G.I. Joe Battleground is the new freemium card game for iOS and Android devices (although only the iOS version is currently avaiable). As a long time Joe fan and Larry Hama zealot, I decided to give the game a try and see how it went. After spending some time with it I can’t say it’s all that impressive and I think I prefer Mobage’s Transformers Legends a bit better, but that’s mainly due to slowdown, bugs and other issues plaguing this first build of Battleground. here now are ten quick thoughts on the early stages of the game.
1. I was really hoping for the old cartoon theme song. Alas it’s not here. The music that IS here is a bit generic. There’s a kind of half-assed homage to it though.
2. Beachhead is the drill instructor of the tutorial. Perfect! He was always one of my favorite Joes and the homage to the movie is complete with you using Jynx and Lt. Falcon. You eventually get Chuckles but you’ll only keep Falcon out of the four playable characters in the tutorial.
3. You progress on a board game like field ala Dragon Age Legends and slow lose stamina points as you move around the board. Combat starts when you land on a piece of the board with another character on it. In the tutorial your first battle is your two guys and Beachhead against Gung Ho, Wild Bill and Flash.
4. Combat is completely automated and is based on the stats of your characters. It’s exactly like the Transformers Legends game in this regard, but with a squad of three instead of three squads of three. A bit sad there isn’t more of a strategic aspect to the game, but it’s still cute. Eventually when you get through the tutorial you’ll get
5. Characters have different XP growth rates ala Pokemon where fast, normal and slow characters have their own XP track rate. Fast level up faster but appear to get less stats per level, Normal balances XP needed to level up and stat growth while Slow characters take a long time to level up but get massive boosts for it. Character stats are Hit Points, Attack, Defense, Agility, and Tactics. Each character has one or more special skills. Lt. Falcon for example has Stunning Blast where he has a chance to stun an antagonist and prevent them from attacking on their turn. Beachhead can heal an ally and as a leader character has a small chance of doing massive damage by summoning a vehicle – in Beachhead’s case it is a Mobat.
6. After the tutorial, you pick a potential leader – Duke, Flint, Scarlet or Snake Eyes. I assume that, like myself, most people are going to choose Snake Eyes. Duke is the most balanced, Scarlet has the highest Attack and Tactics score, Flint is the most defensive, and Snake Eyes has the highest agility. You also get to pick a Cobra leader from Cobra Commander, Destro, Baroness and Storm Shadow. Cobra Commander has the higher Tactics but the least Hit Points. Destro is above average in everything except Defense, Baroness is the most balanced and Storm Shadow has the highest Agility and Attack. I chose Cobra Commander as I was getting a free Storm Shadow anyway. If you want a free Storm Shadow of your own, here’s my invite code which will get you one: L73ucQ
7. The game next gives you three common recruits. I got Low-Light, a Cobra Infantry grunt and Copperhead.
8. You get bonuses for logging in every day. The first is an upgrade to Lt. Falcon for example.
9. There are various ways to improve your character. You can give medals to raise a specific stat, you can upgrade by sacrificing cards to another one to improve them (up to eight at a time) and you can promote card by combining it with another version of itself.
10. Gameplay then has you taking each squad of Joes and Cobras around the board (multiple paths), doing battles in an attempt to get items, XP and new cards. To get anything remotely good you WILL have to pay for it (Yay freemium games…), but that’s to be expected with this style of game and at least you can play the story campaign without any real purchases. Just know PvP is a case of “S/He who spends the most money wins.”
All in all, it’s okay for a free game. It’s a bit dull and repetitive, but there’s a surprising amount of fun in collecting G.I. Joe cards and seeing who all is in the game. It’s not really the sort of game I can see myself spending much time with as I don’t care for the style of this or Transformers Legends, but I WOULD love to see a SRPG using the Joes. The game is a lot slower and even has some slowdown and framerate issues which are not in T:L, so that’s worth noting as well. Hey, at least it’s free so you can download and see what you think for yourself.