Bud Reviews: Angry Birds Transformers (iOS, iPad Mini)
So it's a simple concept. Take two franchises and mash them together. Tadaaaa.....you get Angry Birds Transformers. The newest game from Rovio involving their emotionally rampant avian variety vs. the swines mixed with our robotic friends on Cybertron.
This isn't your usual Angry Birds (AB for short) game, it's a rail shooter mixed with a runner. They introduced the title with an awesome trailer akin to the Transformers 80s animated cartoon with the music composed by non other than Transformers legend Vince DiCola. That man is a genius at synth. I highly recommend you see it regardless of the review, it's so much nostalgia. Anyways, the game's premise is that the Eggspark converted the eggs into evil monsters that want to cyberform the universe of angry birds. As with the Transformers, you have Autobirds (ala Autobots) and Deceptihogs (Decepticons), two factions that have united to stop the egg menace. Seriously watch the trailer, it's all there.
In this side scrolling rail shooter, you use your touch screen to aim at enemies and their famous angry bird structures to get coins and pig score. All this while things are shooting at you and pillars are falling in your path. You have to use your transforming ability to bypass obstacles like the pillars or dodge oncoming attacks. Another cool feature was calling down support in the form of another transformer from your friends list or online. Your buddy's character enters the game for a cooldown time, does some damage and leaves. The game's world is similar to that of boom beach, you have a map and different locations that need liberation from the egg menace. You gain coins that help you upgrade your characters. As is typical of freemium games, you have a set amount of missions that can be completed in one sitting. Gotta wait until new levels are ready to be played. Waiting is also a thing when upgrading characters. Of course with the freemium games, you have gems that can speed up the process.
The music is amazing and so is the audio. Vince Dicola graciously composed the menu and level music. It is upbeat 80's style and has riffs that remind us all of the real Transformers movie. The character designs and animations are funny, interesting, and flawless. Though I'm going to dock points for having flames on Optimus.The levels are elaborate and very dynamic. The beach vista is impressive graphically and relaxing. The actual game is very fun. From the time Astrotrain drops you into the level until he picks you up, you are in one hell of an action sequence, shooting and dogding and calculating where is the best place to fire at so that the structure falls. It's definitely an Angry Birds game at its core. Rovio excelled in the mechanics and delivery. Enemies are varied and quite satisfying when you finally shoot them. The funny dances the characters make always kept me engaged and enjoying their presence. I'd try different characters only to see what they'll do. Oh and there are lots of characters. Each has different specs that changes the way you play. Their transformations are very smooth and beautiful I have to say. Each transformer blends perfectly with their angry bird counterpart. The Deceptihogs are even more fun.
So the game overall is incredible and a very fresh addition to the mobile gaming scene and Angry Birds. Where does it go wrong?
The game pushes you to upgrade aggressively and to spend your hard earned cash. It doesn't give you that much cash either. You're shooting stuff just to get 1 measly coin. At the end of each match you have the chance to double your rewards by watching an ad, which helps, but it means you're watching an ad before and after each game. Which I found excruciating. Too much advertising is one big drawback. There is a "Jenga" level in the world that costs $10 to unlock. It is written in large font and constantly expands and contracts calling attention to itself. Finally, in the advertising department, you have the Transformers. A franchise built on making 30 minute commercials as children's programing. Then becoming 2 hours and 45 minute commercials in the form of movies.
The gameplay gets frustrating as the AI constantly one ups you in moments they know you can't react fast enough. I found myself dying over and over just because I was focusing on one thing and suddenly missiles hit me that I couldn't actually hit. It didn't feel balanced, and that's why I was frustrated. The music, as good as it is, gets very repetitive since it's just that one song and you're going to play these levels a lot. The music gets interrupted in a slow motion animation when you call your buddy, another point I didn't like. It became extremely difficult to dodge anything especially after these giant rock pigs shoot flaming rocks at you. You're just there taking shots from anyone and anything, which made me feel powerless. Do you want me to play the game and win or are you just shooting me till my health bar drops? Finally, it gets extremely repetitive. Even though levels change frequently and so do the enemies and their locations, it's still the same .....point to shoot at things and hope you make it to the end. I wanted to unlock Stella as Arcee (the fembot), and was disappointed, she's not even in the game! They just had reskins of the existing characters as new characters to unlock. Energon Galvatron was a better spec character than Galvatron and so on. So I didn't feel I was going somewhere, the level difficulty scaled with the character level, so I wasn't really advancing anywhere.
Given that it was clearly a huge effort to inject both franchises with a new concept, the balance in the gameplay and no closure bugged me. They had small comic strips between some levels which were entertaining, but I had no end to what I was doing. It felt as if I was just playing on and on and on.
Despite its balance and repetitiveness, this game brings in new ideas and creates a whole universe from two staples of modern media. It stays true to its Angry Birds roots and brings in the Transformers universe comprehensively. As a Transformers fan, having G1 everywhere was such a sight for sore eyes. Rovio showed Michael Bay that Transformers can be fun, identifiable and interesting. I really hope they update the balance and push Vince to make some more tracks to change things up.
VERDICT (amended on Dec 9, 2014):
Angry Bird Transformers gets a B on the B.U.D scale:
It's a very fun game to play. It introduces a new gameplay style to the market that utilizes your touchscreen effectively and is more dynamic than any Angry Birds game. It definitely has charisma that will keep you enjoying it for a long time. Just be careful from being too addicted to its freemium model.