I’m a huge transformers fan and while traditionally I’m a G1 only kind of bot, in recent years I’m finding my tastes broaden when it comes to robots in disguise.
Transformers battlegrounds appears to be based on the ‘Transformers cyberverse ’ animated series, yes there are many widely differing animated series of Transformers and if you think that’s confusing don’t look into all of the Transformers timelines, it’s one deep rabbit whole, trust me.
With this being my first real exposure to “Cyberverse” I have to say that while it’s clearly aimed at a younger audience it has some fantastic nods to other timelines especially G1. However that’s not to say that ‘Cyberverse’ and by extension Battlegrounds doesn’t have charms of its own, for instance Grimlocks intelligence changing based on if he’s in his bot or alt form is a stroke of genius and something I actually like more than the G1 version.
Speaking of first real exposure I very much feel that for the younger target audience it will for the most part be their first exposure to the tactical action strategy genre. Transformers: Battlegrounds is possible the perfect introduction to the genre, the game introduces you to all the basics relatively quickly and it’s difficulty curve is perfectly arced for each of the three difficulties.
The game has some nice little touches such as the ability to destroy certain environmental features to generate cover and break line of sight.
The Autobots will also communicate and comment on the action during play. It may not sound like a huge deal but it really adds to the feeling that the characters are a team and have lives and relationships outside of battle.
Transformers Battlegrounds also features a fast forward button meaning you don’t have to sit and wait for the enemy to finish their turn at its full length, especially in the run of the mill battles that purple consist of seekers flying into line of sight, firing a shot and then flying back into cover.
As you unlock new characters with new classes and abilities you’ll discover that the Decpticons also have more tricks in their T-Cogs, which includes using their own Energon abilities, many of which can have very devastating results.
The deluxe version of the game comes with some alt skins for the characters which all look rather snazzy, they have zero impact on the gameplay, they just let you kick decptibum in your preferred style.
The deluxe version will also give you an extra arcade game call Cube, which is pretty much ‘Oddball’, I don’t like hiding game modes behind paywalls that’s the state of the industry today. The arcade games are varied enough and great for some quick fun but perhaps it’s my age I found them shallow and didn’t spend much time playing them. Especially as the games campaign is paced very well, even the missions that are clearly padding were still enjoyable.
While I don’t want to spoil much of the games plot I will say that in a nice twist rather than just being an absentee overlooker who dictates the action, you’re actually a character in world. Admittedly you’re a nameless human hoisted into the sky by Teletraan X to keep you safe, it’s from this vantage you’ll survey the battle and help the Autobots save all life on Earth. This simple element really helps to invest you within the world, characters and story, something often missing from games in this genre.
The Decepticons are once again trying to get the mechanical mitts on the Allspark (When aren’t they?!) and it’s up to the Autobots to stop them, namely Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Grimlock, Arcee and Windblade. I was pleasantly surprised by the cast. The playable characters are a good mix of classic heroes and newer faces, I mean who doesn’t love Windblade?!
If growing up like me you had taste your favourite Cybertronian was of course the leader of the Seekers, the one, the only and the rightful leader of the Decpticons, Startscream! Starscream is his usual honestly ambitious self, an admirable trait for a Decepticon. In fact all the characters are true to themselves even if the games dialogue is a tad stiff at times.
The games first encounter with the Decepticon leader Megatron does a fantastic job of demonstrating that raw strength of this tyrannical Transformer, not only because he’s attacks cause and insane amount of damage but with the fact that every single “named” Decepticon you encounter up to this point your objective is to defeat them, not with Megatron, your goal is merely to survive.
As you complete missions you’ll unlock Spark points which you can spend in Wheeljack’s lab to unlock new abilities for your bots, some of which are tied the characters class, however it’s the character specific abilities which are the more interesting and are representative of who they are. Grimlock has an ability you can unlock for 3000 Spark points called ‘Sleeping Giant’ which is basically an overwatch ability with a Dinobot sized tweak. As great as Grimlock is its Prime’s ultimate ability that’s my favourite, called “Throw Back” Prime uses his raw strength to simply hurl his foe across the level. The animation itself is rather simple but I never tired of seeing it.
Transformers: Battlegrounds doesn’t break any new ground for the genre but then again, if it’s not broken, it doesn’t need fixing. It’s a solid addition to the genre and a welcome surprise to me. It’s well rounded and entertaining enough that I don’t think it should be shunned by gamers older than its target audience.