Dec 26, 2012

[Games] Transformers Legends (Android)

So I do my best to review the different Android apps that I use on my ASUS Transformer TF101, but I only have so much time in the day for blogging. But then this app, which only launched recently, totally deserves some special review time, even during this holiday week.

Transformers Legends is another attempt by Hasbro to cash in on the worldwide love for Transformers. It combines the game play of a computer card game with the additive qualities of CCGs. Heck, a lot of the elements of this game are more like Zynga games like Mafia Wars. But the big thing that makes this game so  different is the fact that it involves Transformers. And not Michael Bay movie era Transformers but those that seem to echo the original 1986 cartoon.

Synopsis: Transformers Legends is a game currently available for Android devices with an iOS version set to be released in the future. The current version is a fairly early release - version, and thus still has a fair number of bugs.

The core premise of the game is simple enough - you collect cards and you use them to fight both computer-controlled enemies and the decks of other players. But it actually make take me a while to discuss things better.

When you first start the game, you are asked to select your faction - Autobot or Decepticon. This only dictates your starting cards - you'll still be able to collect cards for both factions, but normally you'll have better cards based on your initial faction. This is because you have combat decks, in a manner of speaking. One is your 9-card deck, which is a mix of both factions and used to fight other players. Then you have two 3-card decks - one for each faction. You can mix and match various Transformer cards and weapon cards to make these various decks or you can have the system set you up with the most recommended team based on their stats alone.

The cards themselves are beautiful from an art perspective - and I'm not just saying this because they follow the G1 art style. Just looking at the same cards above, I think you can get a better appreciation for the art quality. Cards also have various levels (1-4 based on my playing so far) that are related to how powerful they are and of course how rare they are. You get cards for each mode - vehicle and robot. And when you have the matching pairs, you need to put them through a "trans-scan" process to combine the cards into one with better stats and bonuses in combat.

Cards are gathered in a number of ways. You can earn Ally Points and Battle Points during gameplay to open various Space Bridge to have a random card warp in to join you. You are given a free Space Bridge credit every day. And outside of direct purchases of in-game credits, you also earn cards by performing Missions. Missions use up Energon and they result in a variety of options including new cards or being able to challenge a random player for free.

Battles with other players typically use Battle Points and you only get a maximum of three at any time. But this is not real-time combat. Basically you will challenge the latest online snapshot of another players deck and you just square off based on the stats of your deck, similar to the old Super Trump cards. You can upgrade cards over time to make them better, but in the end you will always need stronger cards. Thus the cycle goes on and on.

Gameplay is highly repetitive and you can only animate cards so much. But the main appeal of the game involves the character cards and how they reflect various G1 Transformers. And to ensure the financial side of things, the robot images more match recent G1-focused Transformers toylines like Classics, Universe and Generations. And thus you end up forgiving the repetitive play style if only to get more cards and complete your collection of your classic cartoon heroes and villains.

On the ASUS TF101, the game has a tendency to force-exit during Battles and Trans-Scans. This is best remidied when you restart the device entirely to fully free-up memory. In-game, there are odd delays between when your Energon or Battle Points totals refresh - what you see on the main page may not always reflect how many points you have right now. And the game recently tried to run its first in-game event called The Harvest of the Insecticons but had to pull it a few days later for unspecified maintenance. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the game has only offered Kickback as the main opponent and none of the other 6 Insecticons.

I love Transformers Legends, but this is mainly because it's a nicely casual game and it involves the Transformers that I love the most. It's nothing fancy on its own, but it is a great way to fully utilize a franchise without letting the gameplay becoming too complicated or too boring either. Since it's nicely in-the-middle with a great concept behind it, I can't help but rate the game as 4 interesting Transformer card appearances out of a possible 5.
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