No Transformers theme or movie music is criminal. Instead we get indistinct rockin' rock music. Props to Platinum and Activision for roping in the original voice actors though for maximum authenticity.
Enough to make an old Transformers fan like me weep with joy. Devastation looks beautiful, bringing fond memories of Saturday morning TV flooding back. Optimus Prime and the gang have never looked so shiny.
Initial frustration gradually gives way to almost action game nirvana, as Platinum once again does what it does best. It's nowhere near Bayonetta, but there's shared DNA here, which is more than enough.
Every Transformer has a weakness, and Devastation's is its story mode, which is over all too soon. Sure, you can go back and replay it and dip into Challenge Mode, but that's literally all there is to it. Five playable Autobots and zero playable Decepticons is also a bit disappointing.
A nasty little achievement list that demands several complete playthroughs and defeating bosses without taking damage. It's been designed purely to make you play longer, but not in a good or clever way. Horrible.
October 09, 2015
Much of my misspent pre-adolescent youth was whiled away with LEGO, video games, and the occasional breakneck BMX ride down the street, but Transformers also played a pretty major role. I remember how impressive Scorponok looked upon first seeing it and still feel the pain of leaving Rodimus Prime in a Wimpy toilet aged six, only to return to discover that he'd gone, lost forever. Transformers: Devastation is ostensibly a game made for stupid thirty-something Transformers fans like me, and there's no doubt that Platinum Games knows exactly how to poke at the nostalgia glands.
But as a fan, I'm bound to be a picky sod, and the lack of the Transformers theme or 'The Touch' from the movie at the game's title menu immediately seems like a horrible oversight. As the game looks like the classic animated TV show (or rather, the extended toy commercial), I was hoping for the original 80s soundtrack, perhaps with the loading screens made to look like the graphics between scenes from the cartoon, but no. Nitpicking omissions all, yes. But still.
This big greeny is Devastator. He's hard as nails.
Happily, most of the voice actors, from Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime and Frank Welker reprising his role as Megatron, Soundwave et al matches the almost perfect aesthetic that Platinum Games has managed to translate from the animated series, and by and large the minute-to-minute button-mashing gameplay feels nice and immediate.
Granted, it's not exactly Bayonetta or Vanquish (but then again, what is?), but Transformers: Devastation is nonetheless a fairly accomplished action game that demands quick reactions and some moderate dexterity. However, it can get a little repetitious rather quickly, especially once you figure out the winning pattern of combos you can regularly fall back on, and follow up with a devastating vehicle attack or a big special move once your meter is filled.
Thankfully, there's a fair bit of depth to Transformers: Devastation due to the smattering of RPG elements that have been tossed into the pot. Weapons collected in the field are taken back to The Ark (Autobot HQ), where you can combine them to synthesise newer and more powerful versions, while Tech can also be developed in exchange for credits and a modicum of skill in a simple mini-game. Both can then be equipped to your Autobot of choice, granting a variety of attributes.
Transformers: Devastation features five playable Autobots to choose from, with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack and Grimlock offering some strong favourites from the TV series. Decepticon fans will be a bit gutted, however, as there's no option to play as the bad guys like you could in High Moon's Cybertron titles. It's a bit of a shame given the brevity of the story that there aren't a few Decepticon chapters involving Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave and the rest thrown into the mix.
That said, Optimus and co. play differently enough to warrant chopping and changing at various intervals, and you can do so whenever you reach a checkpoint that transports you to The Ark. It's a shame then that a bunch of the game's achievements encourage you to complete the entire game as each character without changing, undermining the whole idea of mixing it up between missions. Defeating every boss without taking damage on Commander (hard) difficulty is also a big ask, rendering the achievement list really only for anyone who enjoys self-imposed misery. As lists go, it's mostly filler, requiring numerous repeat playthroughs.
Yet, achieving victory without taking damage isn't impossible once you master the game's Focus ability. Like Bayonetta's Witch Time, activating Focus involves timing a dodge at just the right moment to temporarily slow time, leaving your foe open to an onslaught of attacks. Initially, striving to hit the sweet spot can result in a great deal of frustration, but once you master it, you'll commit it to muscle memory and find yourself constantly able to pull it out of the bag.
Soundwave: still using tape cassettes.
And that's when Transformers: Devastation comes into its own. Boss battles go from being a chore to something of a joy, as you pitch dodges perfectly, follow up combos with vehicle attacks, learn to transform and use rush strikes to send an enemy flying or break their guard, and figure out how to telegraph incoming assaults. Once again, Platinum Games has got it just about right in the combat stakes, and has even found time to layer a bit of a looting system on top with collectibles and the aforementioned light RPG elements.
Which is why it's even more of a disappointment that the story is over in about 4-6 hours, leaving you with the Challenge Mode and its 50 tasks to work through, offering time attack, survival and other objectives that will likely try your patience. Still, any credits and items you earn can be taken into the story, perhaps for a second playthrough at a higher difficulty, if you're so inclined.
Chances are you might not be. Transformers: Devastation is great fun while it lasts and the presentation is superb, but its story isn't exactly stellar stuff. Solid combat and gameplay only takes Transformers: Devastation so far, and while that backbone is strong, it's not really enough to keep luring you back for more. A superb Transformers game, Devastation is simply lacking. But there's the groundwork here for a potentially amazing sequel. Fingers crossed that Platinum gets the greenlight for a bigger and better second game.