Transformers games have, it’s safe to say, been a bit of a mixed bag in recent years. While some have been reasonably enjoyable others have been shameless cash-ins on movies, which have sold reasonably well as a result of having the word “Transformers” on the front but have universally been accepted as being about as fun as being punched in the head. So with a new developer and a totally new style, Transformers Devastation takes a step back to the 80s, to the heyday of the cartoons which people my age will probably remember with great affection. It’s still not enough to make it a classic, but as Transformers games go it’s a far more worthwhile use of the name.
With the change of visual style has also come a change of game mechanics too. Gone is the emphasis on being a shooting-based game, and instead we have a more typical brawler style combat system. Mixing up normal and strong attacks with dodging and transforming gives a decent range of combos and attacks to learn, even giving the ability to transform back into the vehicles mid-combo to ram the bad guys and cause some pretty impressive damage. You’ll get to fight as several of the Autobots, and learning the best ways to attack using each robot is a very useful, if not essential, route to success. The melee combat is pretty good fun though, and fighting off multiple enemies at once feel great once you get to the grips with the hypersensitive controls and speedy pace of movement. There is an element of longer-distance shooting, but it’s not needed very often and isn’t as well put together as the close-up brawling.
There’s not a great deal of plot to follow though, so your main focus is that having smashed as many Decepticons as possible into as many pieces as possible, you move onto another area where several more get thrown at you. The city you move around in is a reasonable size, but it never really feels truly “open” thanks to all of the piles of rubble blocking various roads, and the occasional massive fans which prevent you from progressing further, effectively forcing a one-way street on you. It keeps you more or less focused on the task in hand, but that in itself probably then contributes to one of the game’s main flaws: it’s really quite short.
Clocking in at 6 or 7 hours (and that’s if you take your time) there’s not a huge amount of game to be had, and while there are a few challenges to go back to after you’re done, it’s not really enough to make you desperate to revisit it all again. If you’re a huge Transformers fan then you might want a stab at the harder difficulties (which makes the already tricky bosses incredibly tough and even longer to beat) but that aside, there’s not much else for you after the first playthrough. That’s fine if the first time round has kept you occupied for longer, but it’s hard to justify this at full price when they’re not much to do.
So whether or not you should be looking at picking up Transformers Devastation will depend entirely on whether or not you still hold the 80s cartoons in such high regard. If you’ve only been on board since the recent films, then the cell-shaded art style might end up annoying you as an unfaithful representation of the Transformers you’re aware of. Similarly if you’ve never been fussed about Transformers in any way, then there are better brawler-type games around which will also double up the enjoyment by giving you more game to play through. But if you’re in the bracket of die-hard Transformers cartoon fans, and someone who wants to take control of the likes of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime to take on the bad guys, then it might be right up your street.
Reviewed on PS4