Transformers: Devastation PS4 Review
The title screen zooms in to view, suspended in space. The metallic guitars screech approval, the giant embossed lettering slams in to your face and that familiar voice, the same voice that soundtracked the weekends of so many childhoods, reassuringly confirms that you have in fact purchased a copy of “Transformers: Devastation“, not one of those Bay-inspired recent tie-ins. This is the Transformers game the fans have been waiting for, and not without reason. Since the game debuted at E3 fans have been foaming for a chance to play a game that looks and feels like the beloved original cartoon, a game that puts them inside the original cartoon. If that’s what you’re after, Transformers: Devastation does not disappoint. Fast, frantic, undeniably short but with pleanty of cheap replayability, this game is the Saturday morning of your youth in videogame form.
It definitely looks the part. Vivid and colourful, the cel-shaded look works perfectly to create the appearance of a cartoon in full 3D. The frame rate never lets up, the effects are satisfyingly explosive, and the camera has a startling knack of keeping track of it all. Tellingly, even when you are lost behind a piece of scenery, the characteristically precision-drilled combat of a Platinum game means that so long as you keep your combo timing and remember your moves, you’re rarely in any real danger until the camera swings back in to the fray a moment later. Given the sheer volume of action on-screen, camera deficiencies are surprisingly infrequent.
The soundtrack is in collaboration with Vince DiCola, famous for the original movie. Much like the graphics it is a perfect, time-warping testament to why we’re here in the first place, with OTT guitar solos, cacophonies of metal, and bursts of symphonic majesty. It’s cheesy as hell and damn proud of it. Many original voice actors also return, adding to the nostalgia, and all of them do a good job reprising their old roles.
Gameplay proceeds in much the same manner you’d expect from a classic Platinum title. There are combat ‘zones’, some optional some mandatory, where your hack ‘n’ slash reflexes will be put to the test on a fairly forgiving but still challenging difficulty curve. After each battle, a la Bayonetta, you will be graded on your speed, damage inflicted and skills displayed. This is one pivot of the game’s replayability. The combat desires to be so smooth and flowing that you are shamed by your mistakes, and will go back for a perfect run next time around. Between these zones there is exploration around the game’s environments (cities, tunnels, alien crafts, even Cybertron itself). Environments with the exception of the city are very linear, but given at least half of the game takes place in the city, there’s time to be spent uncovering secrets, and thus a little more longevity to the game. There are also sub-missions, a la Bayonetta, where objectives are usually combat-based. Transforming, achieved with a flick of a button, grants extra moves in combat via combo finishers and more, and allows you to traverse otherwise impassable environments with ease during exploration. All-in-all, the gameplay is consistently satisfying and defiantly unremarkable. Platinum gameplay isn’t broke, and Transformers: Devastation certainly doesn’t try to fix it.
Each character is upgradeable with currency earned from combat and destruction of the environment. Keep on top of these upgrades or you may find yourself getting diced by Decepticons later. Weapons are similarly earned from combat, or housed in destructible items and containers, with a wide variety of swords, gauntlets, axes, machine guns, plasma cannons and more. Each is also upgradeable, achieved via synthesis with the slew of unwanted weapons earned alongside them. Oddly, the synthesis feature reminded me of the JRPG Akiba’s Trip, where the protagonist’s little sister is capable of upgrading your preferred items by ‘sticking things on to other things’. It really is no more sophisticated or sensible than that, and all the better for it.
There’s a wide Autobot roster, and the game can be played in its entirety as any of them (though they must first be unlocked via story events in the main game). If you’re a trophy or achievement freak, they’re distributed in such a way that you must complete the game at varying difficulties, and with each character, to earn full completion. Combine this with the natural desire to compliment the game with a skillful display in battle, plus the various sub-missions and collectibles, and there’s more than enough here to justify the budget price-tag.
Transformers: Devastation isn’t perfect, but many criticisms are obvious and inherent to the genre, or what the game could ever be. The story itself is not RPG-length, certain fan favorites are omitted from the cast, the combat, though theoretically deep with a plethora of combos and weapons, is in practice no Bloodborne, and the environments can get repetitive even over the short duration from beginning to end. No matter. This is unquestionably the best Transformers game ever, a game to satisfy a yearning fanbase, a game instantly accessible for any non-affiliate who simply wants a good hack ‘n’ slash, and a sufficient platform on which to build a series. Make it happen, Platinum.