PlatinumGames’ Transformers: Devastation is a love story for any and all fans of the popular ’80s cartoon series and toy line by Hasbro toys. It is a love story for gamers in general. Ripe with intense battles, great controls, awesome transformation sequences, awe inspiring graphics, excellent voice cast, and a story that felt like it was ripped right out of the cartoon, all culminate flawlessly together.
PlatinumGames proved an excellent choice of developer from Activision. They are that rare development team that can bring their visions to fruition without sacrificing too much of anything in the process. And Devastation proves that by making this game one of the most fun, exciting, and exhilarating experiences I’ve ever played in my life.
I never watched the ’80s cartoon series, nor did I play with the toy line. So starting this game out, I had very little knowledge of what to expect. I only understood that PlatinumGames knows how to harness their team energy into making dreams come true. By the time I finished Devastation a dream I didn’t even know existed came completely true.
Devastation begins with playing as Optimus Prime (the Autobots’ leader and star of the recent movies) and going through tutorials and missions that are brilliantly mixed together as one and the same. From about five minutes into Devastation, I gave off a big smile just after the first mission.
"By the time I finished Devastation a dream I didn’t even know existed came completely true."
Controls are solid and fluid. Attacks are mixed between simple, one button presses repeated over and over, or combining two buttons building on different combinations. Building upon combos eventually leads to ‘Vehicle Attack.’ By quickly pressing [R1] when prompted, this allows the combo to continue by transforming the Transformer characters (one of many to choose from) into their respective vehicles and attacking the enemy with a barrage of specialty vehicle attacks. This may sound like a hack-and-slash beat-em-up game, which it is; but it holds so much more like leveling up and racing elements; it feels more like a hack-and-slash-beat-em-up-RPG-arcade-racer.
Special green icon locations scattered throughout the city of Devastation (usually at the beginning and end of each chapter) can be opened. This leads to Ark access: a command center (or menu system) where it becomes possible to upgrade, purchase and create several different items. And where most of the non-action time should be spent.
Weapons are plentiful and varied throughout. They can be collected through battles, loot boxes or purchased from the Ark. There are long distance (missal launchers, machine guns, etc.) and melee (swords, axes, etc) weapons to choose from. Every character is require to have at least one long distance and one melee equipped at all times.
Nearly every weapon can be upgraded to at least level 10. Upgrades come by accessing the Synthesize menu within the Ark. Combining one or more weapons together, then adding in a few cash credits will form a more stronger base weapon. Some weapons have abilities — such as extra attack strength, or more XP earned — that can be carried over through synthesizing.
"This may sound like a hack-and-slash beat-em-up game, which it is; but it holds so much more like leveling up and racing elements; it feels more like a hack-and-slash-beat-em-up-RPG-arcade-racer."
Stats for each character — like strength and defense — can be raised naturally through battle or purchased within the Ark as well. What else does this Ark contain? T.E.C.H. upgrades which add special abilities, weapons purchases in the Lab, character selection, and much more. The Ark is like a dream when you realize how much can really be accomplished within the subset menu. And it’s all disguised to looks like the Transformers’ command center.
Gameplay is not only varied and completely different from mission to mission, it’s exciting, unique, and greatly challenging. After the very short tutorial missions — which don’t feel like tutorials but more along the lines of just playing the game — missions begin to blossom. Many different elements were implemented into Devastation. From fighting waves of enemies, to jumping through platform puzzles, and of course, racing against time or Decepticons.
Never for a second did it feel repetitive. There was always something new to experience. Even boss battles were varied throughout. Soundwave — one of the many Decepticon bosses — stood in the middle of a stage. Running up to him and bashing his chrome brains in seemed the only solution. But then it became apparent that was not the case. Even getting close to Soundwave, he has the ability to use his sound waves (go figure) and distorts the stage with massive ripples and fluctuations in sight perception. It was astonishing and beyond words. Every boss was an absolute joy to face off against and unique in their own way. Never overly powerful or too easy.
The real thing this games gives you from from all that nonstop action is it really is a lot of fun. It could have been twice as long and still held on to its depth and feel of how complete this game really is. Devastation achieved an unparalleled level of fun I haven’t experienced in a long time in gaming.
"Never for a second did it feel repetitive. There was always something new to experience. Even boss battles were varied throughout."
Transforming into each Transformers’ respective vehicle type was simple with the press of [R1]. Driving may feel shaky and a little too loose at first, but that’s simply do to that specific transformer’s driving stats. Though driving (or running around as a T-Rex can’t be adjusted for steering, wheels, handling, etc. there is no need for it to be. Each character’s driving style is a bit different from the others’. So if one Transformer feels too unstable, switch to another. The best part is you can play with any Transformer as long as you’d like — and as long as they’ve been found/unlocked –, or switch at any time by heading over to the Ark. This makes focusing on fully upgrading one specific Transformer to your play style much easier in the long run.
Certain areas can be replayed as challenges in Challenge Mode. The only stipulation is each one must be found and unlocked within single player first. Challenges are often centered around waves of enemies that must be destroyed within a certain time limit to achieve an ‘S’ ranking. These challenges heavily extend an otherwise short game, adding to the replay value exponentially.
Devastation has an abundance of collectables that can be found through defeating enemies, opening loot boxes, or completing mini challenges. Intel items are also lying around. These items unlock features in the Collection menu; Files: of art and logs, and a Gallery: containing art and character models can be opened with intel items. There is so much to find and collect it could take hours.
"The best part is you can play with any Transformer as long as you’d like — and as long as they’ve been found/unlocked –, or switch at any time by heading over to the Ark. This makes focusing on fully upgrading one specific Transformer to your play style much easier in the long run."
Transformer fans are in for an even bigger treat when it comes to the voices. Several voice actors reprise their roles from the 1980s show. Peter Cullen plays Optimus Prime (also from the recent film series as well), Dan Gilvezan as Bunblebee, Frank Welker as Megatron and many more. A collection of well known voice actors reprising their roles from 30 years ago really brought out the authenticity PlatinumGames didn’t just aim for, but fully achieved.
Devastation’s art style and level design are reminiscent of that found in the original cartoon (I started watching it after I played the game!). The cel-shaded graphics match the cartoon and toy line uncannily. Breaching the television screen with a rainbow of bright, Saturday-morning-cartoon style vibes that never let up. Bleeding with a pleasing sense of simplicity and beauty never looked so authentic.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much this game truly meant to me by the end. And even after the end I found so much more I didn’t even know the game implemented. There’s so much more to this game than meets the eye (sorry I had to). After I cracked that first smile, it never let up. Not a single element in the game was frustrating. Not a single moment felt unfair. Item menus kept my health up if it got too tough, but never overly challenging. Its only shortcoming would be a game that’s too short but covered up with a variety of collectables and challenges and an asking price $10 cheaper than a regular retail game. I feel an overwhelming sense to jump up and scream “Get this game!” I highly recommend anyone who wants to reach out and try something that is truly a shining example of what fun really is.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
From the moment the game starts it never lets up on showcasing a giant boss battle, varied missions, and an exhaustively good time. Oh, and it's only $50.
An all too short experience.
Transformers: Devastation is a rare gem that never lets off the gas. When other games try too hard to be more than they are Devastation truly is more than meets the eye.
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