Console: PlayStation 4
* The cell-shaded look captures the essence of the original cartoon series perfectly
* Voice acting is spot on
* Plenty of depth with equipment and abilities
* Nostalgia! Nostalgia! Nostalgia!
* Environments could use more variety and aren’t very interesting
* Felt like the game was lacking the scale and importance of previous efforts like the Cybertron Series
Thanks to the good folks at Activision we were given the opportunity to get our hands on Transformers: Devastation and after doing a lot thinking on how I wanted to sum up the experience of playing, I feel like I finally put my finger on how to phrase it. Playing this game is pretty much exactly like being inside an episode of the G1 Transformers series. However playing this game isn’t at all like being inside the 1986 Transformers: Animated Movie. Every “old school” Transformers fan should be able to relate to this statement and realize the point I’m trying to make. This is perhaps the most accurate TF game that we have ever seen when it comes to the G1 cartoon, but it fits perfectly to me when comparing the difference between the series and the animated movie. I’m not quite sure what it is, but it somehow doesn’t seem as epic or impact me as much as I feel that it could have.
The ’86 film had so many “bad ass” moments and iconic lines that really changed how we thought of The Transformers and their universe. I can admit that I have personally reenacted Optimus Prime launching himself into the air and laying waste to Decepticons hundreds of times. Even the modern TF films have brought back lines like “One Shall Stand and One Shall Fall” for the simple reason of being completely awesome. This film was so incredible that it put the TV Series a little bit more into perspective for me. Of course that is where it all started, but it was also just put together to sell toys. I don’t mean to diminish the series but the storylines just seem more basic in comparison and I really feel like the ’86 film took things to such a new height. Ever since this film, I feel like the Transformers universe has been chasing that same feeling and trying to find a way to capture the same magic.
I wanted to touch on these feelings because I feel so strongly that Transformers: Devastation is definitely a step in the right direction, but I also feel like it’s just a starting point and needs to build from here.
Presentation : A+
This is where Transformers: Devastation excels the most and really manages to captures the essence of the original series. I consider this an amazing feat since so many pieces of media anymore try to go retro and bring back favorites of the past. Bringing back Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave), Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), Michael Bell (Sideswipe, Scrapper), and of course Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) truly seems like an excellent and necessary move once everything is seen in motion. There are some characters that have been recast, but unlike most other situations the actors are perfect and range from sounding close enough to spot on to their original counterparts.
Voice actors in combination with picture perfect visuals really make the experience hard to take in at first. It took a minute for me to realize that I was taking control of these characters in this environment and it felt just as good as I hoped it would be. Watching Optimus Prime give orders and threaten the Decepticons, then being able to grab the controls and take the battle into my own hands was nothing short of awesome! Being able to transform and hear the correct signature sound was just icing on the cake. The only thing that would have made this experience better was if they included the blaster sound effects from the series, but this is such a minor complaint I hate to even mention it.
The original soundtrack fits perfectly (which could have been another problem), bringing rocking guitars that actually feel reminiscent of the ’86 film and provide an excellent backdrop for all the Transformers action is also a welcome addition.
I mention the environment as one of its cons, but let’s be clear… It looks like it should and matches the cell-shaded look that the game is going for, but I just kind of find the city uninteresting. While the levels can be somewhat repetitive my biggest complaint is that they are mostly non interactive and just kind of serve to house all of the action and never convey a life of their own.
Single Player : A
I have to admit I was leery about the gameplay at first. When I first heard about the game, I thought it was going to be a basic brawler with not much else going on. While the game is centered mostly around the combat there is also plenty of vehicle action, some basic platforming and a very in-depth upgrade system.
The game is broken up into 7 chapters; each of these are divided into a series of missions that essentially follow the formula of navigate the sandbox environment, battle generic Deceptions, then fight the mission boss. These boss battles are used to showcase the cast of named Decepticons like Soundwave, Devastator, Starscream, Blitzwing and many others. You progress through unlocking different Autobots in the first few chapters, but after a couple you are able to choose who you take control of.
You are given the choice of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and Grimlock. They all control extremely well and handle differently adding more depth and reason for using the different characters. I’m really happy they added Grimlock to the cast, but as the only character that doesn’t transform into a car it does feel a little strange at first. It would have been great to see the entire Dinobot line up added to the roster, but that really goes for so many other Autobots as well. As with any game everyone always wants more and this is certainly no exception. This game begs for expansion and it would be awesome to see the sequel bring in a much larger cast and more epic storyline.
Like I stated above I really feel that this is a brilliant effort and a perfect direction for the Transformers universe, but I also think it would be a mistake to view this as the ultimate TF game. The storyline and cutscenes are just like watching a classic episode, but I would love to see them take this formula and expand in the terms of story and cast to blow the fans away with something that would be on the same level as the ’86 film. Bring in Judd Nelson, Introduce Unicron, and completely knock the socks of the audience. I hate to reference something so many times, but that piece of media is a rare circumstance that very few brands ever achieve. This being something that becomes talked about for years to come and serves as a gauge and reference point for everything after. I feel that this game series has the potential to reach that point and I certainly hope it will.
It’s no secret that PlatinumGames is well experienced in area of combat given some of their previous efforts being two very excellent Bayonetta titles and the incredible Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This experience is put to good use with Transformers: Devastation and thankfully so. In true PlatinumGames fashion there are so many insane combos to be perfected and amazing they seem to really reflect each characters personality when executed. Whether you take the time to learn these moves or just “button mash” like my six year old son, you will certainly get your chance to turn some Decepticons into scrap metal.
One of the cooler aspects of the game occurs when you get the opportunity to visit The Ark. You are able to dismantle, research, and combine weapons to build them up and improve their stats. Being able to take some of the weapons that are dropped by enemies and work them into Optimus Prime’s Ion Blaster is a pretty neat addition. You can also just sell them and turn them into in-game credits. These credits can be used for a variety of purposes including adding points to each character’s stats or unlocking new abilities.
You can also develop and equip T.E.C.H. components. The opportunity to invest your credits and research these components can result in upgrades giving you “passive” skills that can be slotted in each character. One thing to note is that by increasing your character’s RNK skill, you can unlock additional slots for more T.E.C.H. components and give your Autobot even more skill advantages. The other plus side is that with each character being leveled up individually, you are able to experiment with many different loadouts and upgrade paths.
The bottom line is that this game is a ton of fun and with the amount of depth in the combat system and character upgrades you will certainly stay entertained until the final credits roll.
Multiplayer : N/A
Replay Value : B
Transformers: Devastation brings with it five difficulty modes, with two of these being unlocked after your first playthrough. The saving grace is that all of your experience and weapons come with you essentially making these two levels “game plus” modes. Some other noteworthy additions are the fifty standalone challenge missions that are found throughout the campaign. These can be discovered as side missions as you progress or accessed from the main menu once unlocked giving you perfect access to all of the content at your convenience. There are also quite a few audio logs and some cool conceptual art that are littered throughout the game just waiting to be found.
I can certainly see myself picking this one up from time to time to bash some Decepticons or unlock the rest of the content. There is plenty to do for a good period of time and you can easily invest even more just trying to learn and perfect all the combos.
We have covered a lot and I hope to have brought up a few areas that I feel should be focused on in the future, but I can’t stress the importance enough of taking these issues with a grain of salt. I’m a huge Transformers fan and one day I would love to see the “end all” game for the hardcore fan, or perhaps just an epic entry into the series. These wishes are truly asking a lot and may never be achievable, but after seeing Transformers: Devastation in action I can honestly say that we are one step closer.
This title is truly “fan service” all the way around and it’s nice to see developers see that need and acknowledge it. This game is well executed and provides an excellent amount of nostalgia bringing an incredibly fun experience to just about any type of gamer. We highly recommend checking this one out!