Transformers Devastation may be linear, repetitive, and not have a plethora of replay value included but what it lacks it more than makes up for in its fan service for G1 fans. Devastation offers amazing visuals, the original voice cast, an enjoyable combat system, and frequent boss battles. If you're an old school G1 fan it's the greatest looking Transformers game you've ever seen and feels like it was taken directly from an '80s morning cartoon.
+Greatest looking Transformers game ever
+Original voice acting cast
+Frequent and entertaining boss battles
-Very short campaign-
The Touch by Stan Bush nor the classic TV theme song is included
-No playable Decepticons
The moment Transformers Devastation was announced, I was all in. The kid in me that grew up with the TV series back in the '80s squealed and it seemed like I was actually going to get the G1 Transformers game I've always dreamt of. Nostalgia is a funny thing though, as you tend to remember things very fondly regardless of how they actually were, so I came in slightly skeptical and tried to keep my expectations manageable as I didn't want to be too let down just in case.
Thankfully, I was spared the injustice of another game using a franchise's fame and popularity and not delivering. Devastation is easily the most gorgeous Transformers looking game to date (sorry War for Cybertron) as it's cel-shaded, immensely colorful, and simply looks as if it's an animated show you'd see on TV today. If the original '80s cartoon was modern and inspired by anime, Devastation is the end result. Top it off with fantastic animations, sounds, and even the original voice actors for Optimus (Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Frank Welker), and you start to have something special for the G1 fans out there.
Even the story plays out like an original Saturday morning cartoon I used to watch so many years ago. Megatron is attempting to cyberform Earth which will result in everything on the planet dying for his own gain. There's nothing drastically special about the narrative itself though it does feel as if it was directly ripped from a long lost G1 episode which is fantastic. It's the bad guys versus the good guys with lots of high and low points from beginning to end. It's entertaining, even more so for the original fans like myself.
You begin Devastation as Autobot leader Optimus Prime, eventually gaining control of Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and even Grimlock as you progress through the story. Each of the characters vary slightly from one another, as Optimus and Grimlock are immensely powerful but are much slower than the more agile Bumblebee and Wheeljack. Each Autobot has a slightly different repertoire of moves, also based on your currently equipped weapons, allowing for different playstyles based on your combat preferences. While each Autobot isn't drastically different from one another, it's more than a simple palette swap and they each do feel unique in their own way.
Developed by Platinum Games, known for their action and combat based titles, combat does become quite fun and strategic, eventually that is. While the combat mechanics may not be quite as deep as some of their previous games, there's clearly been some borrowing from previous titles, as a well-timed dodge will slow down time for a short period ala Witch Time from Bayonetta, permitting you to sneak in a few additional attacks. Chain together a combo chain and you'll get to also use a vehicle transform attack, accompanied with the classic transforming sound, slamming your Autobot's vehicle into the Decepticon for an extra hit and finisher provided you can get the timing right.
Your main offence is with the heavy and light attacks which can make numerous types of combos based on the order pressed. There are also ranged attacks, while not as powerful, is mainly used to sneak in a few extra hits or force a flying Decepticon to land so you can attack them. You have very limited ammo with your ranged weapons, so they are usually not used very often even though you can search for refills and I eventually stopped using ranged attacks all together unless explicitly needed. Part of the issue was that there's no lock-on system in Devastation, and while you do get a quick auto-aim assist, it doesn't help much versus the fast airborne Decepticons.
As you progress further in your chase to Megatron, you'll encounter new enemies that will require specific strategies to overcome. Some enemies are airborne, as noted above, while others have shields that need a vehicle or charge attack to break though. Eventually you'll face all types of enemies at once, requiring you to be on top of your game and making liberal use of the dodge and parry mechanics if you want to survive. While never terribly unfair, there are moments where you'll need to pause the game to go into your inventory and use a health repair and other items to survive battles, making for rewarding moments when you finally do overcome multiple Constructicons attacking you simultaneously.
While the majority of Devastation is very linear, having you going from point A to B with battles at each pit stop, there are a few sections where the monotony is broken up with some unique segments. There are sections where you'll have to carry red energon through the city, vehicle chase sections, and even an unexpected 2D-like side scrolling segment. While not all are as fun as the standard gameplay, at least some effort was taken to break things up slightly in between.
Fallen Decepticons drop loot that can be acquired by simple walking or driving over the surrounding area, most of which is either currency or sometimes even weapons which can be equipped and upgraded in the unexpected crafting system. You'll eventually start to amass quite a large collection of lower grade weapons, thankfully these can either be sold for credits or used to level up your more powerful weapons to make them even stronger.
The crafting system is very convoluted and not explained very well but can prove invaluable once you figure it out and wrap your head around how it works, as I now have a massively powerful hammer that allows Optimus to practically one-shot any non-boss Decepticon. There are even perks that can be crafted and equipped by spending your credits via a quick skill minigame, allowing for further customization of your preferred Autobot of choice. You can even spend credits to help further your base stats quicker, so you'll constantly be short on enough credits to do everything at once.
While it is fun to bounce from Autobot to Autobot in different levels, you're much better off sticking to your preferred character, as you progress with each separately from one another. Which means the more time you invest into one specific character, the more powerful they become over time. Sadly the campaign is quite short, especially if you're trying to just get through it quickly for another play through, lasting roughly 5-6 hours depending on difficulty level and your combat prowess. While there is some replay value since all of your character's progress and weapons carry over into subsequent playthroughs, and there are side quests and challenges, it's simply not compelling enough for long term play.
While Transformers Devastation may be short, repetitive, and lack depth in the long run, it's incredibly fun once you get skilled with the combat mechanics and is simply joyful to look at in action. There are frequent boss fights and it never gets old going up against a massive Devastator or versus some of your favorite Decepticons like Starscream or Soundwave.
While there has been other good looking Transformers games, no other has truly captured that special essence from G1 quite like Devastation, be it the cheesy Saturday morning cartoon narrative, amazing voice acting (seriously, Peter Cullen will make you constantly grin if you're an avid Optimus fan), or astounding art style that truly looks like it was taken from the original cartoon and modernized. The combat system does take some time to perfect, but once you do and have some weapons upgraded, it becomes an incredible amount of fun, even if that won't be forever. Transformers Devastation is a love letter to fans, and more than excels in that department, though almost anyone will be able to appreciate and enjoy their time with the classic Autobots and Decepticons. Roll Out.