By Mohammad Abubakr
Whether you are a fan of the comics, TV shows, or movies, we have all heard of The Transformers. These robots with the ability to transform into vehicles are loved by many all over the world. Knowing this, Hasbro and Jagex have teamed up to release a free to play online Transformers game. Which side will you be on? Will you fight the Decepticons or kill off the Autobots?
Transformers Universe is an online free to play... shooter? This game is a mix of many types of games including shooters and RPGs (role playing game). You play the game from the 3rd person perspective and at first look it looks just like any other shooter game. However, there are skills and stats available making it a little more like RPGs. Even the shooting portion of the game differs from the traditional shooters you see on the market. The combat consists of locking on to enemies, there is no cross hair used to aim your weapon. These features make Transformers Universe make up a unique type of game featuring elements from multiple genres being labeled as a MOTA.
As mentioned above, the game features a control scheme most people would not expect. In the Transformer mode, players can move using the WASD keys and aim with their mouse. You do not have a cross hair and must simply lock on to enemies by holding the right click button and then using your weapon of choice. When in the vehicle mode, the driving feels a little bit awkward. You cannot turn with the WASD keys as is expected when the Transformers movement is using those same keys but you accelerate and brake with WS and turn with the mouse. It takes some time to get used to but even now I prefer having the mouse to change camera and turn with keys when driving a vehicle.
Players enter the battle field with their choice of warriors. I was hoping for the ability to create my own unique Transformers by mixing and matching skills and weapons. Instead we are locked to Transformer templates called warriors. There are many warriors available in the game with many more to come in the future. These warriors must be unlocked by using in game or cash shop currency. As expected, there are warriors of many types allowing players to play with their own unique play styles. Some are better suited for absorbing damage while others support and heal the team. It is unfortunate to see some warriors being limited to only paying users by requiring the purchase of founder packs.
These warriors have three weapons and three skills. Each of the weapons have special abilities which can be used if players have enough energy that is regenerated over time. Skills are different for each warrior including shields and power ups.
Players can also purchase warrior skins, consumables, and items such as augments providing bonus stats. Skins are basically different colours of paint on your warriors but having some customization is appreciated. Consumables allow you to gain bonuses for a short amount of time and have limited uses. Augments and other items are similar to equipment found in RPG games as they provide bonus stats. Some of these items exist only for a limited time and must be crafted again after expiry.
Aside from the founder warriors, everything is available even for free players. At the end of each match two currencies are rewarded to players: Energon and Relics. Relics are the same currency given to paying players but is given out at a reduced rate at the end of each match. Theoretically you are able to buy anything as free players, but you gain Relics at a much slower rate than Energon.
Alongside receiving Energon and Relics at the conclusion of each match, you also gain experience points which can be spent to level up your warriors. These points received after leveling up can be spent to increase the stats of your choice. It is important to keep in mind that stats are linked to each warrior and not to your account. Your account has an overall level but each warrior has separate stats.
Once you are done customizing and selecting your warrior, you can queue up for matches. In the beta the queuing algorithm seems to be quite buggy as it keeps jumping between game types, causing you to waste a lot of time waiting for matches. You cannot select maps or matches and it is up to the system to decide for you.
There are currently two game modes available in the game: Elimination and Meteor Storm. Elimination is your traditional death match mode where teams fight to reach the kill target within a limited time. Usually this is one of my favourite game modes but it just feels so slow in Transformers Universe. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to kill a warrior and when someone gets low, they simply transform into their vehicle form and run away. To top it off, your shield and health regenerates over time even if you do not have a healer on your team! This makes the combat feel very slow and causes these matches to last very long.
Meteor Storm still has the same problem of kills taking too long but since it is not focused around kills, it is a bit more bearable. This game mode is a King of the Hill mode where your team must control points to harvest energy from meteors. Teams race to reach the target within the time limit.
In each of these game modes, if your warrior dies, it is out of combat for some time. You must select a different warrior until your fallen warriors can be repaired. You also have the option to spend relics for an instant respawn.
Even the game engine isn't highly optimized and doesn't run smoothly at times on my high end machine. This comprise had to be made to offer the game in the web browser but I would rather have a beautiful and smooth game that only runs out of the browser. The web browser version runs even slower than the desktop client. I feel that Jagex was aiming for a younger audience and this can be seen by the players found in game. These optimizations and other bugs should be fixed by release... hopefully.
State of the Beta: Stay away unless you like a slow game.
The game had a lot of potential with Transformers battling each other in a fast paced environment but they didn't pull it off. The game feels very slow and easy due to the high health, regeneration, and lock on attacks. I do not see the overall game play changing even after the beta so we cannot hope that official release will be any better. I was really expecting and hoping for more fast paced action when it came to Transformers. There are still some features such as missions to be added after beta but these things cannot change my opinion of the game. There are a lot better games on the market and the only reason to play this game is because it is related to the Transformers. Even then, I would just play the single player Transformer games.
Want to see it in action? Catch JamesBl0nde's first look at MMOHuts now.