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Transformers Legends

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Less than meets the eye

Product: Transformers Legends | Publisher: Mobage | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card battler | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.4
Transformers Legends iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the link to jump to day three or day seven.

Stop what you're doing. No, it can't be that important - just stop. Yes, even you. Go and watch this.

That is the sound of the wet Sunday afternoons of my childhood. Individual episodes of the third season of Transformers, on a much-loved and well-worn VHS, on repeat.

That soundtrack was etched into my tiny impressionable child mind, just as it's now lodged in my tiny stubborn adult mind.

And now, ngmoco has decided to make a freemium card battler based on the franchise I adore. Let's take a look.

First impressions

You're immediately asked to pick a side and a leader. Not being some kind of emo jerk from the noughties, I picked Autobots. Also, I like science, so I went with Wheeljack as my leader.

The first thing you'll notice is the visuals. This is a dedicated app for the ensuing card-battles, and it's consequently of much higher quality than the usual browser-based efforts. This allows the game to produce sharp-looking cards, fancy animations, and - shock horror - sounds.

In addition, it allows the game to pull off its one truly unique graphical trick: it attempts to mimic the 3D hologram cards of yore.

You remember those faux-three dimensional bits of plastic and card with famous characters on? The ones you'd find in cereal boxes? The game mimics the look of them with a significant portion of the cards in its deck.

It's a neat look, to be sure, and it's utterly mesmerising for five minutes. The effect is convincing, and it's a novel bonus to show your pals. But it's ultimately a gimmick, and after a while you'll stop taking any notice.

IAPs explained
There's just the one currency in Transformers Legends: CyberCash.

100 CyberCash is yours for 69p / 99c, but you'll need all of that for just a single recharge of Energon or Battle Cubes, and a whopping 300 for a rare (randomly chosen) card.
The music is a different sort of epic to that which I remember. It's a rousing blend of orchestral and digital that seems far more influenced by the movies than the G1 cartoons.

Other than that, from what I've played it's largely business as usual for the nuts and bolts card-battling gameplay. I'll talk about it a bit more in a few days' time, as I'm now far too busy ordering Transformers box sets off eBay to continue this review.

Day 3: Let's roll!!! (... out another card battler)

My suspicions have been confirmed after three days of playing Transformers Legends: this is another card battler that follows all of the genre's standard cues.

That means you're going to like Transformers Legends exactly as much as you like card battlers generally.

To be fair to the game, it is distinguished from much of its ilk by a small element of physical skill. Whenever you go through the single-player campaign you run the risk of being attacked by missile-firing enemies, and if you tap these projectiles as they're inbound you're awarded Credits.

These Credits are used as a fee while upgrading the cards you earn. You can sacrifice up to eight cards at once to one card, which will then increase in level and power. For every character card there's also an accompanying card which details their transformation, and should you find both you can combine them for a stronger card.

The single-player missions see you finding cards at a steady rate, and you can also win them by a variety of methods, including visiting the Space Bridge daily, being awarded medals during combat, building Battle Points through PvP, and so on.

The compulsive quality of seeing everything in this card collection is definitely there, especially for someone who - like me - thinks the Transformers universe is pretty cool.

Transformers Legends has my attention, then, but I'm not exactly gripped.

Day 7: I always preferred turtles

My box set of Transformers has arrived, and after watching a few episodes the momentum of my Transformers fandom revival has slowed.

This is more or less how I feel about the card game as well: after the shiny newness has worn off, I'm left playing a totally serviceable card battler that's clearly re-treading old ground.

The gameplay is unchanging: you slog through the single-player until your energy runs out, dive into the PvP to use up Battle Cubes, and finally head to your Base to combine cards and sacrifice others.

This is stuff you've probably done before if you've played a card battler, and you'll find it either comfortably or tediously familiar.

Transformers Legends is a bit more challenging than your regular battler, admittedly, as some boss encounters act as significant barriers to the new cards that lay beyond them.

You'll have to go back and grind to get new cards, and then sacrifice those you earn to other cards in order to make them stronger, just so you can beat the boss and move on.

There's also an attempt at depth in the weapon system, whereby the game assigns weapons to the various Transformers which affect their performance in combat. In reality, though, this is just another thing to collect and upgrade through grinding, even if you do get rewarded with increased fighting stats for certain combinations of weapon and hero.

As usual, there are also hidden mathematical strategies you can employ to cheese the system and get the most card bang from your IAP buck, but they're not really explained anywhere in the game, so you'll have to invest serious time into learning these numerical nuances.

If you've played a card battler before and you fancy one with a nice Transformers theme to it, knock yourself out. If you fancy trying the genre out, this is as good a place to start as any. But if you're growing tired of this staid genre then Transformers Legends won't revitalise your interest.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Transformers Legends
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 9 May 2013
Transformers Legends is a card battler. You know how these play by now, so the only question is: do you want want that features Transformers?
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