When it comes to licensed games, Platinum Games currently have mixed results. At best we get 2013’s fantastic Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which was the most fun I had all of the year, and at worst we get The Legend of Korra. The latter is by no means a terrible game, it certainly was lacking the quality most fans have come to expect from the company.
With that knowledge I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Transformers Devastation, as it was published by Activision, who were also in charge of publishing the Legend of Korra game, so I was quite nervous as I began playing the game. Thankfully, my worries were quickly eased when I first got into the combat as it proved itself to be a more than competent action game.
The plot for the game is very simple; Megatron has found a way to terraform the earth, transforming it into a proxy Cybertron. Optimus Prime and his comrades must find a way to stop him from wiping all organic life from earth. After watching the first cutscene, it dawned on me that this was really meant for fans of the original show, as very little is actually explained.
The plot specific elements are at least explained well enough for the average player to follow, but unless you are familiar with the 1980s TV show, most terminology will fly over your head. They try to mitigate this with character and lore logs that you pick up throughout the game, but it’s not the greatest substitute if you aren’t interested in them.
Platinum Games did a very smart choice sticking with the original Transformers designs along with a cell shaded look, as the game looks fantastic. The games visual style makes the combat look even more frantic and energetic, making it even more enjoyable to play through.
The games only weakness in this aspect is the level design, as throughout the game you’ll be fighting in one of two different locations; downtown or inside a cybertronian spaceship. An increase in diversity would have been preferable, but what we do get isn’t bad, just repetitive.
Now to the meat of any Platinum game: the gameplay. If I were to describe it, it would be a mix between Bayonetta and Vanquish with an emphasis on the former. Performing a well timed dodge will put the character in Focus mode, which essentially slows down time and allows the player to do tons of damage without repercussion.
Attempting to spam the dodge button will actually penalize you, as a missed dodge will allow the enemy to get some pretty good hits on you. This is especially true against bosses, where a couple of hits can bring a player down to below half health. There’s also a mechanic where when an Autobot is in their vehicle (and in one case dinosaur) mode, they can drive at full speed and perform a charge attack that can break through shields and extend a combo. This adds another level of depth to boss fights as you’ll be zipping around in the vehicle mode, waiting for the chance to get a good charge attack out.
All the Autobots can have 4 weapons equipped at any time, their melee weapon, gun and the last two left to their discretion. Depending on what kind of melee weapon is equipped will change the nature of the combos. What I found strange is that only certain weapons will have a move that will launch the enemy in the air. It doesn’t matter a whole lot ultimately, as there aren’t any real air combos to be had in the game. I mean you could theoretically do them, but it’s most of the time not very practical.
That’s where the gunplay comes in. You’ll more often than not have to resort to using your guns to dispatch most of the air based enemies you’ll encounter. I actually found myself enjoying using them quite a bit, more so than I thought. Unlike in Bayonetta where it’s simply used to extend your combo, the guns in Transformers: Devastation are incredibly practical and synergise really well with your Focus ability, especially against the multitude of bosses you’ll face.
On the topic of that, there are a ton of bosses and mini bosses in this game, and each are blast to fight against. Most of the fun you will have with this game will be when fighting the various Decepticons, including but not limited to Starscream, Soundwave, Devastator and of course Megatron. A minor grievance is that they end up recycling some of the boss fights, but there so much fun that you’ll quickly over look it.
Despite how fun the game plays and the enjoyment of the bosses, there are a couple of sizable problems the game suffers from, and depending on what kind of person you are might affect your enjoyment of the game. The first, and probably most glaring flaw, is the lack of combos. You will not get any new combo inputs outside of the first few that the game teaches you.
There might be a little more variety than that, but if there is it isn’t a whole lot.
There aren’t any new ones you can purchase, as all the moves in the shop revolve more around defensive moves such as a parry and an improved Focus mode and some charge moves. The game could have really benefited from a launcher and some aerial combos, but alas we did not get any.
The second major flaw is the games length. If I had to estimate my playtime, it would be somewhere in the 4-5 hour range. This might not be too surprising to platinum fans, as the much beloved Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was around that length.
The game attempts to compensate it’s game length with multiple playthroughs. Because you have a cast of 5 playable characters, several playthroughs with each one is encouraged. It would have been a better incentive to play if you can unlock the Decepticons on your second playthrough. They might add them later as DLC, but for now you have the five playable bots.
Transformers: Devastation serves as very solid action game, but suffers from a lack of depth in its combat and a fairly short playtime. Its boss fights, frenetic energy, and pacing to help to alleviate the games shortcomings, and you’ll have a big smile on your face while playing.
If you’re a fan of Transformers or even a Platinum games fan, I’d recommend picking it up. If you’re looking for something with more complexity to it, you might want to wait for a sale to come up before you consider buying it.
Transformers: Devastation was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 7.5
- Great visual style
- Five playable characters right off the bat
- Incredibly enjoyable combat and boss fights
- Game is quite short
- Combat despite being fun lacks some depth
- Can’t play as Decepticons