The Autobots and Decepticons are at war yet again and Transformers: Battlegrounds is quite a cool SRPG that fans of all ages can enjoy.
Transformers: Battlegrounds tells a familiar story as Megatron and his Decepticon goons are about to acquire The Allspark yet the Autobots desperately try to thwart his plans. Throughout the journey ahead, you'll command an army of powerful Autobots including Bumblebee, Arcee, Windblade, Wheeljack, Grimlock, and Optimus Prime, of course. Each character has a class which dictates their abilities such as Scout, Brawler, and Support and having a good mix of them allows you to exercise a wide range of abilities. Anyway, I'll discuss more about the gameplay later. For now, let me just say that the world within Transformers: Battlegrounds reflects the modern CG animated series Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy yet it features a bright and colourful aesthetic as well as the same voice cast which makes it a kid-friendly yet genuine experience. I personally enjoyed its stylish take on the Transformers franchise.
Although Transformers: Battlegrounds is a strategy RPG featuring grid-based battle maps, it's an incredibly accessible and intuitive game that any gamer can easily pick up and play. The battle system relies on action points that dictate how much each Autobot can move and their abilities consume anywhere from 1 to 3 points. Considering you get 3 points during each turn, you'll have to remain stationary in order to unleash your most powerful skills. On top of this, you'll fill an Energon gauge as you fight that you can utilize to execute a bonus attack by either spending half or all of your Energon. Seeing as each Autobot has such a distinct array of abilities, all of this comes together to create an impressively varied battle system. Whether you're pushing explosive obstacles into distant Decepticons, carefully healing your comrades, or smashing a wide area full of adversaries; the battles can be rather satisfying and rewarding.
The combat is definitely fun, full of variety, and there are different goals such as defeating all enemies, working your way to a designated area, or simply surviving. However, as a huge fan of SRPGs, I frequently felt like Transformers: Battlegrounds simply didn't offer enough challenge or need for strategy. You can change the difficulty while selecting a mission but the campaign itself is extremely easy to master without any substantial challenge. Plus, even on the harder difficulty settings, the gameplay doesn't require much strategy to master considering how streamlined and simple everything is. Along the same lines, I wish that you could upgrade and customize your Autobots but all you can do is purchase abilities at Wheeljack's Lab then swap them out. You can also change their appearances with purchasable skins but that's about it. I would have liked to see customization elements such as skill trees and equipment as well.
Finally, the campaign within Transformers: Battlegrounds is quite short as there are only 20 battles to master which, by my estimate, will take under 10 hours to complete. On the plus side, there's an arcade mode which allows you to play cooperatively with a friend. It also includes a variety of modes such as Capture the Flag, Decepticon Grudge Match which puts you in the enemies' shoes, Energon Capture where you have to defend your bases, Last Stand which is a survival mode, Destruction where you see how many Decepticons you can destroy, and Cube where you try to hold a cube for as long as possible. Needless to say, if you have a friend who enjoys Transformers and SRPGs, too, then you can have a lot of fun in these nifty bonus arcade modes. If not, you could always play them solo.
Transformers: Battlegrounds is an excellent SRPG for fans of the franchise. Although genre veterans may find it to be a bit too simplistic, it's still a solid and rewarding experience that anyone can enjoy, especially genre beginners.
- + Accessible and intuitive gameplay that Transformers fans of all ages can enjoy
- + Colourful visuals and great voice acting
- + Substantial amount of variety / fun co-op
- - Character growth and customization is extremely limited
- - Lack of challenge for genre veterans
- - Campaign is quite short