by: Anthony Zangrillo
Transformers: Devastation is the totally awesome 80s game that legions of G1 fans have been clamoring for. Finally, a transformers game has mastered vehicle to robot combat, as the game allows users to transform mid-combo, resulting in combat masterpieces that are a sight to behold. Despite the campaign’s short length, challenge mode provides a plethora of reasons to roll out once again as Optimus Prime and the Autobots.
To my shock, the game completely brings players into the Transformers cartoon world. Devastation’s cartoon color palette is vivid and beautiful, invoking memories of past Saturday mornings. To complement the impressive visuals, the game blasts a powerful rock score to keep the over-the-top premise consistent. While I worry that some of these elements may turn off newcomers to the franchise, the nostalgia factor provided a gateway for me to experience an easy to learn, but astonishingly deep combat system.
Early on in the game, you will unlock five playable characters (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Sideswipe, and Wheeljack) These are not merely Autobot skins, because each character has unique abilities and play styles. Every character truly handles differently on the battlefield. With Optimus, I could sustain multiple hits at the cost of my speed. On the other end of the spectrum, Bumblebee jets past enemies dodging Decepticon attacks with ease. Out of the lot, the Dinobot Grimlock is probably my favorite as I find the robotic tyrannosaurus absurd, but hysterical with a lethal finishing maneuver.
As I mentioned previously, transformations have been seamlessly blended into the combat. This unique system keeps the stylized levels fresh and gives players the opportunity to re-think combat situations. As a result, I never felt complacent in my battles. The game constantly encouraged me to experiment with new characters by challenging me to master new techniques. Every skirmish is ranked and given a grade preventing players from spamming similar moves on enemies. In fact, button mashing will only lead to an early demise on many of the harder difficulties. Furthermore, the boss battles are true events, presenting players with enemies of epic proportions. For example, shortly into the beginning of the game, I faced off with the gargantuan Devastator. The sheer massive scope of this boss rivals a fight of epic proportions. While Devastator’s combat pattern is not revolutionary, I truly enjoyed soaring through the sky as I chained a furious combo to finish off the gargantuan robot.
Yet not everything runs smoothly. At first glance, I was utterly confused by the frustrating crafting system. Players will amass a large amount of weapons, ranging from swords to guns, but the combination of these tools is not entirely clear. As I played through the game, I began to get the hang of it, but many times I felt my infusions were the result of pure luck, resulting in more frustration than enjoyable rewards. Other than crafting, the game suffers some minor physics problems. For example, every time I jumped on top of a building, the game forced me to vault over the top, rather than naturally fall to the city streets below. Also, the lack of playable Decepticons is troubling for a Starscream aficionado (like myself), but this absence is understandable, in order to allow the developers to focus on refining combat for a smaller class of characters.
Overall, Transformers: Devastation is a high-octane game that packs a surprising punch. The intense combat, challenging missions, and high replay value combine in a rewarding experience for all gamers. Additionally, the great attention and level of detail provided to the Transformers IP will truly satisfy G1 nostalgia cravings.
Special thanks to Activision for providing a review copy!
TRANSFORMERS: Devastation is available now in North America for MSRP $49.99 on the PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows PC via Steam. It is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB.