Transformers Devastation is a strange game, on one hand it is a love letter to the original series of Transformers cartoons, complete with the right voices but on the other hand it does not play like you would expect it to.
Transformers Devastation is set during the Generation One phase, classic characters are present and the story itself plays out, just as an episode of the cartoon might. A peaceful day is interrupted when giant robotic claws spring forth from beneath the earth and start destroying and changing the city. Megatron seeks to harness this power to fulfil his goal of remaking Cybertron, Optimus Prime and the Autobots leap into battle to protect the humans and earth from this latest threat. It is shown early on though that Megatron is not the grand architect of this plan and when he submits and goes along with it, it is easy to understand, he seeks to restore Cybertron and the machine looks like his way to do it.
The machine itself is the Proudstar, a long lost Autobot ship that was sent out into the far reaches of space with a lone Autobot, Nova Prime whose was on a mission to find a new planet that could be claimed to rebuilt Cybertron, with the condition that the planet be uninhabited. Along the way something attacked Nova Prime and corrupted him, causing the ship to crash onto earth and falling to the ravages of time, until it is awoken in the modern day. The ship is a blessing and a curse as it contains a computer known as the Ferrotaxis, which holds all of the culture of the Cybertronians, but is also controlling the cyberforming of the Earth, so the Autobots need to decide what to do, but before they can stop it, events work against them and things just get harder and harder. The story follows a very predictable path, there are no real surprises to be found, in fact I felt the story was constructed in a way so that the common Autobots and Decepticons could be given their time in the spotlight.
The game, if you were not aware plays out as a brawler, but seeing as its developer is Platinum Games, that should come as no surprise, they are the masters of that genre and here it works well. When you start the game, you are placed in control of the various Autobots to learn how they each handle, but after the first few missions, you can take control of the one you want, the downside to this is that Grimlock is the last available to select and by the time you are able to, your other characters will be stronger. Because as you play as a character, they gain experience, which will increase their base stats, so you’re better off to stick with the one character for the length of the game.
As you make your way through the missions and defeat enemies, you will pick up credits along with weapon schematics and more, this allows you to craft new weapons and also new buffs for your character. If you find that you’re not dealing enough damage, you can swap out weapons or upgrade, but doing so requires you to give up one weapon of the same type, so there is a balance needed. Buff’s are actually created by spending the credits you collect in the world, there are two levels and the chances are random, so you can end up with something awesome, or something you won’ ever use. The best buff I had created improved the speed of the actual Transformation, which allowed me to get into and out of vehicle mode faster. Speaking of, vehicle mode is something that is used sparingly, apart from when used in combination attacks, there are very few times when you can sit in vehicle mode for a while and when you do, you will spend more time attacking with the guns. Overall the gameplay is solid, the combat offers up a range of combo attacks and when you connect with a hit it feels satisfying, the problem is that is just does not match up with anything we have seen from the Transformers to this point.
One area that the game shines in though is its presentation, the game has a cel shaded look that replicates that of the cartoon from the 80’s, both the Autobots and Decepticons look like they should, seeing Starscream standing next to Megatron looking like he did all those years ago is a treat, but the icing on the cake is the voices. Peter Cullen returned to voicing Optimus Prime for a number of years now, since the first Hollywood movie, but hearing Frank Welker back as Megatron as he banters back and forth with Optimus is a blast of nostalgia that is always welcome. There is a host of other actors back reprising their roles, some for the first time since the cartoon, so having Bumblebee sound the way I remember was awesome. The only real blemish is that the environments repeat often, the number of times you will move through the same city scene is far too often.
Transformers Devastation is a game with two fronts, the nostalgia driven experience and the brawler one, while they don’t match perfectly, each element does deliver and the result is a fun game that fans of the Transformers will enjoy.
Thanks to Activision for supplying the game for review.