Review of Transformers: Devastation

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Transformers: Devastation is a third person brawler based on my favourite animated series from the nineteen eighties (in your face Thundercats and G.I Joe!) Back when I was a youngster I was a huge fan of the Transformers cartoon and the toy line it was based off. Although I was never brainy enough to solve a Rubix Cube, I could at least impress relatives by sussing out how to change my robotic birthday gifts into miniature cars. These days I am an old fogey, with thirty-five birthdays under my belt, but my passion for Transformers remains strong. It should therefore come as no surprise that I snapped up Devastation shortly after it appeared on the PSN Store. Let’s hope the Platinum Games developed PS4 title doesn’t end up raping my childhood… much like Michael Bay did with his god-awful movies.

OVERVIEW

The evil Decepticons are once again up to no good. Megatron has acquired the means to terraform Earth into a Death Star like mechanical planet, which just won’t do as humanity is already doing a swell enough job of destroying the globe. Thankfully for mankind five heroic Autobots (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Grimlock and Wheeljack) are rolling out to foil the unsanctioned planetary redecoration. Wait a sec… five Autobots? Why so few? Megatron has an army of warriors under his command. Where are the likes of Jazz, Ironhide and Prowl? Oh yeah, I forgot. It’s Cliffjumper’s birthday so the rest of the Cybertron crew are off celebrating at a strip club, watching Arcee pole dance.

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, Transformers: Devastation is a third person fighting game were players turn Decepticons into scrap metal by utilizing their steel lined fists. The combat system reminds me a little of Senran Kagura, only that this title replaces the boobs with bots. Aside from melee conflict players are also able to attack enemies from afar by equipping projectile weapons. Fisticuffs are more effective than guns, but the blasters do at least help in downing aerial adversaries. Even on the easiest difficulty button bashing will only get you so far. In order to triumph over Megatron’s forces players will need to hone in on their combo skills. Counter attacks are an effective strategy as evading an enemy strike triggers a “bullet time” effect, which temporarily slows down all enemies in the vicinity. Use this time wisely to wail on your decelerated foes – just like Neo taught us.

It’s good to see that Platinum Games didn’t neglect the transforming aspect the titular droids are renowned for. Shifting from a clunking bipedal bot to a speedy vehicle comes in handy for traversing the levels and is mandatory for zooming past the gigantic turbines that block certain routes. Adopting the guise of a car also allows the Autobots to ram into enemies, which is invaluable for shattering the energy barriers some cowardly Decepticons cower behind. When it comes to transforming I must say that Grimlock drew the short straw. Being able to morph into a dinosaur may sound cool, but he looks ever so silly wobbling behind his chums who all transform into swifter wheeled automobiles. I wouldn’t tell Grimlock that he looks daft to his face though. That one time when I tangled with Mecha Godzilla has taught me never to upset a metal T-Rex.

VERDICT

My rating for Transformers: Devastation is four stars. If you grew up watching the original Transformers show I am sure you will love this game. Devastation isn’t perfect however. The lacklustre environments are limited to cityscapes and futuristic bases, which left me longing for more varied backdrops to explore. The roster of five playable characters is also a tad disappointing. Even if Platinum Games didn’t have the budget to make more Autobots I would have liked to see an option to unlock control of the numerous Decepticons who appear in the story. Devastation’s biggest flaw is without a doubt its length. The main campaign can be completed in six hours, which makes the title feel over priced. If you are not the type of person who replays games, or likes to tackle optional challenges, paying full price for Devastation may feel almost as wasteful as buying a Gobots DVD.

Even if Transformers: Devastation climaxes way to soon (no comment on it mirroring my bedroom escapades) I still think it is worth picking up. The fast paced combat is a lot of fun and if cost is a factor you always have the option of waiting for a sale. On the visual side of things the cell-shaded graphics succeed in making the game feel like a 3D version of the cartoon. Adding to the title’s nostalgic qualities is the voice cast, which includes many of the original show’s actors. The only notable omission from the credits is the departed Chris Latta (best known for playing Starscream and Cobra Commander.) Much like Ducktales, Transformers: Devastation proves that eighties cartoons can be adapted into successful games. I wonder what series from yesteryear will get the gaming treatment next? Visionaires? Centurions? Maybe the Jurassic Park craze will lead to Denver the Last Dinosaur making a return.