy attacks that can be finished off with a vehicle transformation move. Enemy variations also encourage players to switch up their tactics, vehicular rush attacks are need to break through enemy shields, and a variety of ranged attacks to can be used to deal with flying enemies. Like Bayonetta's Witch Time, dodging an attack just before it lands will trigger Focus mode, which slows the world around you and grants a brief period of immunity, allowing you to unleash a barrage of attacks. Finally, there’s an unlockable parry mechanic that can be used just before an attack lands, briefly staggering the attacking enemy, opening them up for a strike.

Each of the playable Autobots has their own unique style and combo variations, but none of them are so different that they require learning entirely new mechanics. For instance, Grimlock has high attack and defense stats but is limited in the number of weapons he can use, while Bumblebee doesn't pack as much of a punch but his combos are much quicker and he stays in his Focus state longer than any of the other characters. I found Sideswipe to be the most comfortable character to use thanks to his balance of speed and attack power, as well as his ability to quickly close the distance to enemies, but each character is easy to get to grips with and fun to use.

The Constructicons merged form, Devastator.The Constructicons merged form, Devastator.

Defeated enemies drop a variety of different pick-ups, some are consumed as soon as they are collected such as green health-restoring pick-ups and blue Ammo drops. Other items, like Repair kits and temporary stat boosters can be used from the item menu to help give you an edge during combat. The most important drops are of course new weapons and credits. Credits are used for every facet of character development at your home base of The Ark. Weapons can be synthesized by sacrificing one weapon in order to make another one stronger. By doing this weapons can level up and even inherit perks from the sacrificed items. Completing missions often grants numerous new weapons, and on top of the ones dropped by enemies, players may end up with hundreds of item in no time. Synthesizing all of these items is a simple enough process and improving your gear is a sure fire way to increase your survivability, but it can often be a very time consuming distraction, especially when there are Decepticons to defeat.

Credits can also be spent to develop T.E.C.H. which gives characters special perks and bonuses, such as extra health, bonus Experience or credits, or a longer lasting Focus mode. Beginning development triggers a mini-game that determines the quality of the T.E.C.H. received; successfully landing the slider on the yellow zones will result in a better outcome, while hitting the dark-blue areas will result in lower quality equipment. Despite the bonuses granted, T.E.C.H. development often seemed less beneficial than that of item synthesizing and once a worthwhile piece of equipment is developed, gambling credits on the chance of getting something better seems almost pointless.

Flying enemies aren't always easy to hit with melee attacks.Flying enemies aren't always easy to hit with melee attacks.

Devastation's greatest shortcoming is its lack of content, an initial play through the story mode will likely only take around six hours on Warrior difficulty, with subsequent attempts, even on higher difficulties, taking significantly less time. With improved stats, weapons and T.E.C.H., higher difficulties become much more manageable, but by doing so the story mode begins to lose its sense of challenge and becomes highly repetitive, especially when aiming for higher performance ratings. A series of combat challenge stages can be unlocked during the campaign, but they are mostly arena style battles that don't differ too much from the combat in the main story mode and don't add much variety to the overall package.

Devastation may not have much variety in its gameplay, but the achievement list does ask quite a lot of the player. There are achievements for synthesizing a number of items, activating Focus 100 times and countering enemies with both melee and ranged attacks 100 times each. In order to unlock the full 1,000G on offer, you will need to play through the story mode a minimum of five times, once with each playable Autobot. A large portion of the more difficult achievements require certain conditions to be met while playing on Commander difficulty or above, while Platinum tasks player with earning SS ranks on all missions, again on Commander difficulty or above and, at time of writing, stands at a TA ratio of 13.02.

Summary

As with many of Platinum's other game's, Transformers: Devastation can be a challenging experience, even on its lower difficulties, but once you become used to the enemies attack patterns and when to dodge incoming attacks, each fight becomes a rewarding flurry of colour and crunching metal. The cel-shaded graphics and classic voice acting cast make the title great for those looking for some nostalgia. Unfortunately, the short story and the sense of repetition hold the title back from being what it truly could have been.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Challenging gameplay with rewarding combat
  • Cel-shaded visuals look like they're right out of the '80s
  • Original voice cast adds to the nostalgia
Negatives
  • Very short story mode
  • Replaying the game can become repetitive
  • Weapon synthesizing can be very time consuming
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 15 hours in the company of the Autobots, rolling out, and laying waste to the Decipti-scum. During this time he unlocked 10 of the 30 available achievements for 240 Gamerscore. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review.
Lexley Ford
Written by Lexley Ford
Lex has been gaming for nearly three decades and has been a Newshound for TrueAchievements since 2011. When he’s not writing news he can normally be found immersing himself in a good story, both written and in-game, or just blowing stuff up (only in games).