Yo Joe or No Joe?
After dominating the app stores with the likes of Marvel War Of Heroes and Transformers Legends, it was only a matter of time until Mobage picked up another popular franchise to add to its stable of smash-hit battling games. On paper, G.I. Joe seems like the perfect match for the genre - loads of characters, factions at war with one another, and plenty of outstanding artwork just waiting to be brought to new life on touchscreens.
In the game's story mode, you embark on a series of global, map-based missions to either destroy the forces of G.I. Joe or those of Cobra, depending on the faction you choose to take command of. As you hop around each map, gathering resources and looking for fights, you lose some of your limited energy currency - a resource that either fills back up over time, or needs to be replenished from the in-app purchase store.
As you'd expect from a Mobage game, the action is largely hands-off once you've actually entered into combat. You hit an Engage button, then characters take turns to pummel each other, with each squad member having the chance to unleash an unusually devastating attack. It's hands-off, then, and strategy instead comes from building as solid a squad as possible, assembling synergistic forces, and upgrading fighters through a very familiar "fusion" system.
One big draw of this sort of game is the option to gaze admiringly over your growing collection of powerful fighters, so it's a real shame that Battleground's artistic efforts are so lacking on the larger screen of the iPad. High quality, intricate artwork has become a standard for the genre, but here the native images are fuzzy to say the least, and clearly based on a lower resolution that's been jarringly upscaled.
Those new fighting forces are gained either through capturing enemies after a victorious bout of combat, or opening "booster" packs using collectible coin currencies. It won't surprise anyone familiar with the genre to learn that the game's best characters cost real money, and once you start factoring in the player-versus-player element of the game - not to mention the energy resource system - the air of pay-to-win is hard to shake off.
Taking everything into consideration, G.I. Joe will certainly be of at least some interest to fans of the action franchise, not to mention those who enjoy the hands-off, "deck"-management combat gameplay of this sort of title. But even taking those assumptions into account, G.I. Joe is sorely lacking in established production values and innovation, and so is very hard to recommend to a general audience.
The Android version of G.I. Joe: Battleground is not currently available to download from the Google Play service
What's Hot:All the staples of the battler genre are here, and laid over a franchise ripe for the picking.
What's Not:A lack of polish really lets the game down. Appeal will be limited to either die-hard G.I. Joe fans, or those who haven't already gorged themselves on this genre of gaming.