If you can remember that Transformers cartoon that aired back in the 1980s, and then got a sort of reboot in the early ’90s, you might like Transformers: Devastation. The game tries desperately to be like a cartoon, from the cartoonish voices, to the artsy graphics, to the goofy one-liners. Thankfully, however, even though it looks and sounds cartoon, it still plays like an action-packed, combo-driven video game.
The first thing that really struck me upon booting up Devastation on my PlayStation 4 was the art style. Everything looks like it might have been hand drawn, and everything is bright, colorful, and energetic. I liked it instantly. It’s a pretty far stretch from the almost dark and gloomy atmosphere being presented in the somewhat recent live-action Transformers movies, yet it goes along beautifully with the general theme of the game.
The story of Devastation follows a highly simplistic plot – Megatron and the Decepticons have found a way to harness a powerful Plasma energy, and are now bent on using it to Cyberform Earth and destroy the Autobots. It’s pretty light-hearted and basic, and at times becomes shallow and drawn-out. Things sometimes happen for no apparent reason, seemingly as a way to incorporate more action, but at the cost of the story. However, the plot is helped along by goofy dialogue and voice acting, which seems to be intentional.
It would an understatement to say that the dialogue is bad, but it’s bad in a good way. Maybe it’s because I was starting to feel nostalgic about those old cartoons, but all the awful one-liners made me laugh more than once. Like, for example, when one bot turned into an excavator, he said “I’m going to dig your graves, bots.” Yikes! But, like I said, it seems highly intentional, and it’s pretty funny to listen to.
Punch, Punch, Kick
In terms of gameplay, Transformers: Devastation is actually mildly complex. Players are able to take control of a few different characters, such as Bumblebee and Sideswipe, with each character having his own style of combat and weapons. While all combat relies on combo-driven attacks and well-timed dodges that can be followed up with hard-hitting blows, the different characters have different ways of approaching this.
For example, Bumblebee relies on his fists to pound enemy bots into oblivion, and takes advantage of the speed that gives him. His attacks are fast, and his special move involves swiftly moving behind enemies and partially stunning them. On the other hand, Optimus Prime relies on heavy, high-damage dealing melee moves with his axe. His special move involves turning into his truck form and dealing lots of damage to nearby enemies. The different Autobots can actually transform into their vehicles form whenever, providing players with a quicker way to get around. Of course, the type of vehicle is unique to each character.
Each character also has his own special move, which can be used only occasionally. This move compliments their gameplay style, and can provide much-needed support in battle. At the same time, an ultimate attack is also available, although it can only be used after building up the appropriate meter by dealing damage to enemies. This attack is also unique, and usually involves plenty of explosions and group damage. Besides the special moves and the melee attacks, players can take advantage of ranged attacks. Each character has a few different guns they can carry at one time, and they are able to deal massive amounts of damage.
Different guns and different melee weapons can be found throughout the game, and these can be swapped out when encountering certain places in the game. The weapons all are leveled, just like the Transformers themselves, but unlike the bots, who can gain experience by defeating enemies, the weapons can be upgraded by absorbing other weapons. Although there are only a handful of weapon classes, there is actually a decent amount of variety within those classes, as weapons can be found that deal environmental damages or give bonus stats to players.
Not not variety in the game modes, however. Essentially, there is only the story mode, and that’s it. There is a challenge mode, too, but that doesn’t really offer anything different than what the story mode already has, and can only be unlocked by completing chapters of the story. It would have been nice to see some multiplayer modes, arena modes, or other modes that would shake gameplay up a little it.
I also took issue with the difficulties levels in Devastation. Normally, I try to play games through on the hardest difficulty level, but with this game, that would have been impossible. It’s not that it’s incredibly hard, but more that it’s incredibly time consuming. For example, the first boss (and there are many, many bosses and mini-bosses, by the way) took me three minutes to beat on the middle difficulty level. On the hardest one, however, it took me around 10 or more minutes to beat. The boss did everything exactly the same as he did in the difficulty level below, but had a ridiculously huge bar of health, and dealt out huge amounts of damage. The gap between the two levels was gigantic, and it made the hardest level both boring and too drawn out.
However, despite the somewhat shallow story, lack of game modes, and the annoying difficult level, Transformers: Devastation is a fun, action-packed game. It’s loot system allows for the customization of characters, and it’s graphics and dialogue offers a great trip down memory lane. If you’re a big Transformers fan, then that $50 price tag should be a no-brainer; just don’t expect a good story out of it.
Review copy for Transformers: Devastation provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.