Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is the third game in the War of Cybertron series and the fourth game in the movie franchise. This title moves between both settings and acts as a prequel to Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and a sequel to new movie Transformers: Age of Extinction. Question is though, is this a Prime example of another bad movie tie-in game or a game so good you’ll me Starscreaming about it to your friends? Okay no more puns. I promise not to Roll Out anymore…
The game opens with a mysterious purple comet hurtling through space and crashing down on earth, luckily Drift, one of the newest Autobots you’ll be able to see in the Michael Bay film is on hand to investigate. After meeting up with Optimus and Bumblebee it’s revealed that the comet was in fact the Dark Spark and once Lockdown gets his hands on it Optimus begins to explain the origins of the Dark Spark, leading nicely into the War of Cybertron section of the game.
The controls for Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark are simple, and the tutorial within the game with Drift is well done. Switching between vehicle mode/vehicle mode with guns coming out of every orifice is pretty simple and can be done whilst in the air, so if you’re a character that can fly and you accidentally back off an edge, you can save yourself. Alternatively, if you transform into a car and do the same thing, you’re an idiot.
Weapons choice within the game is pretty good actually and one of the more fun parts, the fact that you can have a Transformer carry the weapon you want it to. There’s a standard primary weapon slot, which could be filled with and assault rifle, a shotgun, maybe even a rocket launcher? Or how about the Throwback Blaster. A pistol that fires lasers like back in the day on Transformers! And then there is the secondary weapon slot, the heavy weapon.
These weapons vary vastly, from the Gear Shredder, that fires blades that can ricochet and rip enemies apart. To the Corrosive Slime Cannon, which kind of does exactly what it says in its name. As well as two weapons, your Transformer can add ‘Hacks’ to their loadout. Hacks will provide help in one way but there is a consequence, for example, you have a quicker fire rate but enemies have more health. So depending on how you play, depends on what Hack would be best for you.
Gameplay in Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, for me falls flat. It’s nothing incredibly special. The general rule of thumb is switch between Autobots and Decepticons as one faction avoids the other but always seems to bump into their enemy and a gun fight ensues. Nothing overly exciting or new and it’s pretty easy to complete a level. At least it is eventually. Another problem that I had with the game is that Missions seemed long and therefore got boring quickly.
If the Transformer you are playing as is wheel based when it does transform I felt there was not much opportunity for the vehicle side of the Transformer to really shine. IF they flew though, that was a different story. Being able to Transform into a jet as you play as Starscream really was good and you could quickly take advantage of the battlefield using the old air superiority trick. It just wasn’t quite enough to make the missions more enjoyable.
There is a saving grace within the game though. The online ‘Extinction’ game mode. Extinction sees you and up to three other players face waves of enemies for 15 rounds. Getting harder, and sometimes even bigger as you progress. You can play as either Autobots or Decpticons online, but never mixed. You can, just like in the games campaign, set up loadouts using items you’ve unlocked through gearboxes. Gearboxes are packs that hold in them varying objects, from weapons to weapon upgrades as well as new characters. There are four different tiers of Gearboxes too. Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Prime.
You are more likely to get better, more sought after items depending on which box you unlock. There’s an easy way to unlock lots, very early on, and rather easily. Play Extinction. After getting a bit bored of the campaign early on I took a break and tried Extinction, I had already unlocked a few things but wanted some characters…Bumblebee. I wanted Bumblebee. Anyway, after only my second attempt at Extinction myself and two other Autobots survived all 15 rounds and by the time all the scores were tallied up I had unlocked quite a few Gearboxes. If I’m not mistaken it was 8 Bronze, 4 Silver, 2 Gold and 1 Prime. You’ll be pleased to know I unlocked Bumblebee and a host of other weapons and upgrades.
Extinction is probably the only saving grace in Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark in my opinion. The problem with it though is it isn’t enough to carry the game by itself.
Visuals of the game are a little hit and miss. The Transformers are pretty good, but at times, especially the mission with Sideswipe and Ironhide they seem like they’re one glow stick away from a terrible part in Ibiza. The structures are simple and fit in well with the Cybertron feel but the games ‘background’ leaves little to the imagination. It’s as if the further you get away from the Transformer to less effort the games developer, Edge of Reality, put in. Maybe that’s me having too high an expectation?
Overall, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is a game that’s neither here or there. It’s as if Activision have said “We want to make a movie-tie in, but at the same time don’t. But don’t forget War of Cybertron. Now go do something” I think more time should have been spent on either developing two separate games. Because people who may of only been looking for a movie-tie in game will be disappointed when they have to head to Cybertron. I also feel bridging the gap between Transformer: Dark of the Moon and Transformers: Age of Extinction would have been a better game for fans of the Movies.
If your’re a fan of the War of Cybertron games, I think you’ll like this. If you’re only a fan of the Movie franchise I would give this game a miss.
Share your thoughts on Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark in the comments below! Do you agree with me or am I completely wrong?
This review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark.