Yesterday the Next Gen exclusive release of Transformers: Devastation was released on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. As we reported early this summer, this game seemed to have flown under the radar at this past E3. Game footage that was leaked a couple of days before the expo seemed to good to be true. The cell-shaded characters looked gorgeous and was the perfect updated looked to the classic cartoon those of us in our 30’s loved as children. And the best part of this update was that is was just better quality animation. Optimus Prime is still the flat front semi we all love and Bumble Bee is a Yellow VW Bug and not a Camero, screw you Chevy and your product placement!
This game not only looks like the 80’s cartoon but sounds like it with many of the original cast back to do the voices of these beloved characters. Frank Welker as Megatron and Soundwave, David Gilvezan as Bumble Bee, Gregg Berger as Grimlock, Michael Bell as Sideswipe, and of course Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime. Sadly though, the looks and sounds of the game are the best parts.
This is by no means a bad game mind you, it’s decent, but it relies heavily on our 80’s nostalgia to keep us playing. This game is your basic 3D hack and slash similar to say Dynasty Warriors but unlike Dynasty Warriors where you can roam the whole map this game seals you off in a section until you clear either the nameless Decepticon bots who you can dispatched easily or actual Decpeticons from the show like the Constructicons (who you fight in pairs) and then at the end of Chapter One they combine to form the massive and intimidating Devistator. This battle, though extremely easy was impressive at first. Just seeing the size and scale of Devistator gives you the feeling that this battle is hopeless, but then you just hack away at his foot and dodge his attacks and the battle is over in less then two minutes.
Besides using your melee weapons (which you will use a lot) you do have your various blaster rifles for each character but they’re next to useless. You have to use them sometimes to shoot various flying Decepticons out of the air but even with the auto-aim the shooting is clunky and not a lot of fun. To put the shooting into perspective, I’m also playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain right now and going from running around to fighting to shooting is so natural and seamless it doesn’t break up the action at all, but going from melee to shooting in Transformers doesn’t feel natural at all and it pretty much leaves you vulnerable to attack while you adjust from melee to shooting.
As far as the controls, for the most part they’re pretty solid with only a couple of gripes from me. As mentioned above the shooting is a bit clunky but at least the controls are like any other game with a gun, left trigger is to aim and right trigger to shoot so that’s familiar. The melee buttons are X and Y (I played on the Xbox One). From what I can tell hitting the separate buttons doesn’t do a different attack, say like one being a heavy attack which is slower but deals more damage and the other being a light attack, quicker but not as strong. They seem pretty much the same attack. Once you get a combo going (and I use combo loosely) you can hit the RB button to do a vehicle attack which is pretty strong and comes in handy, but you literally have a split second to hit the button when prompted or else it’s wasted. The RB button is a bit of a problem in this game because it’s used for too many things and it’s an awkward button for what they want you to use it for.
Like I said the RB button is for your vehicle attack if you time it right but also the dodge button which doesn’t feel natural to press when you’re combo-ing and all of a sudden you have to dodge an attack going from X or Y to quickly press RB. It seems like they want to mimic the Arkham game series counter attacks but it isn’t as smooth nor as easily recognizable. In Arkham you see a lightning bolt over your attacker and it’s a good clue but in Transformers you just see these arrows which can be easily missed in the midst of your mindless melee attacks. Not to mention the timing seems off, you feel like you timed the dodge perfectly but you still get hit. The RB button is also how you transform from robot to vehicle but that too is done weirdly. One would think you would just have to tap the button and you’d go from robot to vehicle and back again, but no, you have to hold the button for a second or two which is weird and caused me not to transform when I wanted to. There are so many buttons on modern controllers they could have spread out the responsibilities of the RB button a bit, maybe making the dodge button A or B.
Final Verdict: The game overall is a nice effort that has areas where they can improve upon and I feel that this is a step in the right direction for this franchise. While playing it I can see why it’s only $49.99 instead of the normal $59.99 you normally pay for a new game, but still this price seems a bit high. This game feels more like an X-Box Live Arcade game that you would pay $20.00 for. The graphics are fantastic, much like South Park: Stick of Truth you feel like you’re part of an episode of the show more than playing a game. Having most of the original cast voicing their characters also gives you a great sense of nostalgia (which this game heavily relies on), one noticeable absence from the cast is Chris Latta as Starscream. Latta (who also voiced Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe) passed away in 1994. His replacement for this game Scott Whyte does an okay job but as a huge fan of Starscream I could easily tell the difference and felt they could have found someone better for this job.
Because of these short comings I have to give this game a rating of Borrow It. When it eventually drops below $20 hardcore Transformers fans like myself would probably want to pick this up, but it’s a game that is easy to play through and beat so it’s not worth the full price.