Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Let's be honest, we haven't seen a good Transformers game in a few years. High Moon Studios did the franchise justice with Fall of Cybertron on the Xbox 360 and PS3, but all that credibility was lost when Rise of the Dark Spark failed to capitalize on that studio's absence. But leave it to Platinum Games, the makers of Bayonetta and Vanquish, to give the series the kick in the bumper it needed.
Devastation doesn't follow the routine Michael Bay route that previous games have. Instead, it reverts back to the original generation of Transformers, based more on the 80's cartoon. And it's better off for it, as Optimus Prime and his gang of Autobots attempt to foil a takeover by the Decepticons, looking to turn the planet into the next Cybertron.
Is it a perfect auto-romp? Not quite, as there are minor issues that get in the way. But the game's still worth checking out, mainly because it stays so true to its old-school content, while packing plenty of satisfying action.
More Than Meets the Eye
The first thing you'll notice about Devastation is its colorful visuals. The game perfectly recreates the cel-shaded style of the original cartoon, backed by a solid frame rate. There are times that an enemy can be difficult to target in shooting mode (mainly fast-flying jets), but overall the appearance of the characters is right on the money. The levels aren't bad either, even if they seem to be pieced together, instead of forming one big universe like the Cybertron games.
As for audio, fans will be in love. Peter Cullen voices Optimus Prime to perfection, and the other voice actors are game as well, bringing both the Autobots and Decepticons to faithful life. For that matter, the music is good too, with plenty of rock ballads playing in the background to keep you in a fast-moving state of mind.
There are times the action can go a little too fast (like racing levels where you go through booster after booster), but overall, this is a swell-looking product – way better than whatever Rise of the Dark Spark is, anyway.
The combat system in Devastation is, for the lack of a better word, frantic. You'll be chaining together small and large hits while attacking enemies, and then using a ramming technique in vehicular mode to deliver a more powerful blow. It's a wild system, but one you'll get used to in no time, as you chain together attacks and look completely bad-ass while you're doing it.
There are times you can transform into a vehicle as well, racing through levels or pursuing renegade Decepticons when the situation calls for it. This has a superb charging attack, which you'll need to use to get through shielded enemies anyway. Practice makes perfect – you'll need some good running space to execute this attack – but it pays off when you're trying to plow through numerous enemies.
Overall, the combat system meshes well, and the focus attacks, working very similarly to Bayonetta's, introduces a fun defensive technique that, once nailed down, really gives you the advantage, no matter what character you're playing as. And kudos to Platinum for including Grimlock in this melee party, even though he does take some getting used to as far as his transformation abilities go.
Short But Sweet
The big downside with Devastation is that it's too short. We plowed through the game in a matter of hours, even though there are difficulty settings available if you feel like rising to the challenge. Still, it's an entertaining ride while it lasts when it comes to story – even if the way it's told isn't quite up to par with the TV series. Hey, it's close enough.
There is a Challenge Mode that you can take on, where you can complete tasks for the highest grade possible and maybe even unlock some loot in the process as well, in the form of weapons that you can add to your collection. While some weapons have similar effect, you can really get some mileage out of them by synchronizing and making them even more powerful. It pays to loot here.