If your memories of a Saturday morning were running downstairs and flicking the telly on to bathe your sleepy eyes in the pulsating glow, flashy lights, and booming explosions of the original Transformers, boy could Devastation be the game for you. Platinum Games, the Japanese dev team responsible for such greats as Bayonetta and Vanquish, is the studio behind Transformers Devastation. It’s a love letter to the Saturday morning classic, and it’s the probably the finest Transformers game I’ve ever played. Long suffering Transformers fans know that isn’t saying much though.
Everything you could possibly love from the TV show is here in Transformers Devastation. The hyperkinetic action. The explosive battles. Autobots vs the Decepticons. Hammy scriptwriting. Constructicons. Insecticons. It’s like Platinum Games has strung together one of those three-part episodes and let you poke your head in through the telly. Eight year old me would have wet himself by now.
If you’ve watched any Transformers you know the drill by now - the Decepticons have come to Earth to stir up some trouble, taking over a city and making it their own. Everything’s so obviously telegraphed that it’s not really a spoiler to say you’ll be working your way up against the ranks of the Decepticons, culminating in a predictable but insanely awesome finale. In fact the ending is pretty much a selling point in itself. It’ll help wipe all those terrible Mass Effect 3 memories away.
Over the course of the, admittedly short, campaign, you can step behind the wheel or into the boots of five of the Autobots - Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack and Grimlock. Each comes with a unique set of attacks and abilities with which to differentiate them, but the combat remains much the same regardless.
Combos are executed using combinations of X+Y on a gamepad, along with mid-combo transformations for extra damage. So playing as Bumblebee you swing a few punches before pressing transform at just the right time and delivering an attack as a taxi cab, before transforming back to continue your combo. There’s also a dodge mechanic which definitely needs mastering. I was rolling all over the place like I was in Drangleic, but it’s all about timing. Dodging right as your enemy is about to strike you slows down time and provides an opening to give them a good thumping.
Combat variety and depth is extremely slight compared to most of Platinum’s back catalogue. It’s Bayonetta-lite, so don’t go expecting to plough hundreds of hours into this. I felt as if I’d mastered the challenges laid out before me fairly early, and it became a case of enjoying the spectacle rather than thinking about the possibilities the combat system could offer me longer after I’d turned my PC off. Another downside is a weapon crafting and upgrade system that ultimately makes your Autobots more homogeneous rather than offering distinct abilities. Once they've all got the best sword and gun it doesn't really matter who you're playing as.
That said the Platinum magic has rubbed off, so it’s ripe for multiple playthroughs, and five difficulty levels give you the opportunity to ramp the intensity up. While the combat never gets ridiculously complex, you will need to be on your toes and keep mistakes to an absolute minimum at higher difficulties. Expect to butt your head against quite a few of the boss fights as well.
If you were ever fond of PS1 or PS2 era licensed beat-em-ups then you’ll be familiar territory for how Transformers Devastation feels. It’s a lot slicker, but the basic idea of trundling through quite sparse levels and bashing anything that gets in your way is present and correct. It’s enjoyable in it harks back to simpler times. There’s some easily ignorable collectibles but that’s about it for environmental depth, other than some basic puzzling. Once you crack through the first level it also becomes semi open-world, but the lack of anything to do in its world other than fight doesn’t do anything to tempt you off the beaten track. That’s no bad thing though, and I find Transformers Devastation was enjoyable as a brain dead action romp, with escalating set-pieces and a breezy cartoon storyline that moves along at a fair old clip.
Each of Transformers Devastation’s chapters is also replayable so you can shoot for an S rank, while there’s a challenge mode which you can probably spend hour upon hour in. To be honest these sorts of challenges are for me, but if you’re really wrapped up in the combat system and you’re the sort of person that loves Arkham’s Challenge Maps then you’re definitely like to get your money’s worth.
Visually it's absolutely spot on. There's not much detail in the levels but that's not really the point. What they've done here is aped the cartoon impeccably, and it really is a bit of a feast for eyes considering it only asks for an 8800GT. For those who've played South Park: The Stick of Truth it's a comparable effect - that feeling of actually controlling a TV show you've known for years. The setting could use a bit more variation, but other than it's faultless presentation.
As a simple, no frills beat-em-up there’s not really anything to fault Transformers Devastation, but those after greater depths may come away disappointed. This is magnified by the short running time. Transformers Devastation is slight in the extreme. I wasn’t exactly blazing through but my playthrough took roughly five hours, which is remarkably short for a £32 title. If you’re into chasing better ranks or tackling the challenge mode then I don’t hesitate to recommend Transformers Devastation, but if any of those points set off alarm bells then I’d definitely wait and pick it up in a sale. At £32 it’s okay, but at £10 it would practically be a must-buy.