The large cast isnít limited to just Decepticons. You start with just Optimus and Bumblebee, though you eventually unlock a small cast of playable characters including Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and Grimlock. Fans are sure to grumble about missing favorites (for me -- Prowl), but everyone is sure to find someone to play as. Other than look, the only noticeable differences between characters is their special power move. Each bot has their own ability ratings for traits like durability and attack power which only matter until you unlock the ability to upgrade characters and weapons.
Mechanically, Transformers: Devastation plays like other Platinum produced action games, such as Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Combo-based combat is the main focus. On the most basic level, you can string together basic attacks to form combos. These do decent enough damage and will be your go-to attacks throughout most of the game. As encounters increase in intensity, youíll need to unlock additional moves Ė both defensive and offensive Ė to create better combos. These include aerial strikes, reverses, parries, and a time-slowing Focus move.
Most of the additional moves involve one stick flick or button press, yet require precise timing to execute in-game. This is where the true gameplay challenge comes from and will go a long way towards deciding if you want to stick with the game or, at the very least, drop the difficulty. Getting the timings just right takes practice and once you get it right, youíll pop them off as easily as the basic combos. My only problem is the overuse of the (RB) button. Holding the button converts your character to Vehicle Mode, while tapping it quickly at the end of a combo does a quick conversion for a vehicle-based combo finisher attack. Unless, of course, the enemy is attacking at the same time as your combo finished, at which point you enter Focus Mode and exit your combo. Itís all based on how long you press the button and when, which will lead to unintended moves and frustration.
The loot system is an unexpected bonus. You can equip four weapons; a main melee weapon and three additional ranged or melee weapons. Each weapon has its own traits and can be leveled up in the Ark by sacrificing other weapons to it. Thereís a decent number of weapons available, such as axes, swords, and missiles of all types, each with a grade on them. In most cases, youíll use the commonly dropped weapons until you defeat bosses, at which point you take their weapon. By the end of the game, I had Wheeljack brandishing the Star Saber while using Megatronís Cannon, Starscreamís Null Beam, and Shockwave in gun form as side weapons. Itís a fun addition, though the ammo limit on ranged weapons, and aiming difficulties, keeps them from being incorporated into combos in any meaningful way.
For Transformers fans, Transformers: Devastation is a must play unless youíre not a fan of fast-paced action games. It isnít a particularly deep game, but the nostalgia factor does make up for a lot of the other shortcomings. For non-fans, Transformers: Devastation is a tougher sell. Unless youíre in the market for another combo-based action game, the repetitive gameplay isnít appealing for long stretches of time.
**Note: A digital copy of Transformers: Devastation was used for review. Retail box copies are also available.