When Transformers: Devastation was officially revealed during E3 this year, it practically came out of nowhere, with little expectation.  Perhaps after the poor showing of the previous Transformers title; Rise of the Dark Spark, Activision wanted to play it safe with their next outing.  But as the trailers for Transformers: Devastation came thick and fast, expectations were heighted by not only by the fact that its seemingly lush visuals are inspired by the classic G1 from the 1980’s, but also with the fact that the title would be developed by Hack ‘n’ Slash experts, Platinum Games.

The storyline to Devastation is a simple process, which complements its ‘pick up and play’ accessibility.  Megatron is on a warpath as he, with his fellow Decepticons wish to take over Planet Earth at the expense of us Earthlings and to do so, he must harness the power of the plasma energy from planet Cybertron.  But thankfully we have the Autobots led by Optimus Prime to fight the good fight and save Earth once more.  Devastation allows you to assume control of five Autobots in total, including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Sideswipe and Wheeljack.  If you’re familiar with Platinum Games, then you will know what to expect here in terms of gameplay.

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With the Transformers heritage coming from Japan and with the style of gameplay that Platinum are known for, the franchise/developer pairing is a match made in nostalgic heaven.  Some might criticise Devastation for playing to simply, but that is all part of the games appeal and is certainly what Platinum are known for.  It’s the kind of game you might play on a Sunday afternoon, nothing too complicated, just something to pick up and play, the videogame equivalent to your typical easy watching popcorn movie if you will.  Of course a Transformers title won’t be complete without the ability to transform, and it’s done in Devastation with minimum ease, via a simple press of the R1 button (on PlayStation).

When you’re not hacking and slashing your way through Decepticon scum, you can run them down in vehicle form or charging through them when in control of Dinobot Grimlock.  Though you’ll be mistaken if you can just button-mash your way through all enemies, because perfectly timed counters are of the upmost importance and extra satisfying damage can be dealt when you unleash a special attack.  Each Autobot will have their own specialised attacks and weapons, and there are a ton of weapons to acquire and upgrade through the Ark.  At the end of each stage you’ll also be graded a final score based upon your performance and with the fairly large map within the game being somewhat open-world (or sandbox-like), it might be easy to miss a few key battles along the way, which will affect your final score.  But you can revisit any stage to replay any missed chapters/encounters that you may have missed to improve your overall score.

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Now I know graphics are not everything, but they do play a huge role in any game, Unreal Engine 5 or 8-bit Shovel Knight.  The visuals gives you an instinctive first impression and there’s a popular saying about first impressions having a latest affect, and retro fans will no doubt fall in love with Transformers: Devastation that very moment eyes are laid upon it.  Cell-shaded visuals do not always do a game justice and it can quite frankly put some off from the off-set, I only have to think of the overreaction for Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker when it launched for the Nintendo Gamecube.  But I can’t think of a game that suites cell-shaded quite as well as Devastation.  The game just looks so damn gorgeous, almost as if it has been ripped straight out from G1 Transformers.

Even when you load up the game and you first visit the main menu, the screen has a filter that gives you an impression that you’re watching via a TV from the 1980’s.  You can just tell that Platinum Games have given Transformers: Devastation so much love and attention, it’s clear that they are Transformer fans just as much as we are.  To add to the nostalgia, Transformer voice-actor veterans reprise their roles with Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, Frank Welker as Megatron and Soundwave, David Gilvezan as Bumblebee and more.  Any Transformer game simply wouldn’t be the same without such an iconic cast and even after all these years, their passion and love for the franchise continues to shine on through their work.

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Once the campaign of Devastation is done with, there’s not a great incentive to return, unless of course you really, really love this game and you want to beat previous chapter scores.  However, there is a Challenge Mode, which unfortunately is only a compilation of your battles throughout the campaign as you attempt to gain the best score possible (separated from the campaign battles).  By taking on the challenges, depending on your performance, you will unlock gadgets to be used in the main campaign.

Aside from that, Devastation does lack fundamental replayability, which is why perhaps it’s selling at a lower RRP (it would have be easy and greedy of Activision to charge an inflated price).  I can’t help but think that if Devastation had some form of multiplayer, even with a generic wave-based mode, with a greater selection of Transformers to choose from, this could have been a game that may have had you playing for a few more months at least.  Hopefully we’ll see these improvements should Activision and Platinum Games make a sequel.

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If I was going to have one criticism with Transformers: Devastation, it is that it can get a little repetitive at times, which in away also benefits its somewhat short campaign length.  Ok the gameplay might not be quite as in-depth as some others, but you kind of expect that from this genre.  Though I wouldn’t say that the combat is the main issue, because it can be immensely fun over short bursts.  I would say however is that the level design can get a little repetitive than anything else.  While Devastation may not be the lengthiest of games, the opening section in the city can drag on a little (which you’ll also visit again during the campaign), because it mostly consists of copy and paste buildings.  Despite this minor critique, Devastation is a game that has more than exceeded my expectations and that is fantastic.

I love The War and Fall of Cybertron games, while they weren’t the most technically gifted games, much like Transformers: Devastation, they’re a lot of fun and isn’t that we really want from a game?  As long as you don’t go expecting anything anywhere near Game of the Year material and as long as you pay a fair price, Transformers: Devastation is a must own game for any fan of the franchise, regardless of your generation.  To amend a quote from Optimus Prime’s successor Ultra Magnus, not only is Transformers: Devastation a fun pick up and play Hack ‘n’ Slash, but I doubt you’ve ever seen anything this beautiful in the entire galaxy.  Autobots, transform and roll-out!


Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake