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More Thoughts On Transformers Devastation: Prime Mode, The Difficulty Curve, And Fair Vs. Unfair Difficulty
RAC - Monday, October 26, 2015

"That bot is playing Galaga. He thought we wouldn't notice, but we did." One trip through Transformers: Devastation will run you less than ten hours, but there's a good bit more satisfaction to be had in the game for those who want to stick with it. RAC follows up on his video review of the games with more thoughts - click through to read!

Having spent another week or so with Transformers: Devastation, I thought it might be good to follow up on my video review with some more thoughts and impressions of the game. My original verdict hasn't changed: it's short, but reasonably deep for an action game. So let's explore that depth a bit.

I didn't really have a full grasp of the weapon and combat system when I wrote the review - and the good news there is that you can get through the basic Warrior difficulty level without that. But then, things get pretty hairy if you don't make full use of all your possible countermoves and damage avoidance skills. At the Magnus and Prime difficulties you will absolutely need to have purchased the Parry and Still Safe skills. Still Safe lets you dodge as an attack connects to avoid damage, essentially giving a broader window in which to dodge an attack. Parry allows for a well-timed tap of the left control stick to counter moves - and it's something the enemies will be using on you constantly at the higher difficulties. It's even possible to catch and return projectiles using this move - even Devastator's drill missiles!

My personal benchmark for whether or not a game's difficulty is a positive is that, when I fail, it should feel like my fault. And Prime difficulty straddles the edge of that, throwing tremendous numbers of enemies and/or enemies with great speed. On top of which, it seems as though attacks kick up more debris in Prime Mode... the only reason for which is to obscure the visual cues needed to pull off your dodges and parries. Dirty pool.

Skill point growth is also capped by difficulty level, as is the level of TECH that Wheeljack can create. To get to the 99-level maximum in every Tech Spec stat and gain access to the 50,000 Credit level of TECH, you must play in Prime Mode. However, once you hit Magnus and Prime difficulties you have the advantage of higher-level weapons.

The variety of weapons is even broader than it first appears, with callbacks to every corner of the Transformers Universe. Optimus Primal's twin swords, Dark of the Moon Megatron's shotgun, Rodimus Prime's Photon Eliminator... it's a long list, and involves a lot of characters that obviously aren't in the game. Like the rankings for missions, the weapons come in at up to SS rank - and cost a fortune to synthesize. But since SS weapons also have a top level of 99, it's worth it!

Optimus Prime remains my main character, because his Summon Trailer special move can clear out a crowd pretty effectively. I'm happy to see the others also level up slowly even if you don't use them.
As much as I enjoyed hammers in my initial playthrough, they're just too slow for the frantic Prime difficulty level. A pair of Thermal Cutters (like Hot Rod's from Transformers: The Movie, except they set things on fire) are my current go-to.

On the ranged weapon front, try and find yourself a good, strong Laser. You can't score headshots with them, but their constant fire does pretty heavy damage at higher levels and ranks - and they bypass enemy shields.

A last piece of advice if you do choose to check out Magnus and Prime difficulties: Stages 49 and 50 of Challenge Mode are the Insecticon-shooting turret minigame, and if your aim is good you can collect a decent amount of money, items and weapons without having to tax your twitch reflexes quite as much. It's a good time to use your drop-boosting Credit and Item Scanners.

Devastation is a pretty addictive game if you've got the patience for it, with a good bit to find. I hope it does well for Platinum Games and Activision, because while it's not my ideal Transformers game, there's still a lot I like about it. I'd be perfectly happy with seeing these controls applied to a longer adventure with more geographic variety.

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