Any fan worth his (or her) salt knows that for the authentic Transformers experience you need to forget Michael Bay’s dumb Hollywood re-imaginings and go for the original 1980s cartoon series, which thrilled legions of pre-teen children and gave birth to a multi-million pound merchandising range that continues to keep the tills ticking over even today.
“Generation One” (as devotes so lovingly refer to it) is where the entire Transformers universe began and this particular era resonates with those that consider themselves to be true experts – which is why Glu has taken the wise step of releasing a game based upon this period.
Transformers G1: Awakening is actually an adaptation of the mobile phone release of the same name.
In fact, the core gameplay is practically identical. Playing very much like other turn-based strategy titles such as Nintendo’s excellent Advance Wars and Square Enix’s sublime Final Fantasy Tactics, G1: Awakening sees you controlling a small battalion of Autobots as you attempt to defend the Earth from the unwanted attention of your mortal enemies, the evil Decepticons.
Moving your units around the grid-based map is simple enough; you merely select a robot and you’re shown which tiles he is able to move to in that turn. Tapping one of these will cause him to slide gracefully into position (sadly there’s no walking animation to speak of). Some robots have alternative modes which allow faster movement – cars and planes, to name but two – but when transformed into these vehicles they are unable to defend themselves.
Combat is a matter of getting your robot alongside an opponent and tapping the attack option. The result of each encounter rests on a surprisingly wide range of factors, including terrain, proximity of allies and – of course – the strength of each unit.
For example, Autobot leader Optimus Prime is especially handy in a scrap but medical officer Ratchet is less adept with a blaster; his unique skill lies in repairing friendly units. Certain robots are capable of ranged attacks which mean they can damage an enemy from a distance and avoid having to take any punishment in return.
Dominating the battlefield and taking down your rival is merely one facet of G1: Awakening’s gameplay; you’ll also need to acquire the power source Energon in order to perform other tasks. For example, some of your units are capable of calling in allies, but to do this you need a certain amount of Energon Cubes in reserve.
Thankfully it’s possible to harness power stations and electric pylons to gain this resource, but you should be aware that your enemy has exactly the same idea and it’s not unusual to see the opening few turns of each mission degenerate into a mad dash for the valuable power stations dotted around the map.
Visually G1: Awakening is a huge step up from its mobile predecessor. The game world looks fantastic and effortlessly captures the colourful aesthetic of the original TV show; the battle segments – which kick in whenever a combat situation occurs – are equally pleasing, with chunky 3D representations of all your favourite characters.
There are some niggles, though; because of the way the map is angled it’s sometimes hard to tap the tile you want; units can become obscured by other objects and there’s sadly no way of rotating the viewpoint to get a clear perspective. The battle animations also become rather repetitive after you’ve seen them a few times but thankfully there is the option to switch them off entirely, which speeds things up.
The campaign doesn’t last all that long when compared to other examples of this genre but the intelligent scripting and sheer volume of fan-service (many of the missions are named after episodes of the original TV show, for example) make it relatively easy to overlook this.
Transformers aficionados will quite simply adore this game and even if you’re too young to remember the original Saturday morning exploits of Optimus Prime and Megatron, there’s still enough tactical brilliance here to keep you well entertained.
Transformers G1: Awakening info
Website/Demo: Glu website