Game review: Transformers: Rise Of The Dark Spark

I remember when i was younger switching on the TV to hear that famous theme tune with guys like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee kicking the backsides of Megatron and Starscream on a daily basis.

The Transformers cartoon was a huge success and so too was the recent film trilogy with a new entry on the way set to be a biggie. The video games however were hit and miss at best, the only real memorable Transformers game was 2012’s Fall of Cybertron, the rest were mediocre attempts at cashing in on the Transformers franchise. The release of Edge of Reality’s new entry in the Transformers series of games is now upon us named Fall of the Dark Spark out now for all formats published by Activision. It acts as a prequel to Fall of Cybertron and also a sequel to the upcoming film Age of Extinction.

Transformers: Rise Of The Dark Spark

Transformers: Rise Of The Dark Spark

The story is a bleak one circulating around a powerful artefact, the Dark Spark. The Decepticons are trying to obtain it to destroy Cybertron and the Autobots are trying to stop them. Whilst easy to follow it is ultimately forgettable with very little content on story twists or interesting directions. The narrative is explained through a series of cut scenes which are badly designed and rough looking although the dialogue does have some amusing moments. Optimus is still the stern instructive leader everyone knows and loves and Starscream is still Megatrons whiney lackey so every characters well known traits are intact here. The biggest issue with the campaign mode is the messy character placements, one minute you’re a Autobot doing the good thing, the next you’re a Decepticon doing a level to help their fight against the Autobots and its this inconsistency that makes you wonder whose side you’re really on.

Rise of The Dark Spark keeps the third person shooter gameplay known from the rest of the Cybertron games. Your Transformer can aim and shoot your main weapon the same as seen in many other third person shooters however the action is monotone and unexciting. Constantly moving around whilst hiding behind obstacles to use as cover is what you will spend a third of the game doing. Transforming into your characters vehicle mode is a pointless mechanic as it is severely underused except for a few flying levels. These are the highlight of the whole game, hovering around shooting enemies is a pleasant change from the mundane run and gun ground battling. The amount of guns on offer is quite impressive with assault rifles, shotguns and also heavy weapons like the corrosive slime launcher which can be switched to at anytime although the ammunition runs out fast. Your Transformer also has a special unique ability which can be used when a dedicated gauge is filled up enough. These range from Drift’s Dash and Slice attack which takes out all enemies within a short distance away from you to Jazz’s grappling hook ability to help traverse to higher ground, the attacking abilities though are overpowered but makes the mindless enemy AI that little bit more bearable. Perks in the form of hacks, weapon upgrades and new characters to use in the multiplayer mode Escalation can be unlocked by levelling up in the campaign which awards you with Gear boxes which act like Battlefield 4’s battlepacks. Escalation is the only multiplayer mode on offer in Rise of The Dark Spark which pits you as the Transformer of your choice and up to three other players against waves of increasingly difficult enemies which feels nothing more than a meagre take on the fantastic Horde mode from Gears of War.

The visuals are way below par especially on next gen consoles. The character models take on the looks of their silver screen iterations however at times during the campaign they all take on the same colour palette, red for Autobots and purple for Decepticons and green for Insecticons. Whilst it makes it easy to identify baddie from goodie, it takes away the uniqueness of each individual Transformer and when the dialogue is playing, you have no clue which onscreen character is talking. Also the levels have downscaled so there is no level like the one from Fall of Cybertron where you are fighting whilst the skyscraper sized Metroplex can be seen wreaking havoc in the background. It was a sight to behold, but nothing comes close in Rise of The Dark Spark.

Summary

Transformers: Rise of The Dark Spark is nothing more than a bland and unexciting third person shooter. The combat is samey and never grows to a climax and the vehicle mode is underused and pointless although the flying sections are good. The graphics are grubby and rough which declines significantly in the cut scenes, not bad multiplayer though.

Story - 2/5

Graphics - 2/5

Gameplay - 3/5

Overall - 2/5

Version reviewed - PlayStation 4