You’ve Got the Touch
Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Hold on tight for the most incredible rock and roll adventure! It is the ultimate battle between Autobots and Decepticons. It is simply beyond your wildest imagination. Transformers: Devastation. More than meets the eye.
When it comes to childhood memories and nostalgia I am usually quite sceptical when video game or movie companies take them on. Whilst I loved High Moon and their Cybertron Games, I was left quite disappointed with Edge of Reality’s Rise of the Dark Spark. Platinum Games however is one of my favourite developers and I had complete faith that the creators of Bayonetta could do a Transformers game justice.
The first thing I appreciate about this Transformers game is its willingness to pay tribute to Transformer’s rich history. Rather than go all out with live action or modernised robotic forms as popularised in the recent films, we get a cell shaded Generation 1 look. The polish is simply astounding. The textures and animations appear like they have been ripped out of the original 80’s TV show and the legendary 1986 movie. Devastation nails it when it comes to presentation… for the most part. Whilst our beloved Robots in Disguise stand out their surroundings do not. Most buildings look like cut and paste jobs. Roads and highways are bland and the parks and recreation are simply lacking in detail. In contract to their mastery of nostalgia, it seems that in this case Platinum mastered the generic for the game’s environments.
There are five different Autobots to choose from. Unfortunately, you are not able to play as any Decepticons which was a disappointment. The choices consist of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Grimlock and Wheeljack. Each character comes with their own set of strengths and weaknesses that fit within their established character traits. The sheer variety is fantastic as each Autobot suites a particular playstyle. It is unfortunate that there are no playable flying Autobots, but then that probably would have drastically altered the mechanics of the game.
Optimus Prime is a heavyweight, he can deal a lot of damage, and has great defence and health yet he is quite slow when it comes to melee attacks and combo fighting. Bumblebee is a true underdog but with the heart of a soldier. His biggest strengths are his agility, and his attack range. Keeping him alive will be your hardest task however due to his low health. Sideswipe and Wheeljack are both fairly well balanced characters. They fulfil the average character archetype. The thing that set Sideswipe apart from the rest of the pack is his vehicle speed. Wheeljack has low health though not as low as Bumblebee’s, and his biggest strength is his attack range. He also has a high damage attack when it comes to melee attacks. Grimlock is a powerhouse. He deals the most damage, has the best defence and has the most health. When he’s in Dino mode he has the ability to breath fire and when he delivers his combo he can take bite out of the Decepticons. His speed is not that great, and his attack range is by far the weakest. Out of all the characters, Grimlock has the biggest learning curve.
The combo system is by far one of my favourites in any Transformers game to date. You start off by mashing out a bunch of melee attacks with your controller and to finish it off you turn into your vehicle/dinosaur for the grand finale. Repetitive as it may seem it’s actually quite fun and I never tired of seeing the theatrics. The shooting mechanics were well implemented as well. I found the ability to fire projectiles very helpful; especially when I needed to take down those pesky flying Decepticons. I absolutely loved pulling out my gun after a combo and taking down a few Decepticons on the side. Childhood dream achieved! Vehicle Mode seemed to lack depth. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the transformation mechanics. Jumping from vehicle mode to vehicle mode and back again was spectacular but there was no real use to it other than catching up to a fleeing Decepticon.
Each character has a unique ability and a special move. The unique ability can be used when one of your energy bars is full, whereas the special move requires both energy bars to be full. Both significantly influence the mechanics of the game. They make great desperation moves when you want to get out of sticky situation. Also much like Bayonetta, Devastation has a technique where if you dodge an attack with precise timing, it will slow down your opponent and you will be able to easily defeat them.
The main disappointment with Transformers: Devastation is the length of story mode. This is a game that can be finished in a very short amount of time. There are only 7 chapters. On normal difficulty it took me around 4 hours to complete. In regards to story mode, there really isn’t much to it. Decepticons are causing trouble in New York and the Autobots arrive to save the day. My biggest criticism with the game however, is the inability to switch characters on the fly. The only way to change characters is to find a teleportation pad to the Ark or by restarting the chapter from the main menu.
Back at the Ark there is a Gear Shop and Stat System. I found both needlessly complicated and there are few incentives to learn the ins and outs of the system. Synthesizing weapons seemed very complicated and confusing. I was really lost at times and I just threw anything together. You can upgrade your tech and and give yourself a few buffs. In order to get the best you have to go through a small minigame which requires some precision and a lot of luck.
The last criticism focuses on the music. For a game that focuses on the nostalgic 80’s Transformers look, it is unfortunate that it does not come translate to the soundtrack. There is simply nothing 80’s about it. Just once I would have loved to of hear the original Transformers theme, rather than this new age ambient Transformers theme. Finally, where is that Stan Bush “You’ve Got the Touch” for Optimus Prime’s heroic onslaught? I’m so heartbroken. It’s exclusion is criminal.
Now we come to the end of the road. Transformers: Devastation is an awesome action game. In terms of combat, it is one of my favourite Transformers games to date. It is quite easy to get into and you’ll have lots of fun. If you are the ultimate Transformers fan and you crave that old-school feel, then I totally recommend giving this game a go. Autobots, roll out!