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.
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.
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.