Developer: Platinum Games
ESRB Rating: T for teen
Reviewed on Xbox One, also available for Xbox 360, PS4, and PS3
A review copy of the game was provided gratis by Activision to facilitate this review.
Transformers: Devastation is simultaneously the best and worst game I have played in a very long time. This might sound like I am conflicted, but I’m really not. These aren’t two forces pulling in separate directions and threatening to tear my enjoyment apart like an old axle. No. Instead these are two opposite forces that held me suspended in a warm pool of 80s nostalgia for every minute that I played this game. It was glorious and heart wrenchingly bad in equal parts; a perfect expression of the 80s.
Let me make one, rather large, disclosure before I get going on this review. I am one of the bigger Transformers fans on Earth. In fact, my love of Transformers has influenced my love of all things mecha. If it is a giant robot, then you can bet that I will love it. Some people might read that and question if I am the right man for the job. How could my Transformers bias not get in the way of a fair review?
That’s a good question, and this is the best answer I can give you: Transformers: Devastation was made for superfans. Every decision that Platinum Games made was laser focused on exciting people like me and making us buy this game and play it. The “average consumer” might not necessarily be drawn to this game in the same way. This makes me the perfect reviewer because, to be frank, I don’t know to many other people who would find value in this game other than the super fans.
At its core, Transformers: Devastation is a stylish action game in the vein of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. The difference here is that instead of over the top gore and violence Transformers expresses that action using cartoon robots battling each other in melee combat. There are guns involved, but they are largely an afterthought. Instead, we spend our time fighting using swords, axes, hammers and fists and forming interesting combos that can be extended by using a simple button press to transform into vehicle mode and crash into the enemy.
The game is, basically, an episode of the 80’s cartoon show extended and put into video game form. This includes things like several of the original voice actors, the original animation style, and even sound track beats that were reminiscent of the series. Saying that something is a “love letter” to fans is a rotten cliche but it works here. Playing this game turned me from a man in my mid thirties to an 8 year old in my pajamas watching Saturday morning cartoons.
This has all been glowing right? Where are the bad parts? What made it the worst game I had played in a while? Well, here they are. I am going to be short and to the point about them because if you are a superfan (like me) then they probably won’t matter).
- Difficulty – Some of the boss fights are mind numbingly difficult. This can be overcome by setting the difficulty lower, but when your third boss is Devastator you don’t really have much to do other than make it hard.
- Inventory Management? – The fact that the game has an inventory management system at all is a mystery, but it is very arcane. You get used to it after a while, but I can’t help but wish they left it out
- Repetition – Some of the environments are reused ad nauseum. Granted, I didn’t notice much because I was too busy enjoying punching robots.
- Short story – I am not criticizing the quality of the narrative. Its an episode of Transformers so I don’t expect much. With that said, I DO have something to say about the length of the game. I finished the story in about 7 hours or so. If you are someone that wants to replay sections to get higher scores, then it would extend the game. But, there just wasn’t enough time spent punching robots.
Family Gaming Assessment
This is an action game that involved melee combat and guns. With that said, the combat is 100% robot on robot. The city that the games takes place in has been “evacuated” so there aren’t any people at all.
If you would let your kids watch an episode of Transformers on TV then this will be more than fine.
The action in Transformers: Devastation is all based on time button presses being used to form combos. This rewards skilled players who can have command over the different buttons on the controller. You can just press one or two buttons though so “button mashing” on lower difficulty levels will work.
Some of the bosses are very difficult, but the checkpoint system is generous. If you or your child are easily frustrated though, then this is something to pay attention to.
If you are a Superfan then this is a must buy. Stop whatever you are doing and go buy the game right now.
If you are not? Then this is a game to look forward to if you really enjoy stylish action games like Bayonetta. Otherwise you can skip it without really missing anything.