Review: Transformers Devastation (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): October 6, 2015
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: PlatinumGames
- Genres: Hack and Slash
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
- Also For: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Transformers! Robots In...Cel-shaded 3D Button Mashing Disguise?
Transformers Devastation is a cel-shaded hack and slash game developed by Platinum Games. Featuring 5 playable Autobots from the original Transformers cartoon, players face off against the Decepticons in what can only be described as a straight-to-VHS worthy plot. The basic gist of it is, the Decepticons want to turn Earth into a new Cybertron planet, and the Autobots are all like “no” and go off and beat up baddies. Bam. Story done. One of the more special features of Transformers Devastation is the return of some of the original voice actors from the cartoon. From Wikipedia, the returning voice actors include: Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee), Michael Bell (Sideswipe and Scrapper), Gregg Berger (Grimlock and Long Haul), and Frank Welker (Megatron and Soundwave). Fans of the original cartoon will definitely get a nostalgia boner from each story cutscene throughout Devastation, however I found most of the voice acting and dialog rather cringey and awkward. It felt just like an 80’s-90’s cartoon, which might help fuel the nostalgia factor for some, but these days is rather disappointing.
Devastation features only a couple different settings, one of them being a large unnamed human city that is explored throughout a few of the early chapters, and a couple of the later ones, while the rest are basically just “ship” levels that don’t really offer much variety when you get down to it. While playing as any of the Autobots, players have the ability to run around in the transformed robot mode, or they can seamlessly transform into their vehicle counterparts (or, in Grimlock’s case, a Dinobot). You can use ranged weapons while in your vehicular mode, as well as initiate a “charge” type attack to break shields, but for the most part the vehicle transformations are more for speed and getting around quickly. Unfortunately, there are no plane transformations, so you can’t even fly around the maps :( Devastation is also incredibly short for a game of it's current price ($49.99), I completed the game in approximately 7.5 hours, which includes all of the main story and a good half or more of the side quests. The game also features Challenge missions that are unlocked as you go, however they end up being more of the rather disappointing side missions throughout the main game.
As you explore the rather linear levels, you can find various secrets and log files that give more information about the Transformers “lore”, however I found most of these rather boring and in the way of my button mashing fun. You’ll also come across side missions that, when completed, grant new weapons to use as rewards. Devastation also offers a few different customization options for each robot, including the ability to “synthesize” weapons into newer, more powerful ones, using credits received by killing enemies to purchase recovery/passive items or movesets, and the ability to level up the stats of each bot.
But the real meat and potatoes of the game is the combat system. This time around, Platinum went for more simplified but satisfying combat mechanics. Melee combat utilizes fairly simple button mashing combos and single button combo finishers that start out easy at first, while later in the game players can purchase more combo moves with “credits” for each character (although, if I’m being perfectly honest I found most of the new moves fairly useless, and instead I spent most of my credit points on leveling my main character). You can also dodge and block enemy attacks, and when successfully dodging at the right time you’ll be able to enter a “bullet dodge” type mode where you can wail on enemies for a couple extra seconds. Each Autobot has their own separate special ability, from Optimus Prime’s AOE spin out to Wheeljack’s shield ability. You’ll also find an ultimate gauge, which when filled by attacking enemies lets players use an ultimate attack which ends up being only useful during boss fights.
Ranged combat, unfortunately, isn't nearly as fleshed out and is missing some key features. While there are multiple types of ranged weapons, from basic lasers and miniguns to grenade launchers and rockets, each ranged weapon is practically useless and difficult to aim thanks to the lack of a standard lock-on system. The best you can get, when playing with a controller, is simply spamming the aim down sights button while hoping the auto aim adjusts just enough to hit your target. While most of the enemies you face can be taken down with any melee attack, some boss fights and flying enemies will give you trouble without the ability to properly aim.
And speaking of boss battles...oh boy does Devastation punish you for even thinking about fighting a boss. Most of the overworld enemies are simple; you could mash light attack a few times and use a combo finisher and a majority of enemies will be gone in a few seconds. Bosses, on the other hand, require 12 holy hand grenades, 6 tanks, Cthulhu, and a favor from the devil just to get a dink in their health bar. I’m not sure if it was just being on the “Commander” difficulty, but each boss I encountered took me several tries to defeat. Devastation simply cranks the health and strength of bosses to “maximum F--- You” just for the heck of it, and gives some of the more prominent Decepticons unique movesets just to give you something new to look forward to. For most bosses, you’re dead after a couple hits, and some of them will even be able to stunlock you into a combo of their own if you don’t manage to block or dodge one of their attacks.
+ The majority of melee combat is fun and engaging, if a little repetitive.
+ The reprisal of original voice actors ends up being great for nostalgia purposes.
- Poor ranged combat.
- Boss fights are pretty much unfair at the best of times.
- Devastation is very short for the price of the game.
The game presents itself very well. The cel-shaded style graphics gives it that cartoony feel of the original Transformers series before it got miffed up by Michael Bay, and a majority of the audio follows along the same route with the generic rock music in the background of each level. Even the terrible voice acting feels "at home" with the game, even if it sounds bad by today's standards.
Transformers Devastation offers virtually nothing new to the gameplay table. It's a standard hack and slash game that was simply tacked on to an old cartoon series. That said, it's still an enjoyable game to play, regardless if it plays like every other hack and slash out there.
I'm not entirely sure how much lasting appeal the game has beyond some of the challenge missions. The main game itself is rather linear and same-y, the most you could change up revolves around trying different characters and maybe collecting all the secrets and logs, but even then you'll still be stuck with the same boring story mode.
out of 10
(not an average)
Overall, the game is great for fans of the early Transformers series...but is only great for them. I don't fall in this demographic, so I found the game to be mostly lackluster and boring. It felt like a chore playing a game about kickass robots simply because I hardly recognized most of the references they tried to make.