When I first saw the trailer for Transformers: Devastation, I really hoped the game would live up to the expectations I set for it. I've been playing it every day for a month, and I am still discovering new things. The combat system may not be as outrageous as Bayonetta, but there are a lot of techniques that can be performed, and ways to link moves together that are not always obvious at first.

There are the typical Light and Heavy Melee buttons which can be chained together for various sequences. At any point in the sequence, you can Dodge, Parry, or Shoot, then continue the sequence right where you left off. Completing a combo sequence will prompt you will a brief window to add Transformation Attacks, which amount to turning into a vehicle and slamming into your enemies in various ways.

All Hail Devastator
Transformers: Devastation

Dodging or Parrying an enemy attack triggers the same slow-motion effect as it did in Bayonetta, giving you a second or two of "Focus" to set up a variety of counter attacks, such as normal Chains, powerful Reversals, or even Bullet Time gunplay. Enemies can also Dodge and Parry your own attacks, which makes fights much more interactive. There are no Touch-of-Death combos here; you must always be ready to react to your opponents breaking free of your combos and adjust your strategies. This makes for some truly amazing battles, especially on the higher difficulties. You can also transform at will, of course, and launch yourself into Fullspeed Attacks, which can be followed with a flurry of punches into a Vehicle Attack. One secret that has been discovered is that hitting the enemy with a Ranged Weapon attack immediately following that Fullspeed Vehicle Attack, will prompt another Vehicle Attack! Tricks like this are still being discovered by the community at large, and are proving the game to be much more intricate than initially thought.

Each Autobot has a unique move to activate using the Ability Bar, which refills itself over time. This is the main way the Autobots differentiate themselves, and each has a different playstyle mostly due to this particular feature. There are also a large variety of weapons that can be equipped, and some weapons are exclusive to certain characters. Hammers are large, slow, two-handed weapons, that can only be used by Optimus and Grimlock, whereas Swords are light, fast, and can be used by anyone. Transformers: Devastation shares a lot in common with Bayonetta, but it also has enough uniqueness to differentiate itself. During my first playthrough of Devastation, I kept seeing familiar landmarks. At first I thought this was lazy development, that Platinum had reused the same locations in several stages. But during subsequent playthroughs on higher difficulties, I eventually realized what was really going on.

Platinum created the entire city, and gave us free, unrestricted access to the entire thing, right from Stage 1. While not exactly "open world", it is perhaps more accurate to call it "open city". While there will always be a waypoint marker on your minimap, indicating where you should go for your next objective, there are always several ways to get there, both above and below ground, and you are free to deviate and explore as much as you like along the way. Many hidden secrets and powerups can be found, and the city itself is constantly evolving around you, as Decepticons and Sentry Drones will appear in areas that had previously been clear. This made the city itself feel alive around you, though it was completely devoid of humans. Prime explained that everyone had evacuated. Fair enough, I suppose.

Later stages are not nearly as expansive, but suit the environments well. It really was like watching an old 80's cartoon. One point on this that should be made, is that while the game looks like G1 Transformers, the setting is more in line with the Combiner Wars universe. Megatron, of course, no longer turns into a P1 pistol, which was both silly, and problematic when kids start getting shot by cops. He now turns into his Tank form seen in several toys and continuities, and I think this is absolutely fine.

If you are just the type of player to go through Story Mode one time on the default difficulty setting, there won't be much reason for you to play this again, and you could consider it finished after only 4-6 hours. If you care about mastering the combat engine, Synthing powerful weapons, and earning SS Rankings on all of the Challenges, then you could easily be playing this for several months. Any true Brawler fan should already know this, but as Transformers: Devastation has the mainstream appeal of G1 Transformers, this aspect should not be overlooked by casual fans hoping for a long and varied Campaign Mode.

Several of the original voice actors returned to voice their characters, which was an extremely nice touch.

There are, of course, numerous issues which prevent me from giving this game a perfect score, though actual bugs have been pretty few. Here are my gripes with the game, in no particular order:

- Game-breaking bug: Frozen enemies will damage you when you touch or attack them. This can take upwards of 90% of your total HP in Magnus and Prime Difficulties, and is extremely easy to produce.

- Game-breaking bug: Buying items in the Lab may not add them to your inventory, but will still deduct your Credits.

- RNG Tech Development that can sink hours of time and millions of Credits without giving you anything useful.

- Horrible item management of 200+ weapons, most of which are only useful as attribute holders for future Synthesis. Often I find myself spending more time selling off extra items than actually playing the game. I sometimes dread the prospect of having to sell off extra inventory after a Challenge that I will simply give up and play something else instead.

- It would be nice if the game would let you sell items as you receive them, but this window only shows you the new items, which you must then attempt track down in the main 200+ inventory again if you know that you do not want to keep them.

- You cannot Synthesize when you have 200+ weapons, and must sell to get rid of excess stock.

- Tech Equip Menu shows Tech items in absolutely no particular order, making finding the one you want extremely tedious. The best way to find the Tech you want is to go to the Lab, Sell Tech, and here all Tech is now listed in order by Type. Use this menu to find the Tech that you want, then back out, return to the Tech Equip Menu, and hope to find it again. (Good luck with that).

- The best way to acquire SS Rank weapons is to farm one of the Turret Challenges on Prime Difficulty over and over again, which will reset the Shop in the Lab and hopefully give you something good to buy. This is entirely reliant on the RNG to spawn something worthwhile in the Shop, but most of it is utter garbage.

- Very poor (or even NO) explanation of character stats, weapon stats, and Synthesis Attributes, what they do, if they stack, and how effective they are.

- Obvious console port controls are poorly integrated to the PC. Sometimes the mouse simply stops working and you must revert to the assigned keyboard equivalents of console controller buttons.

- No Borderless Window Display mode, the game only runs in Fullscreen.

- Alt+Tab breaks your controls when you return. Once you select a new Challenge or Campaign mission, you will not be able to move until you press an attack button. Using the Steam overlay ingame does this also.

- Camera that spontaneously repositions itself into the worst possible angle when doing a Rush Attack. Fortunately you can reset the Camera with a button press.

There is a lot to like about Transformers: Devastation. Beautiful G1 inspired cell-shaded graphics, original voice actors, and a good story written by "All Hail Megatron" author Shane McCarthy; however there are a lot of nagging inconveniences that drag down my final score. Overall I would give it 80%, or 4/5, but with lots of room for improvement of features and interfaces. Buy it if you are both a fan of Transformers and Platinum Games; borrow or rent if you are a fan of only one of these.

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