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Game review – Transformers: Battlegrounds

23 Nov 2020

Transformers has been a popular franchise ever since the legendary cartoon series debuted way back in the 80s. Now the franchise is a mega-popular hit spawning lots of other cartoons, movies and even video games over the years. 

The last Transformers game I played was Transformers: Devastation made by developer PlatinumGames. It was a very fun action game based on the original cartoons. It has been five years since Devastation, but now a new console Transformers video game is finally here. 

Most Transformers games I have played in the past have been competent third-person shooters. Well, this year’s release called Transformers: Battlegrounds is a little bit different. This is because Transformers: Battlegrounds tackles the new genre of a turn-based tactical strategy video game. 

Historically, I’m not very good at tactical strategy games as they’re usually quite difficult to play through. Other games in this genre include Final Fantasy Tactics, the XCOM series and even the recently released Gears Tactics for Xbox and PC. 

The reason I’m not good at this particular genre is that I’m bad at positioning my troops on the battlefield. I always seem to place them in the wrong positions and the enemy just bombards me with their own attacks. 

Well thankfully Transformers: Battlegrounds is actually friendly to newbies like me because it offers different difficulty settings. Due to this, I’m glad to say I was able to complete the main campaign and it was much more enjoyable than I initially thought. 

The story of this game isn’t anything groundbreaking because it’s mainly about Megatron from the Decepticons trying to acquire the all-powerful ‘AllSpark’. The player assumes the role of Optimus Prime and the Autobots, and your job is to stop Megatron and his cronies from getting the AllSpark. 

The game is based on the recent Transformers: Cyberverse TV series. Even though the series only started back in 2018, they have mostly kept the original designs for most of the Transformers characters. The robots look cooler compared to their butchered designs in the five Michael Bay movies…

At the start of the game, you can only take three Auotbots into each battle. The Autobots that are playable in the campaign include the following: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Wheeljack, Arcee and Windblade. 

Each of the robots has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s best to gather up a balanced team. Robots like Arcee and Wheeljack are helpful because they can heal the life bar of their allies. Bumblebee and Windblade are scouts meaning they’re good at finding enemies. 

Grimlock and Optimus Prime are categorised as Brawlers and they’re the strongest Autobots on the team. However, the only weak side to Grimlock and Optimus Prime is that they cannot travel very far per turn. This can be problematic when the enemy bots like to run away from danger. 

In terms of gameplay, you have to take turns in order to initiate combat in this game. You can only attack once per turn, plus the Autobots can only travel a short distance. The Autobots have access to at least six abilities and attacks, and you can easily choose each action at the bottom of the screen. 

As you progress through the game, you can spend currency to upgrade the skills and abilities of the Autobots. The game gets better when you progress because you will have access to much better attacks to defeat the Decepticons. 

Optimus Prime travels the shortest, so it’s best to pair him up with either Bumblebee or Windblade because they can cover more distance. In some missions, you’re forced to be whoever the game decides so you have to choose your actions wisely in order to succeed. 

In the last level, you get access to all six of the characters and they have to face up against Megatron. The game gets a bit more challenging towards the end because the bosses have larger health bars and the Decepticons increase in number. That being said, I was still happy I was able to complete the main campaign as I’m usually not good at games of this genre. 

The story campaign is quite enjoyable because it includes the actual voice actors from the show. It’s just a little bit disappointing that you cannot play as the Decepticons in the main story. They’re only playable in one other mode that is in this game. 

As for its presentation, Transformers: Battlegrounds has a basic design. It’s not the cel-shaded look of Transformers: Devastation, but the graphics are still nice and colourful. The levels are also simplistic looking, although you do get to visit a variety of different locations. 

 If you finish the main story, you can play more modes in the ‘Arcade Mode’. You can play by yourself or cooperate with a second player. The modes in Arcade include: Capture the Flag, Energon Capture, Last Stand and Destruction. 

The last mode is called Decepticon Grudge Match. Sadly, this is the only mode in the entire game where you can play as the bad guys. It would have been cooler if they were available in more modes, but I guess the developers wanted you to be the good guys most of the time. 

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed most parts of Transformers: Battlegrounds. It may not be the best game in the world, but it’s a nice and easy introduction to tactical strategy games. This game is worth buying if you a fan of Transformers and you want to try something different. 

Verdict: 7.5/10