Transformers Devastation

Transform and roll out

Transform and roll out

Since the origins of the fantastic G1 series in the mid-1980s, it’s largely been one bad to mediocre Transformers game after another. Fans of the series have continually been disappointed by suboptimal offerings; though the last generation had a few noteworthy titles in War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, just about every other game in the franchise has been lackluster at best. Thankfully, Transformers: Devastation is truly more than meets the eye, and surpasses expectation at almost every level.

Gigantic sentient robots with cars for arms. Need we say more?

Gigantic sentient robots with cars for arms. Need we say more?

Even if Devastation wasn’t more than meets the eye, you would visually be in for a treat. Most noticeable about the game from the start is the aesthetic. The original G1 series of Transformers returns with a vengeance, as cell-shaded autobots and decepticons have just the tiniest bit of flair and modification to modernize them without losing the essence of their historical genius design. Backgrounds are bland and stale, but the characters are so well designed that they demand all of your attention and steal the show anyway. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect re-imagining of these classic robots in disguise.

Dodging is fast, fluid, and rewarding

Dodging is fast, fluid, and rewarding

Adding to the nostalgic joy of playing this game is the return of many original voice actors from the hit G1 cartoon voicing favorites like Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Bumblebee, among others. The coolness factor of hearing childhood heroes in action again cannot be overstated, and they give stellar performances throughout the game.

Developer Platinum games rolls out all the punches with this entry. Fans of Platinum are aware that they don’t just know action games, they dominate them. Devastation doesn’t quite match the intricate ballet of Bayonetta, but it comes darn close, and the universe and characters propel this game above and beyond what has come before in the franchise. Combos are fairly simple, involving a fairly limited number of button combinations, but chaining attacks together is immensely satisfying. Devastation also features a similar mechanic to Bayonetta’s “witch time” where dodging at the last second slows down time and allows for extra attacks. It’s a brilliant system that works beautifully.

Transforming from a car into a robot for a running uppercut? Yes please.

Transforming from a car into a robot for a running uppercut? Yes please.

Combos are inconceivably silky smooth considering you’re fighting with gigantic sentient robots, and every hit lands with impressive feel. The transforming mechanic, again for the first time in a Transformers game, is finally implemented perfectly. Platinum did well by the series by really emphasizing that wonderful transformation sound when your character goes from robot to vehicle, and simply transforming back and forth between modes during combat never gets old. Speeding along the ground only to pop up into robot mode for a few strikes and seemlessly transforming back into vehicle mode exhilarates the senses. More than anything, it’s just plain fun.

Flashy combat

Flashy combat

Extending far past the sound effects, the edgy hard rock music captures the urgency of saving the planet alongside the speedy satisfying combat. The only deficiency in this area is the lack of variety; while it’s a short game overall, more music in this style would have helped add novelty to each combat experience. What’s there is fantastic and changes just enough to stay fresh through your first playthrough, but since you really need to play through this game multiple times, more variety would have helped to keep the experience fresh.

Grimlock no figure out cube smash

Grimlock no figure out cube smash

Devastation has a few issues that prevent it from reaching the greater heights however. The campaign is short; there’s considerable variability by virtue of allowing you to select from one of five characters for the majority of the story, but that doesn’t change the fact that completing the campaign occurs too quickly. While many games overstay their welcome, Devastation is such fun that it would have been enjoyable to continue fighting the decepticons for a good deal longer. It’s worth noting this game retailed for $10 less than other conventional titles, so it is in that sense a budget game.

Top down combat isn't nearly as fun

Top down combat isn’t nearly as fun

There are occasionally sections with different types of gameplay, and these suffer from lack of polish. Side-scrolling driving scenes and top-down missions both succeed in breaking out of the mold of the game’s standard combat, but they leave much to be desired. With a little more work, they could have been interesting diversions from the main format; thankfully, they are short episodes, and the game never dwells on them for too long.

The most major misstep in the game occurs through the weapon management system. It’s clunky, time-consuming, and uninteresting. Having to mess with synthesizing weapons over and over effectively takes you out of the main joy of Devastation, which is the wonderful gameplay. It’s also not rewarding, and can even be confusing; Bayonetta featured a great system where you were able to try out moves and practice, but for some inconceivable reason they chose not to have that option in this game. Because of this, you’re often left guessing.

You technically level up, but the system feels flat and unimportant

You technically level up, but the system feels flat and unimportant

Devastation is without a doubt the best Transformers video game out there bar none. If you’ve played previous games in the franchise, don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this entry. While not without its imperfections, the fluid combat mechanics, nostalgic performances, sleek new visuals, and rocking tunes make this a must-buy for any fan of the Transformers universe.

Final Score: 9.0/10

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