Developer: Mobage Inc.
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

No matter how you feel about Michael Bay’s take on the franchise, its hard for anyone with an even remotely geeky bent to not have at least a little soft spot for the Transformers. So whenever a new Transformers-related game rolls in, there’s always that small spark of hope that it’ll turn out more like High Moon Studios’ excellent 2010 console release Transformers: War for Cybertron and less like, well, pretty much every other Transformers game in the history of ever. [Editor’s Note: Oh you did NOT just forsake Fall of Cybertron and the one for the PlayStation 2 based on Armada!]

Transformers: Age of ExtinctionThat’s not to say that I’m expecting a full console-style experience from a free-to-play iOS release, mind you. That would be a grossly unfair burden to shoulder Transformers: Age of Extinction with. I’m speaking more to just the general level of quality, fun, and fan service that one would hope for. And while I’m not saying that it totally falls short in all these categories, it doesn’t really quite reach them either.

Age of Extinction is a runner (or occasionally, a ‘roller’ – you know, for those times your character has wheels) where your Autobot of choice goes lumbering along various stretches of open road, shooting and slicing at enemy bots along the way. Defeated enemies will drop Energon cubes, which serve as one of several different currencies used to do things like purchase new Autobots, purchase boxes of random equipment, and upgrade said purchased bots and equipment.

Each level has three different goals (usually variants of “score/kill/collect X number of points/enemies/Energon cubes”) which makes a certain level of replay essentially mandatory, as each goal scores one star on a level. Stars are used to unlock some of the characters and gaining all three stars flips the Decepticon logo on the map over to Autobot red.

Transformers: Age of ExtinctionThe biggest downside to Age of Extinction is the repetitious grind of it all. Sure most runners are somewhat repetitive by nature, but usually they have some manner of inherent addictiveness in their design that players don’t even notice that they’ve been at it for an hour straight. Here, time-gated energy recharges needed to start a level breaks that flow and, even if it didn’t, the gameplay is about as dry as the desert highway you initially find yourself on. Giant robots, plodding gracelessly along, blasting at distant enemies just loses its shine very quickly without any serious variations to the core formula. Sure, there are the occasional boss fights, but fighting them is pretty similar to fighting every other enemy – they just have a longer life bar. Also, you lack much reason to actually transform into your vehicle alt-mode, save for missions with “melee kill X enemies” conditions, as reverting from vehicle to robot form happens with a speed-flourished weapon attack at the end and it saves you a bit of time from having to slowly trudge toward distant foes.

Compared to other recent free movie tie-in games, Transformers: Age of Extinction is far from the worst (I think that honor still goes to Godzilla: Strike Zone) but it’s not especially impressive, either. Still, the game has a 100% lack of Shia LaBeouf, which I think we can all probably agree is a good thing.

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