Transformers: Devastation – PlayStation 4
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Developer: Platinum Games
Genre: Beat’em Up
Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10
It’s surprising that a property like Transformers, that is so tailor-made for a medium such as video games, has not bee represented as well as it deserves. Most representations of the Transformers universe has been in the form of cheap knock-off’s, movie tie-in’s, or a tie-in with the Beast Wars spinoff from the late nineties. A series featuring giant robots that transform into slick vehicles while battling other giant robots who do the same, all for the protection of humanity should be ripe for epic representation as a game, if paired with the right developer.
This is why Transformers: Devastation is so intriguing. A pairing of a fantastic I.P. with the undisputed masters of the action genre, Platinum Games, should be a match made in gaming heaven. However, a couple of stumbles within the design prevent it from reaching the heights that it rightfully should.
Where Transformers: Devastation achieves its greatest successes are in its authenticity to the Transformers universe and the addicting qualities of the game-play crafted by Platinum Games.
Transformers: Devastation’s story line is modeled after a combination between the IDW comic books and the original cartoon series. The plot kicks off with our intrepid robotic heroes arriving on the scene of a human city under siege from Decepticon attacks originating from beneath the surface of the city. Optimus Prime and crew pursue Megatron underground where they learn that the attacks are part of the defense mechanism of a crashed probe known as the Proudstar. This droid ship traveled from Cybertron to search for planets that could be converted into suitable homes for Cybertronians to inhabit. Megatron has taken control of this device and is attempting to use it in order to terraform Earth and create a new Cybertron under his control. The Autobots engage in a desperate struggle to prevent Earth from being destroyed, as well as recapture the core of the Proudstar which happens to contain all of the historical and cultural information from their home world.
The game plays out like an extended storyline arch from the comics and TV show. It also helps that original voice actors like Peter Cullen, who provides the iconic vocalization of Optimus Prime, have returned. That, coupled with the cell shading techniques used by the developers, gives Transformers: Devastation a credibility as an actual piece within the Transformers universe, rather than being an obvious attempt at cashing in on the franchise. The sound design also compliments the authentic motif. The music is a guitar-heavy, 80’s inspired compliment to the intensity of the action, and of course a Transformers game would not be Transformers game without the classic transformation sound-effect, which is spot-on.
Transformers: Devastation allows you to control one of five of the classic characters from the series. Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sidwswipe, Wheeljack, and Grimlock. The game-play builds upon Platinum Games’ excellent combat engine, providing fast, smooth, and stylish action that is simplistic enough to quickly grasp yet deep enough to keep you engaged through the game. The Autobots can perform combos using a mixture of light and heavy melee attacks and then quickly transform into vehicle form when prompted for extra damaging finishers. Once mastered, the combat can become an enthralling ballet of beat-down’s, however this is where the first of the design stumbles comes into play.
As you would expect in a Transformers game, you are able to transform between robot and vehicle form at any time by pressing the R1 button (on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions) however that same button is also used as a dodge button, which is an essential element of the combat system. Much like Platinum’s previous effort, Bayonetta 2, a perfectly timed dodge will slow down time allowing you to rush in and get in extra hits. The difference in what move comes out is in the length of time you press the button. A harder, longer press will engage your transformation abilities, while a light, quick press should perform a dodge. The problem with that shared function is that when you are in the heat of battle it is extremely easy to bring out the wrong move, thus messing up your combo and potentially leaving you open to devastating enemy attacks. This proved mildly frustrating on a number of occasions.
The second, more glaring stumble comes from the lack of a lock-on function for the camera. It’s surprising that an action game as intense as this one does not give you any way to track on enemy other than an indicator set of arrows pointing in the direction of your foes. This made a few of the fights against flying enemies, especially one gnarly boss fight against against Decepticon Starscream unnecessarily difficult.
Although the length of Transformers: Devastation is on the short side, there is ample opportunity for multiple play-through’s using the array of characters at your disposal. There are a number of weapons and items that can be found amidst the stages which can be synthesized to create new, more powerful instruments of destruction. A timed mini-game allows you to create tech, which act as various stat effect boosts that can be equipped on your character of choice. You have to pay a number of collected credits for the chance to develop that tech, with failure in the mini-game leading to a petty upgrade.
Overall Transformers: Devastation is a worthy compliment to a legendary franchise. It honors its legacy with an affection that has not been seen in previous video game incarnations, while providing an interesting and fun title that people who are not necessarily fans of the Transformers properties can enjoy. Although it is not the best effort from Platinum Games, Transformers: Devastation still exhibits an addictive quality that is hard to ignore.
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