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After playing War for Cybertron, I really started to get into the Transformers franchise. I grew up knowing about it, I can remember seeing commercials for at least one of the shows, but back then I just never really cared. After beating War for Cybertron, I watched the 1986 film for the first time and was not only impressed by the action but the incredibly awesome soundtrack. It’s just one excellent song after another. I then beat Fall of Cybertron and I’m planning on watching the generation one series. Despite liking the idea of watching attractive women with giant robots, mindless action, and a ton of explosions as a backdrop, I’ve stayed away from the Michael Bay films. I remembered I owned Transformers: Devastation for Xbox One. Jeremy found some new copies for five dollars a few years back and bought me one so I figured now was the time to finally play it. Developed by PlatinumGames and published by Activision, Transformers: Devastation was released for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in October, 2015. I kept hearing it was like Bayonetta but with Transforming robots.
The plot revolves around the Autobots trying to stop the Decepticons from cyberforming Earth. Millions of years ago, an Autobot ship called Proudstar captained by Nova Prime crashed on Earth. Inside is the Ferrotaxis which is a device that contains a record of Cybertron’s history and culture. With the ship in Megatron’s control, he acquires the Ferrotaxis knowing it is the only way to stop the cyberforming process and the Autobots make it their mission to retrieve it. The plot is alright but way too short and it is a good enough set up for the action-packed gameplay. It’s also accompanied by classic Transformers voice talent including Michael Bell, Gregg Berger, Dan Gilvezan, Frank Welker, and Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime.
Devastation plays out in chapters with multiple missions and side missions per chapter. There’s three difficulty modes and you can play as one of five Autobots and switch between them from the Ark. If you’ve played Bayonetta, the gameplay here will feel familiar and a bit more forgiving. You can run, jump, double-jump, perform melee attacks, utilize melee and ranged weapons, dodge, and transform into a vehicle or if playing as Grimlock, his dino form. When dodging at the right moment, you’ll enter focus where everything around you slows down for a brief time, allowing you to easily land hits on your foes. Each character has their own special and ultimate abilities that will inflict massive damage and they can carry four weapons. As you defeat enemies, you’ll gain experience and the characters’ stats will increase.
Scattered throughout the environments are what I’ll call chests, breakable objects, and Transpacial Converters which materialize things in the environments when hit. Chests and objects house items and credits which will also be dropped by fallen enemies. Green and blue energon cubes restore health and energy respectively upon pickup. Most items are stored in your inventory and can be used at any time. Some items grant you temporary benefits which makes some battles easier, auto-repair kits will restore all of your health after you die, capsules will permanently increase your character’s stats, and there’s different scanners that will temporarily increase the amount of experience and credits acquired and the rate of item drops. Among the many items that can be dropped and acquired are weapons. There’s ranged and melee weapons including different types of swords, hammers, machine guns, sniper rifles, blasters, grenade launchers, gloves, and other weaponry that can be used to defeat your foes. Weapons have their own ranks, they come with skills, and many will have elemental properties.
Entrances to the Ark can be found in the environments and you’ll also get the opportunity to visit the Ark in between chapters. From the Ark, you can change your character, equip and synthesize weapons, equip and develop T.E.C.H., buy and sell items, buy new moves, and change the difficulty. There’s not many moves you can buy and you don’t really need most of them to get through the game. Each weapon has its own stats and you can synthesize weapons to increase their rank, stats, and basically make them more powerful. You can equip each character with T.E.C.H. which are like perks. T.E.C.H. must first be developed by completing a minigame at the cost of credits. T.E.C.H. can increase your ability damage, reduce the amount of damage taken, increase your movement speed, and provide other benefits. However, each character can only equip a certain amount of T.E.C.H. but you can swap them out with others.
You can play as Optimus Prime, Sideswipe, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, and Grimlock. The roster isn’t bad but I do find it disappointing that you can’t play as any character that can fly. Each character has the same basic set of moves and the action is very fast-paced. Being able to bash baddies and then quickly switch to a ranged weapon and use it to blow them away is awesome and can feel very rewarding. You can perform combos and vehicles attacks and the fights are always non-stop until either you or the enemies are dead. The camera does often work against you, making it easy to not see crucial moments which can be a big problem due to the fast-paced nature of the gameplay. The game can be challenging at times but I never felt frustrated at any point. There is depth to the combat but you can still win fights by mashing the primary and heavy attack buttons and dodging at the right moments. If you want to earn high rankings, you’ll want to master all of the moves and dodging. The additional moves you can purchase are certainly beneficial but it’s a shame there isn’t many. I think I bought them all before reaching the halfway point. Every mission is jam packed with enemies to fight and they do come in different types. You’ll fight Decepticons, Insecticons, and even Constructicons. Many enemies can utilized ranged attacks, some fly around, some carry shields which need to be broken, and there’s always a tell when they’re about to attack so you need to keep your eye on the action at all times. You’ll have to engage several bosses, all of which will put your skills to the test. You’re scored in major battles based on your performance and the scoring system does add some replay value to game.
With the story being so short, you’re only going traverse through a few major locations and the environmental diversity is lacking. Each chapter contains numerous missions which are really just objectives. You’ll have to get to certain locations, interact with things, defeat certain enemies, and complete other similar tasks. You can find entrances to side missions which are just more objectives. There are waypoints on your radar that show you where you need to go and most of the environments are open, complete with branching paths that lead to items, collectibles, and side missions. You’ll have to do a bit of platforming, avoid some hazards, and for the most part, you can navigate around each environment freely and explore. You can run around, drive around, wind currents let you jump higher, and plasma accelerators grant you an immediate speed boost when you’re in vehicle form.
Beating the story mode does unlock the Challenge mode where you can complete numerous challenges. Many of the challenges are just battles against specific sets of enemies. Others are a bit different like the one that requires you to run through a gauntlet of enemies and get to the end in time. Some challenges have requirements like finishing within a time limit or protecting allies. You’re ranked based on your performance and the higher the ranking, the better rewards you earn. This mode is actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be. You choose a challenge and then from the Ark, you can choose your character and equip them with T.E.C.H. and weapons. Each challenge takes place in areas that resemble locations seen the campaign and you can play through each challenge on each difficulty so this mode alone has a good amount of replay value. It’s also a great way to acquire new equipment and improve your characters.
Transformers: Devastation is an amazing looking game. The cel-shaded style results in a great reflection of the G1 series. Everything is bright and colorful and the characters resemble their on-screen counterparts. The lighting is excellent, smoke, muzzle flashes, and explosions look great, and each hit looks and feels satisfying thanks to the visual effects. The action is accompanied by an awesome soundtrack with kick-ass metal tunes that play during battles. The sound effects are also excellent, complete with weapons that have a nice punch to them, screams of dying robots, and loud bangs and smashing sounds during battles. I’m also happy to report the game ran smoothly throughout my entire experience and I didn’t encounter any bugs.
I had a great time with Transformers: Devastation but I feel like it needs more. It’s a great action game which is to be expected from PlatinumGames but I think they could have done better. When compared to the Bayonetta games, I think those are of better quality, although they’re not perfect by any means, and I think more depth to the fighting in Devastation would have been welcome. More content in general, really. On the plus side, it doesn’t have any deadly quick-time events. Despite the game’s shortcomings, it is one of the better Transformers games and contains plenty of things to do with the little content that’s on offer. The replay value is high. There’s multiple difficulty modes, plenty of collectibles, you may want to try for better scores, and the challenge mode should keep you occupied for a while. I do want to give a shout out to the gallery which contains artwork and while this isn’t really a new thing in games, what you can see here is pretty neat. You can view all of the game’s character models, ranging from basic enemies to major characters, their transformations, and listen to their voices. All of the extras like the artwork and information from the logs you find should appeal to fans of the franchise. And the game includes stat tracking which as you may or may not know, I’m a huge fan of.
I would absolutely recommend Transformers: Devastation to fans of the franchise and action games. Unfortunately, like the rest of the Transformers games published by Activision, Devastation was removed from digital store fronts some time ago. I did see physical copies on eBay for under twenty bucks so you can get it for a decent price. Devastation is an excellent action game and what it lacks in content it makes up for in replay value. At least in my opinion. And the game is fun from beginning to end. Definitely check it out.