For a franchise concept with as much potential as that of Transformers, it doesn’t seem that many of the developers of its games are necessarily capitalising on the technically intricate nature of the Transformers concept itself. Shirking the usual battle-only gameplay for an exploration of said potential however, is the mobile app Transformers: Construct-Bots. This is an app whose gameplay is largely comprised of the construction of your own Transformer robots, having complete control over each of the robots’ sections in a simulated laboratory-like setting. There’s still battling to be done however, but the satisfaction arises from battling with your own custom bots – this is the game’s unique selling point and it is a feature explored further in this short review.
First and foremost, Transformers Construct-Bots is a game of customisation. The initial menu screen presents you with three options: Customise, Gallery, and Battle. You can’t enter into battle without having your own robots first, nor can you view a gallery if you’ve no bots to view, so Customise is your first port of call. Selecting it will bring you to the meat of the app’s action.
The customise section of the game is set out like your own personal mini-laboratory where you view you skeleton Transformer in all its glory. Actually, there’s no glory at first because your bot is barebones and doesn’t have any parts. It’s up to you to select and customise each of the parts, from the head section to the legs and outwards to the wings.
Initially, you will have to rely on the most basic of parts because you won’t have substantial quantities of cash available to purchase any of the more premium materials. To give you an idea of what you’re lumbered with at first, there are plenty of cardboard boxes to act as stand-ins for your head, hands, and feet parts. As you can imagine, you’re not going to win many battles with robots constructed from these basic parts.
The game gives you mission-style progression to allow you to construct your own fearsome Transformer however. You can select from any one of the missions, after which you will be given a parts lists as a general guide to creating your own bot from the actual Transformers titles, from Ultra Wave to (woohoo) Optimus Prime. The missions are more of a structured approach to the game, allowing newcomers to have some external help when building their bots, as well as giving you something to work towards in the free customisation mode.
Now, to call what Transformers Construct-Bots refers to as battles would be a bit of a reach. In stark contrast to the dynamic, user-controlled battles of games like Titanfall, battles in Transformers Construct Bots are notably lacking in any real substance. In fact, all that happens when you battle is that you pay a certain fee to enter the battle, then witness a cloud of smoke and robot parts flying about on the screen, Tasmanian Devil-style, until one of the robots emerges the victor.
So unfortunately, each of the battles you will “fight” (or not, as the case may be) are actually fought behind closed doors, making them purely stats-based affairs. The winner is going to be the robot with the best stats overall, meaning that those who have invested in superior weapons and other parts will be at a distinct advantage here.
There are some other redeeming features to speak of, including the ability to view galleries of your robots. You can also choose to share your designs, meaning that they are entered into an online portal where everyone shares their creations. This can give you a bit of inspiration if you’re having a tough time coming up with a great design, though you’re probably better off sticking to the mission framework if you’re actually having issues with inspiration.
This game’s design also isn’t the slickest, particularly when comparing it side-by-side with other transformers games. Its design is at least superior to flash-based creation game offerings, but only just. In the end, one would expect a lot more polish and visual flair than this app actually provides.
In conclusion, this app is great for the casual collector of Transformers robots, but anyone expecting a polished experience worthy of the core Transformer game and movie series may be disappointed. The “battles” aren’t really battles, and more importantly, the customisation elements aren’t as extensive as they should be for a game in the robot builder genre. This is doubly true when you consider the slick presentation and extensive customisation features offered in other transformers video games (such as Angry Birds Transformers) that aren’t even build around customisation and character creation. That’s why this is only for the truly dedicated Transformer fan who can comfortably overlook this game’s faults.