I’m sitting here looking at my computer screen after finishing… Yes, I said FINISHING, Transformers Devastation and I have no idea what to write. I conflict between the Transformers loving fanboy that I am who has bought the 1986 animated movie 4 times, the series 2 times, and even owns 2 sets of Headmasters, Masterforce, Victory, plus a set of Beast Wars and Beast Machines; and the honest reviewer of video games I’ve aspired to be. On one hand I’m loving this game to death, but on the other hand, I’m disappointed and felt like I just wasted money.
Game Name: Transformers Devastation
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 & Xbox One
Developer(s): Platinum Games
Release Date: September 5th, 2015
Let’s start with the positives and let the fanboy go first. Transformers Devastation looks AMAZING! The cell shading in this game makes the whole thing look like the characters from the cartoon have made it into the 3D world while still retaining their looks from the cartoon… If that makes sense. If you were a reader of the Dreamwave comic series a few years back, then this style will look very familiar to you; everything is simple, yet features a high detail value that it’s amazing to not get lost and just think this was a new cartoon. Bonus points for the introduction screens for the characters looking like the old toy tech specs.
Another aspect that helps you get lost in Transformers Devastation is the story. The whole thing plays out like an episode of the old cartoon, complete with the logo transitions (though the sound was changed for some reason) and an overall story arc. Hell, Transformers Devastation plays out like a really good two to three part saga in the vein of Ultimate Doom, Megatron’s Master Plan, and so on.
Transformers Devastation takes place during season 2 of the cartoon; Megatron has found the Proudstar, a Cybertronian spaceship that has the ability to cyberform planets such as Earth as well as control the Insecticons. Optimus Prime, along with Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Sideswipe & Grimlock, task themselves with stopping Megatron’s plan and save the planet. While this doesn’t sound like much, I’ve left out details on purpose that are revealed as the game goes along.
The gameplay works really well. Transformers games are by and large a combination of driving and fighting and Platinum Games mixes the two really well. The base of the fighting mechanic is taken from their biggest hit: Bayonetta. You have heavy and light attacks that, when chained correctly, will allow you to get a free hit in your vehicle form. You can also shoot at enemies from a distance with your guns too, an auto aim helps pinpoint enemies you might not notice as well as flying enemies that’ll otherwise annoy the crap out of you.
Speaking of the guns, you gain new weapons through finding random drops in the game, and all of them look exactly like something from the Generation 1 toy lines with exceptions of later lore weapons like The Starsaber which looks more something from the Transformers Prime series, but otherwise everything is classic in design. You can take these weapons and merge them into others to strengthen them. I recommend powering up the special boss drops as they can get overpowered really quickly.
Another thing you can do is augment your character through T.E.C.H. These upgrades are crafted at random by Wheeljack by wagering currency in a timing mini-game. If you hit the right spot, then you’ll get some amazing upgrades like increase health by 200%, extend the games “reaction time”, give more boosts to jumping and things like that. Fail and you might get a 1% boost to your vehicle mode or something useless like that. Considering your character levels up pretty fast in this game and your weapons add to those stats, these augments are pretty much useless.
The sound in Transformers Devastation is 99.9% accurate. I can just sit there pressing the transformation button over and over just to hear those two sound clips all day long. The voice cast here is exceptional, but that’s what you get when you try to get the original voice cast to voice their characters once again. I think the only excuse for someone not voicing their character is because they have passed on, but the people they got to cover those voices are so close to the original voice actors that you can hardly tell the difference. The music is pretty much spot on too, but to be honest I didn’t take much notice of the background music while bashing bots face in.
Now we come to the complaints.
Let’s start with the controls. While Transformers Devastation is pretty simple with the mechanics, there’s no lock on button. If you’re going to have a game where you are taking on a big bunch of enemies at once, this is a must. I don’t know how many times I’ve wasted time spinning the camera around trying to get a lock on opponents like Starscream as he flies about above my head. The next thing is the “reaction time” mechanic that was ripped right out of Bayonetta. If you are able to dodge at the right moment then you activate a slow-motion moment that gives you time to smash tailgate without having to worry about getting smacked yourself. The problem with this is that the time between the game telling you to get ready and the moment needed to activate this mechanic is so brief that you will often miss it and get hammered. This could possibly be the PS4 controller lag, but I’m not too sure. The driving in this game is garbage! Sharp turns in a panic will have you falling off platforms or losing moments when you really shouldn’t. Again the camera is not your friend here.
The other thing that really annoys me is Transformers Devastation’s story. On one hand, it’s great, perhaps too great. There are things in the story that they touch on, and makes you feel like there will be a lot more to take on after the main threat is taken care of, but no. Transformers Devastation builds a sudden gauntlet, the big showdown, then it’s done… Only to tease you with more to come… If this game is good enough to get a sequel. You remember how some movies will end with a cliffhanger just so a sequel will get the green light? Well, that’s what you get here. If there is one thing we know all too well it’s that cliffhangers do not guarantee sequels.
This whole thing is capped off by the game’s length. My playthrough of the game clocked in at around 4 hours according to the timer Windows shows me when I highlight all the files, which includes me messing around in the Gallery area for about 5 minutes. Transformers Devastation had enough story in it to easily double the length of it and make it worth the $50 you’ll be dropping on it, but it doesn’t go for it so they can attempt a sequel, or they didn’t have a huge budget or something. There’s some reason this game is so god damn sort and I’m pissed off because of it.
This is where I’m torn between myself with Transformers Devastation, it’s a great game, but it’s too short. Platinum Games captured the spirit of the cartoon extremely well. The characters are an amazing trip down nostalgia road that I’m happy to take as my little fanboy heart sings with every blast from Prime’s Ion Cannon. However, the letdown of the story being cut short along with the game has me angry and feeling like I’ve wasted my money. If this game was a $20 budget title then I’d have nothing but praise for it, but this is close to full price and for that money, we deserve Transformers Devastation to be the best that it can be.
*Copy of game provided by publisher
Transformers Devastation is by far the best Transformers game we have gotten in a long time, better than the Cybertron series by High Moon, a million times better than Rise of the Dark Spark, and so far beyond Generation 1 games like Convoy No Nazo & Tataki that it’s not even funny; but this is so close to being the PERFECT Transformers game that it is soul crushing that they didn’t reach that tiny bit further to obtain it. Avoid this game till it hit the bargain bins… Man it hurt to say that.