Article: "Transformers: Earth Wars" Mobile Game Review
"Transformers Earth Wars" is the latest mobile game featuring The Transformers. Unlike its predecessors (including the now defunct "Transformers Legends" and the still-active "Angry Birds Transformers") this is a strategy style game much in the style of Clash of Clans. This is no clone however. The team at Space Ape and Backflip Studios have worked hard to bring a unique gaming experience that embraces modern day Transformers with a Generation One flair.
Disclosure: I was given some "in game loot" such as some Cyber Coins, Alloy and Energon by the kind folks at Space Ape to help get me started with this game.
"Earth Wars" is a strategy game where you play as either Autobots or Decepticons. During the course of the game you will be tasked with building a base up, obtaining resources to build said base, find new team members and upgrade your Transformers. Like most mobile games there is a "grinding" element to this where you will be repeatedly battling and building to advance. The game does feature "in app" purchases to help you advance.
Your most basic resources are "Alloy" and "Energon". These two resources allow you to build and upgrade everything from laser cannons to, buildings and even the Transformers themselves. As with much of "Transformers" fiction from the 80's and 90's, Energon is not a super plentiful resource so in general you will wind up with more Alloy than Energon from mining. Of course if you purchase these resources you can have as much as you can afford.
When you first start the game, building and upgrading takes little time (ranging from one to fifteen minutes). However as your base becomes stronger upgrades can take anywhere from one to twelve hours, so be warned. You can shortcut this by expending "Cyber Coins", a resource you are gifted for achieving certain milestones. You can of course purchase more Cyber Coins via in-app purchases.
I myself took advantage of a couple in-app deals that popped up on my screen. The cost was right (between $10-20 USD) and it really helped push me forward. For those feeling richer, there are mega packages that go up to $99!
Tip: Take into account how long something will take to build or upgrade and its cost when weighing where to direct your resources. This becomes more important as you add more elements to your base.
There is a campaign mode in this game that helps to kick off your game play. In it we learn there is some type of map being assembled by your troops. As you progress you get more and more pieces of it. The Autobots are assisted by a human named Melody Keen while the Decepticons are teamed up with Dimitri Rostov. At their launch event Space Ape did announce more and more story will be added, written by legendary "Transformers" writer Simon Furman.
Furman is not the only G1 related person to return. Both Peter Cullen and Frank Welker reprise their roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron for the game's trailers and in the game itself. There are many classic lines being read (and said in speech bubbles) including wisdom about the fine line between a hero and a memory. One of my favorite lines is Peter Cullen yelling "Reap the whirlwind!" as the Autobots charge into battle. It gets me jazzed every time!
I chose to build an Autobot team (I know, predictable) for "Earth Wars". Among the Autobots I started with were Jetfire and Prowl (via pre-registering for the game). Space Ape did something really smart here. While there is a social element to this game where you battle against other player's defenses, you don't get to do that right away. Instead the first few boards of a campaign focus on teaching you how to play. At the same time you build up your base and upgrade your characters through XP points gained in combat. This is a really smart way of warming you up to the game and preparing you for the harder battles to come.
When you do begin combat against other players, don't fret. This is not live and you won't be mashing buttons against your foes. Instead you will battle against their defenses. This adds a fascinating element to the game because other people can do the same to you, so you are given incentive to not only build up your headquarters, but you also have to smart about it. I spent a good forty five minutes messing with my base layout one night, only to see how completely ineffectual it was against Decepticon invaders the next day. Then I spent another hour the next day completely tearing it apart and redoing it (with slightly better results). I had some cool "Starcraft" flashbacks while doing it too!
When you do fight, you do have to employ strategy. Don't just send all your guys rushing in simultaneously in the same spot. Depending on where your enemy's defenses are, you may want to have them come in from the sides. Other times a direct brute force attack is warranted. As you attack, each character has a special ability. One of my favorites are the fliers who can fly to a target and blast it a few times before transforming and attacking in robot mode.
Tip: Special crystals sometimes give your team special abilities to be used once in combat such as an orbital strike or an emergency repairs on the battlefield. Unless you're buying them these appear only sparingly so don't use them up too quickly.
The heritage of Generation One comes through loud and clear in the art direction of this game. If you were a fan of the original series or the current "Generations" toy line, then you are in for a treat! Almost all the designs in this game take some blend of the G1 cartoon and "Generations" toy designs as inspiration. In some cases the designs are based directly on the toys, such as Firefly and Pyra Magna. The characters do not just look great, they have fun animations such as Ironhide pounding his fist into his palm or Optimus Prime waving his axe.
Tip:If you want to really get a good look at a particular character, tap the screen near them at your base and the camera will follow them around for a while as they patrol.
The game is not just character models of course. There are also gorgeous backgrounds and components to your base. The Autobot base has The Ark buried in the side of a mountain towards the left of the screen, and water running at the bottom of the screen calls back to some of the design elements around Autobot City in "Transformers: The Movie". The various buildings and defenses are golden colored and designed to evoke Autobot City's structure from Generation One. I was very impressed by just how much G1 aesthetic made it into this game beyond the characters themselves.
Down the road I am hoping for more variety in terms of types of combat and greater control over your individual characters. I also hope the in-app purchases do not start overwhelming the fun (as they did in "Transformers Legends").
I've been playing this game since the first day it was released to the public and I have to give it high marks. It hits a lot of the right buttons for me. The G1 references (both story, spoken and visual) are all awesome. I love the use of modern day toy models. Indeed, I now feel a lot more "connected" to my Victorion set than before since I've guided several members of her team into battle now in the game! I definitely recommend Transformers fans try this game out and have some fun!