|System: PS4, Xbox One*, PS3, Xbox 360, PC|
|Release: October 6, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i||Fantasy Violence|
by Sean Engemann
If you are one of the many Transformers fans who are disgusted by the direction the franchise has taken of late, both in the movies and video games, than simply catching a glimpse of artwork from the lightly advertised beat 'em up title from Bayonetta developer PlatinumGames is enough to put you back into your 1980's jammies and turn your attic upside down looking for your old Transformers toys. Transformers: Devastation is easily one of the most faithful recreations of a bygone cartoon style in a modern video game, right down to the original voice actors, the guitar riffed music, even the cheesy one-liners you just don't see in today's Saturday morning cartoons. It is a shame that the memory ends so quickly though, and the game doesn't express itself in more varied locales.
By short, I mean really short, as in roughly five hours to finish the campaign. And by lacking varied locales I mean about eighty percent of Transformers: Devastation is squeezing through narrow alleyways of a downtown metropolis which open into arena style town centers where your combat muscles can flex. The replayability comes from the fifty challenge missions that rank your score, as well as experience and loot which is retained for use in the Story Mode. Also, after completing the game on one of the three initial difficulty levels, two more are unlocked that shake up the enemy composition throughout the replay, a welcome change to the customary, "let's just give the same enemies more hit points" approach used in nearly every other game.
The story is the standard Transformers fare, with Megatron and his Deceptacons wreaking havoc on the world to further their end goal of total domination. Instead of a massive resistance against this threat, you command Optimus Prime and a quartet of Autobots. The cast list is slim, sadly, and each character uses the same basic attack combinations. Variety comes in the form of one Unique Ability, such as Wheeljack's energy shield, and one Ultimate Attack, like Sideswipe's flurry of rocket launcher attacks. Each character varies in heft and maneuverability - Bumblebee can zip to and fro between enemies, whereas Grimlock crushes through an enemy swarm with each massive step. Different weapons, both melee and ranged, spice up the combat action. It's interesting to wield various swords, hammers, and sniper rifles. Though carefully sorting through each piece to retain the most beneficial ones for a mission is hardly a necessary step, the game makes it the most convoluted process.
This chore occurs back at the home base, called the Ark, where the inventory of items showcases different statistics, elements, and buffs. Weapons can be synthesized with other weapons to improve their power, yet micromanaging the process and searching for the right combinations is an intensive manual labor that could have easily been streamlined, allowing you to spend less time looking at numbers and more time busting some Deceptacons. You can also spend some easily earned credits to improve the ability scores of each Autobot, or manufacture T.E.C.H. accessories for extra buffs via a simple mini-game. For all the time spent tweaking statistics, you'll nary notice a difference in the heat of battle.
When it comes to combat, my earlier reference to Bayonetta was intentional, as the flow of battle in Transformers: Devastation is a near carbon copy, sans the angels, demons, and partial nudity. The basic sequence involves a combination of light and heavy attacks, with prompts to transform into your vehicle for an extra heavy pummel. Defying gravity to unleash a chain of mid-air attacks, then slamming your vehicle form to the ground below, is a glorious sight. Fiddling with different button inputs, memorizing a string of attacks, and using them in the proper situation is the key to advanced tactics and a requirement on higher difficulties. Dodging an enemy attack at the last moment sends the game into a time slowing focus, exactly like Witch Time in Bayonetta, granting a few extra swipes on enemies before the normal speed resumes. The fast-paced action, varied enemy types, and cinematic boss battles get the adrenaline pumping every time, making the breaks in between where you weave through energy beams and smash down barriers a sluggish affair. A few nooks off the linear path yield some collectibles and loot, which is all well for any completionists out there, but there's no denying the drop in pulse when not engaged in combat.