Title: Transformers: Devastation
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4 Xbox 360 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Release date: Out now
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The war between Autobots and Decepticons returns to gaming with Transformers: Devastation. This time, Optimus Prime and his crew of Autobots return to Earth in order to stop Megatron, who is up to no good once again. This time around, Megatron discovers a way to harness the power of plasma energy, which will ultimately destroy the planet and turn every living being into metal. Can the Autobots save Earth?
Right off the bat, it’s clear that this was a PlatinumGames project. PG is known for creating fast paced action games with quick and reflex-testing combat, and Transformers Devastation is no different. It features seven chapters of insane challenges that would make Tomonobu Itagaki proud. At first, players will switch between Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Soundwave, and as you progress through the game, you can also unlock Sideswipe and Wheel Jack. You can change characters during missions when you come across a portal to the Ark, and sometimes changing characters can help players get through some of the game’s (many) hard times. Otherwise, you can always swap characters in between chapters.
The overall premise is nothing new. You’re thrown into a map. Move through narrow passages until you find a more opened area. Short cinematic. Fight enemies. Move on. Fight sub-boss. Move on. Fight boss. Chapter finished. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are two ways to move around: either walk or drive. You can morph into your vehicle form at any time and drive away.
Sadly, the driving mechanic is a bit frustrating as instead of pressing a button to drive or back up, you need to push up or down on joystick; which isn’t the best or easier way to get around. In order to mix things up, the developers also added a few platforming sequences, which are annoying. They break the flow and it’s not well implemented. The game also features top-down sequences that are basically the game’s worst fault. Being from a top-down perspective hinders the player from properly anticipating enemy attacks, so it often leads to frustrating deaths.
Each character can equip two melee weapons and two guns which can be changed with the D-Pad at all times during the game. Much like other PG projects like Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising, combat is one of the game’s strongest point. Each Autobot has a standard attack, strong attack and dodge button. The game’s combat is simple in its complexity. The dodge button will prove vital to your survival. Against standard enemies, it will allow players to hone their skills in order to get ready for sub and end of chapter bosses. Standard Deception forces will do a set and reasonable amount of damage to our heroes, but when facing off against a bigger enemy, not mastering the dodge button will prove costly and frustrating.
Some bosses can completely eliminate you in about four hits. Yep. FOUR hits. Game over. So dodging is key. In order to give you an edge, some players might recognize one of Bayonetta’s skills. Timing your dodge perfectly against an enemy attack will slow down time, allowing players to get a few additional hits in before the boss dashes away. Although useful against bosses, you still give little to no damage to them unless you can pull a lengthy combo. Successfully pulling off attacks and combos will also fill up your Transformer’s Focus Attack meter. Once filled up, players can pull a massive attack, which will eat up a lot of their health bar; useful when in a jam and you’re about to die.
The dodge button also comes in handy when you’re on the offensive. Mount up a combo consisting of a few hits and you’ll trigger the Vehicle attack. Press the dodge button when prompted and your Autobot will morph in their vehicle form and do a bit more damage to the closest enemy. Great way to vary your combos, as timing things and cornering an enemy will let players chain into another combo. Of course, that’s not all. As you take out Deceptions, they’ll drop the standard action game items, such as health and energy kits. Repair kits also prove useful, as they can revive the downed Autobot on the spot, giving you a chance to keep on fighting.
In order to give you an edge over the Decepticons, PlatinumGames implemented an option where weapons can be fused or synthesized, in order to create stronger weapons. You’ll come across a buttload of weapons throughout the game, so you’ll spend a lot of time trying to craft more efficient ones, always trying to find a better and more efficient melee weapon. All five of the playable Transformers can also craft T.E.C.H.s. These pieces of nifty hardware are basically upgrades. You can equip two at a time, and they’ll enhance your character; for example, they can improve your defence or slowdown times as you perfectly dodge enemy attacks.
Transformers: Devastation features beautiful cel-shaded visuals; giving off a cartoon-like vibe. Fans of the long-running franchise will feel as if they’re playing through a cartoon, with high levels of character details in their design. However, the environments are pretty bland. Although they’re highly colourful, they still feel bland and lifeless. If a Transformer is thrown into a building, wouldn’t it crumble? Also, there are some dark levels where the level of detail is very minimal. The game’s score is pretty forgettable. as you’ll be focused on not dying instead of paying attention to the music. I can, however, safely say that they’ve nailed down the transforming sound perfectly; another nod which makes players think they’re playing one of the cartoon shows.
Transformers: Devastation is another PlatinumGames masterpiece. Sure, it’s not going to win any awards for its story, but the proper use of the Transformers franchise along with the deep combat system it is sure to please any fans of the beat’em up genre. Although boss battles will provide painstaking and frustrating, perseverance will prove rewarding. This is easily of the hidden gems of 2015. Don’t miss out.
- Classic PlatinumGames formula
- Beautiful cel-shaded visuals
- Great use of the Transformers franchise
- That Transformers morphing sound
- Fun customization and upgrade system
- Little to no margin for error in combat
- Frustrating and tedious boss fights
- Bland environments
- Harsh scoring system
Transformers Devastation is rated T for Teen. The game features fantasy violence between robots, similar as you’d see in a Transformers cartoon.
Code provided courtesy of Xbox UK