In stark contrast, Transformers: Devastation was universally praised for revitalising the franchise within the gaming universe, with PlatinumGames reconstructing, and reconfiguring the action hack-and-slash adventures of our favourite mech-heroes. Fast-Forward five years later, and we’re delivered Transformers: Battlegrounds, a minimalistic effort that strives to enamour its target audience within tactical style, XCOM Arcade like aesthetic. But does it work? Somewhat, but it’s a tough one to completely gauge from the onset. The issue that tactical RPG’s have, are their plodding approach within a gaming climate that appreciates a rapid idea demonstrated. Transformers has always been marketed as larger-than-life, but for some odd reason Battlegrounds tends to shrink this notion, into almost a Toys for toddlers mixed with a game of chess.
Now, is it aimed for the adult. Hell no, but it’s still heartbreaking to see a franchise so beloved and adored by a plethora of generations ultimately degraded to quick-fix rushed-to-shelf gaming. The series deserves more than that, given that its historic legacy within entertainment has gone far beyond its golden age era of Cartoons, but I digress. We’ve been offered an incredible Tactical turn-based RPG crossover from the developers that have mastered the Genre, in Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. However the comparison between these two titles are night and day. The excellence in its integral gamestyle and balance helped Kingdom Battle become one of the best tactical gaming experiences for the Nintendo Switch, not to mention the amalgamation of Nintendo’s historic Mario franchise, with the nonsensical hilarity of Rayman’s Rabbids.
But damn, does Battlegrounds deserve some decent polishing. Now I’m not trying to say the game is completely out-of-the-picture, but when you adapt something as precious, esteemed and well respected as Transformers, and relegate it to a child-like Tactical turn-based system, it can be quite the polarising experience. There are efforts in place that highlight our heroes, and the way you control them, but its lack in quality and aesthetic bodes no sense of immersion or imagination. The GUI, is just an eyesore and if anything is hard to navigate. Then we talk loading times, and oh boy… This is almost like going back to Lego City: Undercover on the Wii U kind of levels. I’ll never understand why such a game of such minimal standards needed 7 minutes to load-in; Battlegrounds isn’t as bad, but it does take its time chugging through its multitude of scenarios.
Writing and delivery is generic, if anything blanketed by its gameplay but even then its tough to completely encroach yourself and be enamoured by what’s happening in the story. Performance wise, the title isn’t too bad but does have a few hitches and glitches that can be easily patched out. I did experience two hard crashes while playing the title, which was a little disappointing. Again, understanding the niche that’s targeted is kids, but that doesn’t necessarily give the game a pass here. While my stance is firm, I am coming in with a soft approach and giving it some leeway. Performances from voice actors aren’t that great, if anything come across flat and monotone. It’s a shame mainly due to Transformers relying on its over-the-top voice acting to harness any sort of character or personality from these machines.
Giving integrity and showing unique abilities between each Transformer, special attacks and powers are delegated between your party that may help you in battle. Accessibility is key, and while its UI is somewhat agitating to navigate, each protagonists controls are made kid friendly. Each turn is determined by sequential action, and justified outcome. Using a series of heavy blows will no doubt take down your opposing party in an instant, but you may not be able to acquire these skills all at once. These moments are sparse, and can lead on a drab demonstration. The blight of its title remains in its level design, and how discombobulated the entire terrain feels. Gradually charging your Energon meter will allow you to utilise your Ultimate attack, but you may replenish this faster if you sacrifice Action Points.
Albeit, Transformers: Battlegrounds bears some great qualities but is overshadowed by its pitfalls. Its still a solid action experience for kids that are entertained by the mere thought of controlling their favourite robotic superheroes. Yes, it’s a little disheartening for this once hardcore Transformers fanboy to see what the series has been reduced to, a franchise that is used for quick turnover. However I can see its value in its niche audience. While it may not be easy to praise something that has potential if in the right hands, Battlegrounds seems liked a rushed development, and one I would have trouble even entertaining the thought of acquiring. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy this for your child, they would probably get a huge kick out of it. But just note that this will probably be for a short period, before they’re ready for something new.
As evil MEGATRON closes in on the Allspark, BUMBLEBEE and the Autobots need a new commander to help save Earth – you! Assemble your squad and roll out for a battle that will rage from Central City to Cybertron