Anyone who knows me knew the moment this game was announced it was going to wind up in my library. After all, I didn't stick with a lot of the franchises I loved as a kid, but something about the giant robots from Cybertron always stuck with me, and to see them now take form like they did when I was little was very exciting. But at the same time, as a fan of the franchise, I have seen many bad Transformer games over the years, so I watched cautiously... until I finally saw the game played by none other then "Motherfucker" Mike of Cinemassacre. I was sold, and as soon as I finished playing SOMA, I began playing.
Story: Transformers Devastation could very neatly be described as a two or three part episode of the original 1980s Transformers cartoon packed into one game. As such, I'm afraid you will be disappointed if you expected much depth in the plot, but to sum it up, Megatron, leader of a maniacal group of giant robots called the Decepticons, found the ProudStar, an ancient Cybertronian ship, buried under the city. This ship was on a mission to "cyberform" other planets when it was lost, and it has everything necessary to make Earth another robotic world. Of course this will kill everyone and everything currently on the planet, but Megatron could care less.
Fortunately for the planet, the Autobots, lead by Optimus Prime, are hot on his heals and while they may not understand what he is doing right away, anything the Decepticons decide to do must be evil so as the defenders of Earth and the lives of those on it, they roll in to stop them. Yes, the plot really is that simple overall as basically the only developments in the entire thing consist of one of the five Autobots making up the squad figuring out something about the plot or becoming Captain Exposition like would happen in an 80s cartoon for kids.
Which is really the crux of what is here. As I stated in the beginning of the section, the whole point of this game is to emulate the feel of the old 80s cartoon many of us grew up with, and everything serves that purpose, even the really shallow plot, which means that while I can't give it a good score on it's own right, it is amazing at what it's meant to do.
Graphics: This game is the literal definition of style over raw graphical power. If you look at the game across all versions, you will see there is literally nothing this game offers with the new platforms or PC over the older ones it's on, but that doesn't mean the game looks bad. In fact, outside of close-ups with some of the characters when talking showing off how some of the bitmaps are not as high-resolution as we expect these days, this is quite possibly one of the cleanest looking games I've seen in a while!
The game itself is played from a 3rd person perspective allowing it to show off your chosen Autobot and the Decepticon hoard (or boss) you are fighting at that moment, and you will be sure to get a great view of every hit, combo, and impact you receive and give. From this view, everyone simply looks fantasitc and just about perfectly as they were in the original show. And due to how little this game needs to run, it should run smoothly on just about any machine... well, that doesn't rely on a graphic processor built into a CPU, anyway.
And simply put, if you grew up on the original show you are in for a treat as everything here is designed to recreate that vision of our giant robots you remember. And if you are into the current IDW series of comics, then you will feel even more at home, as the cell-shading involved pushes that "touched-up" image more then anything else. (The original did not have half the lighting detail the IDW comic has, even as it stays true to the original art-style.) And just about everyone is exactly as you remember them from the 80s, from Bumblebee to Megatron, almost. The only thing I could find to note here was the choice to make Megatron's alternate form a tank instead of a gun. And while I understand they wanted him to not need StarScream to transform so they could make the last fight in the game (I'm not spoiling anything here) an epic one on one clash, using the ability to change forms as part of his combos, it still stands out as the one thing from the old days this game actually got wrong.
Sound: Much like the graphics, the sound of this game is all about delivering a nostalgia-shot to the player and those watching. Everyone they could get from the original cast returns to play the roles they did some 30 years ago, and no one has forgotten their characters. In short, aside from a few specific characters like StarScream (RIP Chris Latta), everyone here sounds exactly like you remember them.
Not that the sound effects are any slouch either. From the moment you start playing, you will find yourself tranported into a world of clanking robot feet, pew-pew lasers, and the infamous "transform" sound that has been missing in many of the modern revisions of the franchise. This game just screams at you that it's still the 80s and it knows it even if you do not, at least until we get to the music.
And don't get me wrong, most of the music in this game would fit in well with the 80s show, from the synthesizer use to getting Vince DiCola to once again compose the soundtrack like he did for the original movie. It just isn't directly trying to be the old material like the rest of the sound-work so much as it's trying to be a new version of it. And this is not a bad thing. Vince is still at the top of his game, adapating some new with a lot of old, and even melding well enough to let the last fight's heavy-metal rifts stick out and highlight the "everything comes to this" moment about it even as it fits the old-school sound of it all.
Gameplay: If you have played Platinum action games, you probably have a good idea of what to expect. Transformers Devestation is generally a 3rd person action game in which you will run around the map to reach specific objectives. At which point, a challenge of some kind will be offered to you which you must complete before proceeding. In most cases, this will either be a boss or an arena fight, bringing you to the meat and potatoes of the game. These fights are fast and furious, relying on you to use at it's base, light and strong attacks in combination with rolls to dodge for melee combat, and when distance becomes a thing (as some enemies like to keep away from you) your guns also become an option with fast changes between. In addition, you will also find moves that require you to start in your vehicle mode and use it's momentum as you swing into robot mode and break through walls or shields or even just to get some extra power on impact. You will also have a super-move you can use after building up the meter in combat which varies between the five Autobots you can play.
And while this may sound simple, on it's own the game is fast enough for this to be more then entertaining, but when you get the chance to visit the Ark between chapters or in spots for this on the map, you can vary things up between buying new moves, upgrades, or even just buying/synthesizing/equipping new weapons from your inventory, changing the look and feel of combat for each weapon type via credits you pick up in the map. (I personally preferred the double-sword approach for melee.) Still, the combat can get a bit samey at times. In the entire game there are maybe four real enemy groups that all fight similar to their own group: Seekers, drones, Insecticons, or heavy troops. Now there is some slight variance within each group, but ouside of Insecticons (who have three VERY different groups) there really is not a lot of variety to be had on the enemies.
Nor will the locations help this much. Unlike most games I've played, Devestaion chooses to use the same city map for at least half of the game, having you run around the same places to find different things and different spots where the game will progress. Don't get me wrong, you will visit a few other locations, but not many. In fact, you basically will visit all of four including this city for your entire game.
Still, that is not to say it's all bad and repetative. Frankly, the combat carries the game more then enough to get away with it while playing, and the bosses break things up nicely. And the best fights are honestly saved for last, which is actually kinda shocking considering current trends of games to front load all the cool stuff and this game opening up with your first and second bosses being Devestator and Megatron respectively. This game holds no punches when it's time to face off with famous faces, and you will enjoy these fights often as the highlights of the game.
In a handful of places, however, the arena will not actually be about straightforward combat, but possibly about things like racing a Decepticon to some objective you don't want them to have or a shooting gallary as you defend a possition or even in one case a side-scrolling vehicle driving point where you need to duel with a Blitzwing, a Descepticon Triple-changer, trying to kill you on a bridge between his jet and tank modes. These are not common parts of the game and at times feel kinda random, but they do bring a little much needed variety to the table.
Bugs: This is yet another game where really I couldn't find a bug while playing. Everything was smooth as butter and absolutely perfect.
Overall: Transformers Devastation is a blatant love-letter to the 1980s cartoon series that sparked a franchise still running to this day. Every detail about it was made to cater to the feel of the old series and with a love for the material rarely found today. And to this end, I do not believe there is an old-school Transformer fan out there who should miss it. But for those not in the nostalgia market, this game is still a very solid action game that fans of the game type (and Platinum Games in particular) will enjoy, but may want to wait for a sale. The game is very short, and doesn't offer anything special you can't get from other titles Platinum released over the years unless you are already a fan of this franchise.
The only thing I have to warn anyone about on this is you really want a controller when you play. Transformers Devastation is very blatantly a port from consoles and while more then competent, the keyboard controls here are not so much designed to play well as to make sure all the buttons have a place defined. You can remap, but when you see the arrow keys are your weapon selection, I think you see pretty quickly what the developers had in mind and how much of a pain in the ass you are asking for.
Source’s Listed System Requirements:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E4400/AMD Athalon 64 2X 5600+
- 2GB RAM
- NVIDIA Geforce 8800 GT/AMD Radeon HD 3870 (either must have 512MB VRAM or more)
- Windows Vista
- Direct X9c
- 9GB hard drive space
- AMD Phenom II 6X 1100T (6 core) processor running at 3.3 Ghz
- 8GB RAM
- Nvidia Geforece 760 GTX with 2GB VRAM
- and Windows 7