Platinum Games take on the Transformers franchise is exactly what you would expect it to be, with ridiculous over-the-top combat and plenty of explosions and special effects. You can quickly draw comparisons to their other action games, with some obvious similarities to Bayonetta that include a version of Witch time, but it comes with the added ability to turn in to a semi truck.
The plot finds five Autobots – Optimus Prime, Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Grimlock, and Sideswipe – facing off against Megatron and a bunch of classic Decepticons who are trying to cyberform Earth into a new Cybertron. Each Autobot has their own skill set and you can buy extra moves and combos to chain together in an way that would impress even Batman.
Thankfully, Platinum Games have got right the one thing every other Transformers game has failed at: Transforming. It’s an essential part of the game as some moves can only be performed when converting from vehicle to robot, and you zip about at break-neck speed when in vehicle mode, screeching round corners and performing super jumps, rather than the pondering, slow hovercrafts found in the High Moon titles.
Grimlock has to get a special mention here due to his brilliant duck-like waddle. Rather than turn him in to a sleek velociraptor, he is animated as if he is the character’s toy, so he stomps and plods around. Get him to run through a speed pad, though, and he turns in to an unstoppable headbutting machine, ploughing through everything in his path. A giant metal T-Rex waddling at 100mph across rooftops and breathing fire at oncoming fighter jets is a sight to behold, and frequently made me laugh out loud due to it’s insanity.
Whilst most of the game involves punching seven bells out of various Decepticons, you can also swap to ranged weapons and blasters. There is rather odd weapons management system in which you can reforge weapons together to make a better one, but it’s all needlessly fiddly. It would have been much better to just have one set of weapons per Autobot and have them gradually increase in power as you gain XP. You can also synthesize stat boosts via a mini game, and use temporary buffs to increase your armour and health.
The game is essentially a sequence of fighting arenas, interlinked by roads and skyways which you can race around. The canny AI has a remarkable number of attacks to keep you on your toes and even the cannon fodder Decepticons will transform and race about. Fighting a giant robot that can turn into tank and a jet plane is as challenging as it should be, forcing you to adapt you play style depending on what mode Blitzwing is in.
Punching things for hours on end would be a little boring, so there are a number of sequences which switch up the action. You might find yourself manning a turret or see the camera fly off into the sky to give you a top down view as Grimlock goes on a fetch quest. There is also an utterly joyous side-scrolling section with waddling Grimlock, which I’m hesitant to spoil.
The bright primary colours and cell shading make the game look almost identical to the 1980’s cartoons and there plenty of nods that will please the fans, including a very campy Teletran 1. Most of the original voice cast return and do a fantastic job, so that each robot is exactly how they should be, from the ever hopeful Bumblebee to the monotonous Shockwave, who I can happily report still sounds like a bored Alan Rickman. The music is a fabulous recreation of the synth rock soundtrack from the cartoon, but can sadly only feature a limp homage to the show’s original theme music.
If you are 30-something Transformers fan then I have no hesitation in recommending the game; it’s the Transformers movie you always wanted, instead of that rubbish from Michael Bay. You will be squealing with delight as the characters are revealed and there are the battles you always wanted to see, from fighting Soundwave and all of his minions at once, to an epic battle with all five Autobots facing off against the six Constructicons, and on and on.
However, non-fans may find the game a little repetitive, and it is admittedly fairly short, clocking in at around six hours from start to finish. You might also find yourself a little lost amidst the character, as the game does little to introduce them and assumes you know their personalties, although there are plenty of logs to fill in the back story. Beyond the main story mode and replaying on a higher difficulty level, there are some challenge modes, but overall the title does lack depth. The upgrade system is also rather flawed, as there aren’t enough resources to power up all the Autobots so you have to choose one or two and stick with them, rather than using all five.
How much you get from Transformers: Devastation will depend entirely on how fondly you remember the original cartoon. Non-fans will find an competent, if short, beat ’em up which is perhaps a little over priced, but die hard fans will be yelping, punching the air and reliving their childhoods by transforming in to a semi truck and chasing Ravage as he pounces across Cybertron. I loved every single second and hope it sells well enough to get the sequel teased by the end credits. This is by far the best Transformers game that has ever been made.
Version tested: PS4