Transformers: Devastation PS4 Review
Publisher: Activison Developer: PlatinumGames Genre: Action Players: 1 Age Rating: 7+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3
Despite the toy-line having a popular 1980s cartoon as well as further cartoon series’, Transformers: Devastation, with its beautiful cel-shaded visuals, is the first Transformers game of the modern day to be clearly based on a cartoon. The main inspiration for the look of the game obviously came from the 1980s cartoon, and this, amongst other things, will surely prove to be nostalgic for long time fans of the Robots in Disguise.
More nostalgia comes in the form of the handful of playable Autobot characters, including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Sideswipe and Wheeljack whom, with the cartoon-style visuals, look exactly as you might remember them. The same can be said of the Decepticon villains that you take on in the game, as well as the iconic sound effects during the transforming animations. The use of some of the original voice actors from the TV show should also prove to be a popular decision amongst fans, which includes the likes of Peter Cullen returning as Optimus Prime, Frank Welker as Megatron and Soundwave, Dan Gilvezan as Bumblebee, Michael Bell as Sideswipe and Scrapper, and also Gregg Berger as Grimlock and Longhaul. Finally, Vince DiCola, the composer of 1986’s Transformers: The Movie was also brought on board to do the music, and the results are likeable enough.
But nostalgia can only stretch so far, and I’m happy to say that Transformers: Devastation is far more than a simple trip down Memory Lane. With PlatinumGames, one of the greatest action game developers at the helm, a striking and action packed game has been delivered. The developer has clearly taken inspiration from the likes of their very own Bayonetta series, which certainly isn’t a bad thing, as the Bayonetta games are some of the best of their kind.
The brawling is easily where the game is at its strongest. True, you don’t exactly get the vast amount of options or depth that you can find in the likes of Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising, although there’s still enough here to impress as well as to turn the opposing Decepticons into hot, smouldering metal. There’s certainly amazing mounts of fun to be had in stringing combos together on the ground and in the air and, as this is a Transformers game, it’s possible to bring a combo to an end with a transformation attack, which is just as satisfying as it sounds, with the characters switching to their famous vehicle modes. While the five playable characters don’t have unique combos, they do have some attacks of their own. Optimus Prime, for example, switches to his truck form and uses his trailer to sideswipe enemies, which is particularly useful for attacking a group of them, and Bumblebee can slide under enemies. Other unique attacks come in the form of an Ultimate move that requires a longer charging time before you are able to make use of it, although, unsurprisingly, these attacks are far more devastating and might help get you out of some tight corners from time to time.
There’s also a mechanic in the game that brings to mind the Witch Time mechanic in the Bayonetta games. Dodge out of the way of an attack at the last moment, and the action will briefly slow down, allowing you to get some extra damage in. It was a welcome feature in the Bayonetta games, and such a feature is also very welcome in the fast and smooth combat of Transformers: Devastation.
There’s also shooting in the game, although this isn’t where the focus lies and, as I said earlier, it’s in the melee combat where Transformers: Devastation is at its best. With a lack of a lock-on feature, the shooting actually feels rather clunky from time to time. I only really found myself using the shooting mechanic if I had to and, for the rest of the time, I stuck to the far more successful and satisfying melee combat. Saying all the latter, the shooting is still serviceable enough and does the job in times of need.
There’s an impressive amount of weapons on offer, including swords, axes, grenade launchers and sniper rifles, and you’ll find that certain weapons can only be equipped by certain Autobots, with heavier weapons being limited to Optimus Prime and Grimlock. Weapons can also be powered up by fusing them together, and it’s possible to create some truly devastating weaponry, which could even be called overpowered. The system in place that allows you to do this is rather confusing at first, although it’s simpler than it initially may seem.
More negatively, the environments that the game takes place in, while colourful and attractive, are, at times, rather bland and samey looking, which is more than likely due to budget constraints. This obviously becomes less of an issue when you are lost in the brawling and the explosions that the game, more frequently than not, offers up. At around 5 to 6 hours in length, the game also feels brief, with a fun but bolted on challenge mode being the only option outside of the campaign. You can go back and find all the collectibles, opt for a tougher difficulty, or play through again with Autobots that you previously didn’t use in certain sections on your first play through, although there’s still no getting away from the brevity of the game.
With its various issues, Transformers: Devastation doesn’t quite manage to live up to PlatinumGames’ best, and a bigger budget and longer sequel would be most welcome in the future. Still, while it lasts, the game is an amazing amount of fun that has beautiful visuals, lots of fast and satisfying brawling, and is also excellent fan service for Transformers fans both young and old.