Let the Good Times Roll Out
It has been a long time theory of mine that everything good that came out of the 1980s, arrived in ’84. MJ released Thriller while The Police came out with Synchronicity. Van Halen could Jump. Sony gave us compact discs while Apple came up with the Mac. We had Ghostbusters, Terminator, Knight Rider, the A-Team, and The Karate Kid. Then there were the awesome cartoons like The Transformers. While many people find that nostalgia leads to a depressing peek of how easily we used to be entertained, the nostalgia of things like revisiting the first generation of The Transformers reminds us of how much happiness this show brought us. It filled all the needs we had as kids before we grew into jaded adolescents obsessed with anti-heroes and the eventual critic that uses sarcasm as a coping device for being afraid of letting people know how we truly feel.
Activision’s goal with Transformers Devastation was to trigger that sense of what made The Transformers popular by keeping the cinematic experience true to the original, and then getting under the hood of our favorite Autobots to deliver deep game play veteran gamers need to feel like they actually participated. In the first minute of the game, you will not be able to tell you are watching the 3D engine of the game. It feels as if we are watching a cutscene from the cartoon with the classic characters. The art design and cinematography is spot on with translating The Transformers cartoon into the 3D medium. The story itself is light and simple. It preserves the storytelling techniques used in the cartoon which keeps following the Autobots’ goals easy to keep up with. The voice acting is almost up to par with the cartoon. The artistic choice to have glitchy looking menus puts you in the role as a sort of an Autobot hacker that customizes your team’s equipped weapons, augment traits at the expense of credits, and construct skill-inducing tech.
Transformers Devastation is a third-person brawler that races by. When transformed into vehicles, the Autobots zoom around using speed and ramming things as a way of breaking down barriers. Fighting in robot form uses a lot of twitch timing to avoid attacks. While the game’s action and tempo is relentless, you will welcome the opportunities for a calming visit to the Ark. This is a place where the Autobots go to regroup, build and improve items, spend in-game cash to enhance stats, and delegate weapons to your team accordingly. As you get further into the game, you will acquire more heroes. Deciding which weapons to trash in order to enhance others is an important choice you will be making. Also deciding if you want to enhance the entire team or just a single Autobot is a tough decision to make.
The game play in Devastation was handled creatively. There is a wide array of effective attacks and mechanics that game play is based upon. The fact that you have a single button that transforms, dodges incoming attacks, shifts you into a counter mode when timed correctly, and about three other things, shows that the makers were trying to keep the action simple and fluid. Each Transformer is mandated to carry a melee weapon and a ranged weapon while two more weapon slot choices are up to you to fill. This will ensure that your character is able to interact in the game whenever you need to take down a flying Decepticon or a group of Insecticons that are swarming around you. Experimenting with different weapon and Autobot configurations is fun and leads you to make your own choices for how to play the game. The weapon combination attacks always feel cool to pull off. The deep progression system keeps you invested as you see opportunities to get gear by opening chests, finding hidden items, or solving tiny mini-puzzles that lead to some loot.
While this game is the ultimate homage to your childhood robotic friends, it does have some flaws. Even though there are tons of checkpoints to prevent you from having to go back too far, some boss battles just don’t seem consistent. Sometimes you will be pouring on the damage with a certain attack pattern, then die, and when you try the same thing the next attempt-it has barely any effect. About half of your time played will be boss encounters. While you might be able to establish an understanding of their patterns, every once in a while there will be an unavoidable attack that leads to more unavoidable attacks which just feels unfair. Other times, one of your main attack sequences of charging in at maximum velocity then transforming into a punch or drop kick completely goes in the wrong direction from the direction you were pressing. Another major complaint of battling bosses is that your combination attacks are rendered useless quite often as the enemy can easily counter at will.
Sometimes, you will put the enemy into a knocked up state where you can jump after them and extend the combos a bit. So the primary concern is that when you engage in boss fights, you have to stick with what works, which might not feel that creatively handled in certain circumstances. Here comes the one definite issue we have with the game that we hope gets patched. Items you expend during a boss fight, as a prime example, are lost even if you die and go back to the previous checkpoint. While you get to keep experience and items you collected since the checkpoint, losing the items you pay currency for to help you beat tough bosses is disheartening.
Transformers Devastation is a great game if you like loot, tweaking stats, high velocity chase sequences, and brawling battles. The game is chock full of features and extras that show the source material was revered by the developers. Games like this deserve the extra time you will sink into it to complete the trophies/achievements. Building up your Autobot your way is empowering and a great compliment to what The Transformers are all about.