It was always about Lego for me when I was growing up, Lego and Matchbox cars. Without wanting to call on too many trademarks, I could never understand the fascination some of my friends had with Transformers. Was it a macho thing, watching big mecha robots fighting it out, or were kids actually fascinated by the Autobots' ability to transform? I always assumed it was the latter, and puzzled as to why folks didn't just buy thousands of Lego bricks, which you could 'transform' into pretty much anything.
Five minutes play on Awakening suggests that, actually, it was the sheer firepower of the Transformers that kept those kids transfixed. Glu's strategy title is full of guns, laser beams and big metal men looking pretty fearsome. More than anything, Transformers: G1 Awakening seems to be bursting with fun. While it has its roots in sheer strategy, with play focusing of the movement of the robots at your command around each of the game's maps, Awakening doesn't actually play like a game that takes itself too seriously.
Though the latter levels may turn out to prove a harder tussle, the opening segments of play seem to suggest that robots going toe to toe against each other in a battle of the stats doesn't have to be heavy.
Objectives tend to revolve around taking out enemy threats and securing points of power, like electrical lines or power stations, but assigning the right unit to deal with each task appears to be the key here – it's easy to lose units simply because you've sent the slow coaches to secure outposts while leaving the weaklings to take on approaching enemy bots. This will probably be one of those titles that'll require repeated play-throughs before to golden strategy becomes apparent.
That might sound like an especially daunting task for anyone who didn't side with either the Autobots or the Decepticons when they were growing up, but - while opening rounds are sandwiched by fairly lengthy passages of dialogue that contextualise either what's already happened or what's about to happen, they're easily skipped, allowing action to just be a few short button taps away. On the other hand, I'm sure those of us who have helped top up Hasbro's profits over the years will have plenty of plot to bite into here.
It's this fine balance - between satisfying the fans and courting newcomers - that suggests Awakening could be one of the few licensed titles that reaches out beyond its already established audience and grows new shoots. Similarly, if Glu can continue the game's accessible approach to strategy, keeping the challenge high but maintaining the ease of control conveyed here all the way through to the final game, then the publisher just might have something special on its hands.
Of course, the problem with that is, I may well have to sell off all my Lego on eBay just to be able to afford my very own Optimus Prime now. To keep track of Transformers: G1 Awakening's progress, look out for our forthcoming review by clicking on 'Track it!'