It's becoming harder and harder to keep up with all the Transformers games out there these days.

Seriously, does anyone even play with the toys anymore? Do Transformers still exist as anything other than smartphone game characters and [email protected]! eBay collectibles?

Well, if they don't, and you want to start rebuilding your collection, maybe Transformers: Battle Tactics is the answer.

Assuming, that is, you're looking for a virtual toy collecting app, rather than any kind of exciting Transformers game.

Franchise in disguise

At its core Transformers: Battle Tactics is an off-the-shelf turn-based combat game. It could be any selection from that particular genre, casually reskinned with super deformed robots that you might recognise from the classic toy line.

You build your team from the ranks of either the Autobots or Decepticons. It doesn't really matter which, as this isn't really a game about good and evil, just about winning matches and gathering up spendable resources.

Once assembled, your team goes into battle against players from all around the world, selected, it seems, from similarly-matched robots.

The fights are generally well balanced, and you never have to wait to get what little action there is action going given that it's an asynchronous bout.

Gaming in disguise

The combat works by rolling a kind of dice for each of your Transformers. They might roll a high number, resulting in a strong attack, or it could come in weaker from a low roll.

Whichever side rolls the highest combined number gets to strike first, which more often than not determines the outcome of the fight. Get in there first, and your chances of winning are greatly increased.

You aren't necessarily stuck with the low numbers you've rolled, as you have three Ability Points to draw upon each round. These can be used to respin the numbers for individual characters, and hopefully increase your figures.

Being Transformers, these combatants can also switch back and forth between robot and vehicle modes, which changes their strength according to the particulars of the fight you're engaged in.

Transforming really doesn't feature much beyond this slightly alternate hit count and, disappointingly, plays almost no role in the rest of Transformers: Battle Tactics.

Fun in disguise

There are multiple different resources to collect as you're going, including gold, which is what your in-app purchases will buy.

This can be spent on new characters (up to 75 of them, the best of which you aren't going to earn for free), leveling up, abilities, and speeding along your upgrades.

It's actually quite confusing figuring out what all the different resources, such as cybermetal, power tokens, league points, power cubes, and others do for you.

And that seems like a deliberate tactic to keep you off guard when it comes to spending real money.

That's not to say the game is cheap. It does give plenty away, but these layers upon layers of nebulous resources feel to have been added to give Transformers: Battle Tactics the illusion of depth and complexity, where none exists.

After a few fights, the realisation begins to creep in that this is simply not a fun game. It's not bad, and it's not especially underhanded when it comes to IAPs, but neither is it remotely engaging or action-packed.

The strategy element is almost nonexistent, and it quickly descends into an exercise in upgrading robots and passively watching them take pot shots at each other.

It looks fine and it sounds fine, but it's all gravy and no meat. You could almost believe that the developer spent so much time trying to find a new way to monetise its Transformers license that it forgot to include an actual game.