Transformers G1: Awakening Hands-On Preview

Today we had some exclusive hands-on time with a new title from Glu Mobile: a turn-based strategy game set in the world of Transformers. That’s the original cartoon, not the recent movies with Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. Score one for nostalgia, minus one hundred for Michael Bay.

Like similar turn-based strategy games Rogue Planet and Mecho Wars, in Transformers G1: Awakening you take turns moving your characters (the Autobots) close enough to your enemies (the Decepticons) to attack them. Certain points on the map will provide bonus damage or defense, and some maps require you to take command of resource points.

Since this is a Transformers game, you can turn your robots into cars for faster movement speed, but less attack power. Also, having your Transformers fight as a team will provide attack bonuses, so you’ll want to keep them grouped together whenever possible.

The story takes place at the beginning of the Transformers awakening, when a volcano stirs them to life after millions of years lying dormant on Earth. There are no meddling humans to interfere– this is just an Autobot and Decepticon grudge match for control of the planet.

As a mobile phone upgrade, this game seems very basic, but there are a few additions for the iPhone audience. For one, awesome 3D cutscenes punctuate every battle between the Transformers. These are short and seem to repeat often, but you can tell just by the screenshots that these cel-shaded movies add a lot of energy to the slow-paced strategy. Another addition is a pinch-to-zoom ability that lets you take in two different views of the map.

The game has been simplified a bit compared to other strategy games, and it doesn’t have nearly the amount of content of a game like Rogue Planet. While Rogue Planet promised over 100 hours of gameplay, Transformers will come in with around 27 levels lasting two to four hours total. After you beat the story mode as the Autobots, you’ll be able to take on a few extra challenge missions where you can play as either side.

Transformers looks like a more casual strategy game, and we like that it’s set in the original cartoon universe and retains that style very well, especially in the fight scenes. Although it’s a shorter experience than other strategy games, this could still be a good purchase for those who fondly remember the original cartoon. Transformers: G1 Awakening hits the App Store in February.