Transformers: Devastation (2015): 5 out of 10 PlayStation’s Plus free games for the month program gets a lot off the well-deserved stick. Transformers: Devastation was the perfect free game for that service. It is a game I would have never thought of picking up, and despite my criticisms below I did overall enjoy.
I understand the defenders of this game. A peek at a message board, or even the TV Tropes entry for this game will show a large amount of passionate world building surrounding the Transformers franchise from the cartoons and movies, to the novel and comic book adaptations, to the fanfiction, Wikipedias, toys and I am assuming an off-Broadway musical.
I understand the appeal of nostalgia for a property like this. I loved a certain Scooby Doo platformer from the last generation that let’s face it I wouldn’t have looked at twice if not for the branding. And the original Xbox sported not one but two Buffy the Vampire games that were undoubtedly more fan service than top quality third-person adventure. (Why does Buffy die if she touches water again?)
I am not a Transformers fan. I am too old to have seen it during its original run, and I have found the entire concept bizarre. I have found the sheer breadth of generations, universes, and adaptations outright perplexing. That the game has kept the original look of the cartoon with some authentic voices actors does not register with me. I am not about to commit seppuku due to the mishandling of Starscream’s characterization.
Developer PlatinumGames strengths are on full display here, and the combat is overall a delight. It can take a while to get your groove on, and it seemed a good hour before I gained access to the home base where I could upgrade weapons, create other upgrades, purchase new moves and switch out my character. But once I could do these things, the game was a delight. Outside of some bizarre top down, sections like a PG-rated Grand Theft Auto 2 game and some unfortunate (though generous) platforming sessions, this game is a collection of third-person brawling and driving with the ability to switch between the two on the fly which allows one to do combos that never get old.
But good Lord is everything else a wreck. I like the cell shading graphics. They fit the retro theme and allow a butter smooth 60 frames a second. Unfortunately, the overall design lacks such imagination. You spend half the game in about twenty city blocks. All of which looks so identical to each other that you never get the sense of where in the city you are in though it is so tiny. It’s like a cartoon version of Dragon Age II. The rest of the time is spent in dull spaceship corridors, dim Cybertron corridors and empty space (that is supposed to be in well, space) All the objects in the game look the same, all the enemies look the same, and everything has this cheap cut-and-paste glow to it.
The overall game feels cheap. It is also really really short. I don’t mind short games, but this one seemed to end somewhat suddenly. Replay value is there as the combat is fun, but outside of that the challenge areas and different characters don’t mix it up enough.
As a free game on the PS4, it is perfect. Issues such as value and length fall by the wayside. But as an original $50 download. It is less than meets the eye.