Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy!
Transformers Battlegrounds Review
This week, Transformers Battlegrounds was released, and Logan (9) and I were lucky enough to be able to try it out. Battlegrounds is a turn based strategy game built in the Transformers universe. Players take on the role of a human who must guide the Autobots in their fight against the Decepticons. Tips and information are supplied from the Transformers themselves and also from the robotic helper who allows the human to hover and gain a bird’s eye view of the action. As is common now, the first view missions provide training on how to play the game and work the mechanics.
I was surprised to see a turn based strategy game as they have been somewhat out of vogue for a while now. The fact that there is a necessary pause in the action can be frustrating at times, particularly when you have to watch your enemies execute a well laid trap. The upside to this is that it does allow time to consider moves without pressure and so it’s a good way for children to get some breathing space to think about their next move. Likewise, restrictions on movement and shooting via a system of finite action points force a more considered approach. Initially that rankled but I found I got into the swing of things very quickly and did not notice it after a short while.
The look and feel of the game is superb. Though not exactly the same, it seems modelled on the series 1 Transformers which, to me, are the most kid friendly. The colours of the game are super vibrant and it’s really like playing the old Transformers cartoon. The characterisation is also spot on. Autobots are tirelessly good and the Decepticons are utterly evil. Starscream in particular is excellent being just as cowardly and devious as he was in the original cartoon series.
The attention to detail on looks carries through into the animations, when the Transformers move, transform or fight it just looks really cool. The animations draw the eye but don’t last overlong so you don’t get bored when you see it for the 100th time. The only criticism I’d make at all in this area is that Bumblebee speaks. Fans of the Transformers series will know that Bumblebee expresses himself via his radio as his voice was damaged in battle. It’s a bit weird to hear him chat away. That being said he is a good first character as he’s friendly and has good all round abilities and he’s always been the ‘nice guy’ of the Autobot team so he makes a logical first character to play.
Though you start with ‘Bee soon enough you meet Windblade, a flying Transformer and rescue the mighty Grimlock, a Dinobot with some really fun head biting attacks. At each of these junctures you get helpful tips on how to use these new characters and how to get your squad working as a team.
When Logan and I played, the trickle feed of information meant that he picked up squad mechanics quickly and was easily able to get into the strategic side of the game without too much hassle.
So, what didn’t we like. For me the main thing was that the weapons animations and smashing of enemies, while fun, was a bit lacking in punch. This is an obvious concession towards the audience as enemies are deactivated rather than smashed. You might argue that they’d be more than deactivated after having their heads bitten by a robotic dinosaur but that’s beside the point. The other annoyance I had, and it was a single occurrence, was a glitch when fighting Starscream where he refused to come out from behind cover during his turn meaning his turn never ended and I had to restart the mission. It was not a major problem though.
Overall I’d say if you have a child in the house that enjoys Transformers then Battlegrounds is super. The turn based system allows kids to grasp squad based combat in manageable chunks and means that rather than just controlling a single Autobot, they get to control a whole bunch. The graphics are great and hark back to a time when Transformers were a fun toy rather than the slightly scary pointy creatures of modern times and, most of all, it’s fun to smash, sorry deactivate, Decepticons with a well laid trap.
Transformers Battlegrounds is available to buy on PlayStation® 4, Nintendo Switch™, Xbox One, and PC digital.