Activision is back this year with a brand new game in the Transformers series and this time, they’re ditching the movies to go back to the cartoon series that made this franchise a household name. Is there more than meets the eye to Transformers: Devastation or is this one more licensed shovelware?
I’ve never played a Transformers game before so I didn’t know what to expect when I started Transformers: Devastation. The last game that I played that was remotely close to this one was Beast Wars on the PS1. That game wasn’t very good even though I loved that TV series as a child. In recent years, I’ve been interested in the Transformers games that have been coming out, but I never did get to try any of them so I didn’t know what to expect coming in to this one. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found even if it was a tad bit repetitive.
Transformers: Devastation is a fresh take on the 80s cartoon series and movie. I felt like I was playing out the cartoon as I started to go through the game. Devastation throws you right into the action with a big battle against the gigantic Devastator. The biggest positive that Transformers: Devastation has going to it is the presentation aspect. The cell-shaded graphics bring you straight back to the 80s and the effects really bring everything together. Even though the Transformers look spectacular, the settings leave so much more to be desired it gets to the point where if you didn’t have a mini-map, you wouldn’t know one spot from another. It really disappointed me to see how much the game world was neglected when the characters and cars looked so vibrant and colourful. There were far too many duplicate areas for a game this size.
The combat system is a very easy to pick up system with four weapon slots, a block button, and two melee buttons (quick and power). There is also a special button that gets built up with special attacks against enemies and a vehicle attack available after a number of successive strikes. I had an easy enough time figuring out the best strategies to defeat my various foes. The key proved to be using a variety of different combos and strikes to throw off your enemy. The bosses and even regular enemies are no slouches and prove to be quite difficult if you don’t use all of your moves and weapons effectively. If you try to go in with an all-offense mentality, you’ll be defeated quickly.
Platinum Games decided to put a weapon upgrade system in Devastation to create some variety with the battles and give players a way to get an edge over the enemies. Normally I would enjoy an upgrade system, but I didn’t feel like the weapons were as diverse as they could be. I had 6 steel swords at one point that were generally the same besides some being higher levels than others. On the flip-side of that, they did include elemental effects to some of the weapons with things like fire and lightning making each weapon more punishing than its original form. Tech is another useful addition to the game, however, it’s somewhat random on what you acquire. You will randomly find obtain different buffs for different abilities. Sometimes you’ll get an100% boost for defense, other times you’ll get a 30% boost for item drops. It’s a random system and one that would be better if there was more of a rhyme or reason to what you get. For what it’s worth, you can buy weapons and tech and that makes it much easier to strategize, so it’s not all that bad.
You can use any of the five playable Autobots (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Sideswipe, and Wheeljack) in any mission. Each of these Autobots have unique abilities, moves, and specialties that sets them apart from the rest. Bumblebee is a speedier bot, but he’s not as powerful as say Optimus who is the opposite. Each character is just original enough to make it worth playing through with just to see how the experience changes. Each character can switch from vehicle to bot form seamlessly and it’s really fun to watch them drive into a Decepticon, morph into a bot, and start battling right away all in one fell swoop. The driving missions were a bit tedious to go through though. I overtook the boss countless times and started getting confused as to where he was because he’d take a different route or be so much slower that I’d have to go back to attack him.
Transformers: Devastation is a very decent game that, with a bit more polish, could have been an incredible game. The presentation, from the character models to the original voice actors reprising their roles really brought this game together. The game loses points for its lifeless game world that looked like they clicked copy and paste over and over again. Devastation is a great starting point for what could be a brand new series of Transformers games from Activision. Platinum did a great job on what was, essentially, a budget game ($49.99CAD). If you’re a fan of Transformers or even this genre of games, you need to at least give this game a quick play, it’s a lot better than I expected and I’d definitely love more like it with even more depth.