• Transformers: Battle Tactics

    If you’re struggling to keep up with all of the Transformers movies and games, then Transformers: Battle Tactics is another game that isn’t going to help the situation. However, if you’re after a turn-based PvP combat game with a strangely enjoyable, cutesy, colourful design and gameplay that’s geared towards the collecting Autobots and Decepticons (both taking up residence on the same team in many circumstances), then Battle Tactics will most certainly appeal to you. It’s a game that’s focused heavily on amassing a fearsome team and battling against other players’ robot collections from around the world, but can the insistent in-app purchases be forgiven? This review mulls over such matters.

    PvP Gameplay

    Gameplay is modelled around a PvP system, utilising a 4 vs 4 approach to battles that are turn-based. When a match is initiated, the host’s app will attempt to find another person currently online, matching the host up with another suitably-skilled player. Your four robots, displayed in a distinctive art style called Chibi (Japanese for “short person” or “small child”), have their own stats, which are in turn pitted against those of the opposition. It’s then a case of taking it in turns with your moves and attacks until one player bites the dust and the other emerges the victor. The visual style is also a departure from the more serious and altogether darker Real Steel Champions.

    The fact that luck has a substantial part to play in the proceedings is unavoidable. Who you get as your opponent will definitely have an effect on the way your match will play out, and because each player has four different robots as part of their line-up, the number of unique combinations of robots you’re going up against are substantial. There are about 77 or so robots to choose from in all, some of which are already available at the start, but many of which can be unlocked as you play. That’s even more robots than is offered in the also-sublime Real Steel World Boxing.

    Stats Game

    Because this is a turn-based game, your success or failure in each battle will hinge on a variety of factors, though the main one is the nature of your individual robots’ stats. Each robot has a stats wheel that quantifies properties like their defense, attack, and so on – there are also special abilities to be used as well.

    This isn’t a purely stats-based affair however – there is some skill in the selecting of your team. The reason for this is because certain combinations of robots work synergistically together. If your team is constructed of an all-Decepticon line-up, for example, you can expect bonus boosts. Similarly, certain specific combinations of Decepticons and Autobots also work in the very same way. Your success therefore depends in no small part on your initial team selection, rather than being purely stats or luck-based. Everything here is a little reminiscent of board-game BattlClix, which may have been in DENA games’ collective mind when designing this game.

    The special team abilities play a significant part in the game. You’re able to spend three points per turn on these abilities, which can be pivotal in deciding who wins and who loses.

    A Few Drawbacks

    If you’re experienced in the Transformers game universe then you’ll already be familiar with the freemium system. Referred to as the Space Bridge system, it’s based on the same kind of premium currency approach that you’ll find in many games. You can only play five battles before you need to recharge, though it doesn’t cost all that much to do so in all fairness. You can pick up bits of premium currency throughout the game, though you may find that if you’re looking for quick progress then you’ll be spending your actual money to get there faster. However, there’s nothing that can’t be earnt through grinding, so it’s just a case of how much time you’re willing to spend on the game, rather than money.

    One of the main annoyances from a strategic point of view is the frequent mismatching of opponents’ levels. Usually you’ll go up against opponents of roughly similar ability, but new players will occasionally find themselves going up against an overly-powerful opponent. Still, it can benefit you if you do happen to win here, and the losses to your own team and ranking are minimal if you do happen to get battered.

    The official Transformers Battle Tactics game is therefore a mixed bag, though its positives outweigh its negatives. Its gameplay is a mixture of luck, tactics, and sheer effort/grinding, and you can play against either the AI or another real-life opponent. The Chibi art style is a marmite look – some will not like it at all whilst others will find it refreshing. Either way, it’s a hugely enjoyable game that has a lot of longevity hiding under its light-hearted, miniature-robot exterior.

  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron


    It didn’t seem all that long ago that we were witnessing the War of Cybertron in the fictional universe of Transformers, portrayed in video-game form by a title of the very same name. Now we’re dealing with its action-packed sequel, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We’re thrust back into the action as the last few days of the Transformers’ home planet, Cybertron, draw to a saddening close.

    The lore, of course, has already been laid out in the Transformers story of course, but Fall of Cybertron’s focus is on the mechanical characters on both sides of the conflict. Returning players will either revel or be revolted by the highly familiar (and largely unchanged) third-person gameplay, and this review covers said gameplay as well as the ever-stunning visuals that this series is known for, regadless of whether they make up for a relative lack of innovation in the gameplay/mechanics department.


    Players will be somewhat disappointed if they come to Fall of Cybertron expecting some radical gameplay enhancements. This game plays out almost identically to the first, bar a few tiny additions and enhancements to the upgrade/perks system. So we’ve still got a sort of Gears of War/Halo-style hybrid, with the shield/damage and weapon system of the latter and the explosive, room-to-room/area-to-area progression of the former. It’s all a thoroughly third-person affair of course (again, much like Gears of War), only here you have the distinguishing feature of rapid transformation between robotic and vehicular from. And it’s difficult to lie about this: these transformations look and feel very cool.

    But to mention the enhancements to the upgrade system posited above, you can now purchase and upgrade weapons from a variety of what are known as Teletraan 1 outlets (this will be familiar to fans of Transformers). There’s also a ratings system where players can score each of the upgrades, with view to creating an informed online community that knows where to look for the best upgrades for their purchased weapons. It’s a little disappointing that the guns feel like they lack stopping power; having weapons that feel disproportionately weak compared to some of the more devastating foes in the game can feel highly disheartening.

    Plot Loyalty

    If it’s one thing that High Moon Studios have managed to do very well, it is remaining loyal to the Transformers lore and foretold storyline. There are moments in the game where old-school Transformers fans will have an “aha!” moment with the dialogue, and this has never been truer than in the Starscream Coronation scene, where the dialogue exchange will have fans’ hairs standing on end.

    There certainly could have been more effort put into the plot however. Often, there will be a focus on a character or two before said focus vanishes into thin air and you’re back to playing generic run, gun, and continue gameplay. Aside from a few epic and notable scenes retelling the classic Transformers story, you’re left with a sort of one-dimensional back-and-forth between Decepticon and Autobot factions. This isn’t terrible, but then again, it isn’t exactly brilliant for a sequel that has had the chance and the time to improve, either.


    As ever, the highlight of Fall of Cybertron for many players will be its multiplayer. Annoyingly, there hasn’t been a significant amount of improvement from this game’s predecessor; things feel pretty much the same, only they look better as a result of the improved graphics, though this is an inevitability of improving technology over time anyway. Still, you’ve got the classic character classes – Titan, Scientist (healer), Destroyer, and Scout – and these make for some ever-entertaining multiplayer action rife with tactical gameplay.

    You’ll find some weapons differences here that weren’t present in War of Cybertron (as well as minor changes to the abilities). The number of modes here also work in the game’s favour. You’ve got everything from classic Deathmatch to capture the flag. We’ve even been treated to a new mode, Headhunter, where you’re collecting trophies (known as Sparks) from your fallen foes. There’s no hiding it: Headhunter is a fantastic and welcome addition to this game’s multiplayer.


    So, we’ve seen some incremental improvements between War of Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, that much is clear. The storyline is loyal to the original Transformers mythology; we’ve got a new multiplayer mode as well as tweaks to said gameplay here and there; single-player gameplay unfortunately hasn’t undergone a massive amount of change; Escalation is still outrageously fun to play, as far as multiplayer modes go anyhow.

    What typifies the Fall of Cybertron experience, therefore, is a distinct lack of innovation and refusal to deviate from what the developers must see as a winning former. It’s hard to disagree with this to some extent, but this makes Fall of Cybtertron nothing more than a repackaged, slightly-altered, marginally-improved version of War of Cybertron, only one that focuses on another set of happenings from the Transformers lore. Still, it can’t be as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction, at least it’s got that going for it.