[ Review ] Transformers: Devastation

This game was reviewed using a digital copy of the game available on the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 4.

Have you played a game from PlatinumGames in the past? Well, for those of you that have, look no further. You already know what to expect. Include the characters from Transformers and you’ve pretty much got an excellent idea of what to expect. Having played only a couple games from that company, myself, I was really amped when I found out that Transformers: Devastation was going to be free for October on the PlayStation Network for Plus members. What I got was kind of a mixed response: while I liked what I got, I found it was almost exactly the same experience I got with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. 

Developer: PlatinumGames
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release datesNA: October 6, 2015; EU: October 9, 2015
Genre: Action, hack and slash
Mode: Single-player

The Good

The main good part about this is that it’s a PlatinumGames game: the action is unrelenting, the voice acting is solid, the plot is true to its source material and the game progression is pretty steady, so long as you choose a skill difficulty that’s suited for your actual skill level. The attention to detail is pretty good and it’s very clear that the developers spent a lot of time absorbing old-school Transformers in order to make sure they don’t deviate from the source material too much. This means that from start to finish, you feel almost as if you’re playing a feature-length Transformers movie of old, with the same kinds of plot devices and themes that made those movies great… well, when I was much younger, anyway.

It’s starting to become apparent that the company has cleared out a niche in how it makes its games: create a solid and unrelenting high-adrenaline beat-’em-up in the vein of old-school arcade titles that I used to drain tons of quarters on as a kid. It’s hard not to be drawn to a game made this way: it’s meant to be simple and addicting and that’s kind of the way I like it. Everything is meant to give the game a simplicity and straightforwardness that means you’ll never be lost, for long, asking what to do next or how to do something.

preview_screenshot3_92501

The Bad

The main bad thing about this game is just about the same thing that makes it good: the fact that it’s a PlatinumGames game. Let me explain, a little: you see, all this has been done to death and it’s just a swap of setting, characters, and themes. It was almost identical to the beat-’em-up genre of old, as I’d mentioned before: certain companies had become iconic in creating practically the same game over and over again but with different characters and settings. Think of what Konami and Capcom did for the beat-’em-up genre and you pretty much have a good idea of what I’m talking about. While this also meant that classics like Turtles in Time were eventually created from this mess, there were also a lot of flops and saturation out there and it looks like PlatinumGames is starting to hit that point.

While a lot of people would see little at fault with this as some people believe the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, I would like to see at least a little refinement between this game and Metal Gear Rising. There feels as though there is little difference between one and the other, other than the fact that one belongs to the Metal Gear franchise and the other belongs to the Transformers franchise. I’m really glad I got this game for free but I would not pay full MSRP for the exact same game with a new coat of paint unless I was a diehard fan of the franchise being represented and even that didn’t completely hook me when they made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. While it looked and felt bad ass, it still felt and looked very much like every PlatinumGames game that came before it. It gets kind of tired.

tf_devastation_cover

The Ugly

Here’s where I get a little salty: while Metal Gear Rising had a pretty consistent theme that stayed very true to the franchise is was based in, Transformers: Devastation feels like little more than fan service once completed. There didn’t seem to be any real references to old-school episodes or movies and the music, while very cool, is not even slightly reminiscent of any single series that came before it. This feels very much like a Rampage or King of the Monsters game as the city just kind of falls apart like cardboard set pieces and the focus is primarily on the fighting characters and that is kind of something I did not expect from PlatinumGames but it didn’t entirely surprise me, either. I would have at least liked to have seen an old-school screen transition or a reference to any of the opening or title themes. Even a cheesy lead-in to “The Touch” would have been awesome because that kind of cheese was part of what made that version of Transformers so nostalgically great.

All of this being said, this game wasn’t exactly torture but I can’t play through it in long spans. It gets to be a bit tired as I’ve played this exact game to death a few times before and I’m not nearly as big a fan of Transformers as I am of Metal Gear and, as such, it feels like more of a long haul to get the references, to get to the old-school feeling that it’s clear this game is going for. It just feels like more of a forced stretch.

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