Saturday, 12 July 2014

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark

Since the creation of the Transformers in the 1980's, the franchise has been a constant crowd pleaser around the world. From cartoons, videogames, films, toys and comics, Transformers mania hit its peak during the late 80's/early 90's. Though it never really went away, the Transformers weren't nearly as big in the late 90's/early 2000's as they were before. They still had a massive following in Japan but in the West, outside of hardcore Transformers fans, they weren't highly sought after. Then in 2007 Michael Bay brought his vision of the franchise to the big screen. Though he went on record initially calling the beloved toy franchise a "stupid toy movie", Bay went on to direct the film that became a worldwide blockbuster. Though the quality of Bay's movies aren't exactly impressive, he did succeed in resurrecting a franchise that was an 1980's relic, at least in the West. Since Bay's reboot of the franchise we've seen a whole host of tie-ins, but this one is a little different as it tries to crossover both the universes of the movie and videogame franchises. Interesting to say the least, but does it work?

Developed by Edge of Reality and out now on multiple platforms comes Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, proof that almost every videogame tie-in is inherently shit. As I mentioned before, Rise of the Dark Spark is a crossover between the Transformers videogame and film universes, namely Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and Transformers: Age of Extinction respectively. The crossover occurs when the Dark Spark, an ancient and powerful relic, merges two universes together by ripping a wormhole in time and space. From fighting on Earth as the film universe Transformers and on Cybertron as the videogames universe Transformers, Rise of the Dark Spark's story is unique but a wasted idea.

The sad part about Rise of the Dark Spark is when it comes down to it, it's just a generic third-person military shooter. In gaming you should always kick off a game with a bang, but in Rise of the Dark Spark it's more like a whimper. The first mission puts you in the role of Drift, a Japanese Autobot that uses, yeah, you guessed it, a katana. But don't get ahead of yourself, as while it may sound pretty awesome, it's really, really not. The first level sums up the entirety of the game perfectly; narrow corridors, cover based shooting, uninspiring environments, bland textures, and terrible voice acting (apart from Peter Cullen, obviously!). There's nothing new here, and even when the action cuts to the war on Cybertron, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. Sure you get to play as a whole bunch of Transformers, and there's a whole secondary campaign in which you take control of the evil Decepticons... but it's just boring, quite frankly. Even transforming into the many vehicles at hand is tiresome, which always comes in the form of either over shooting your mark, or getting stuck behind a wall at full speed.

Another major problem here is that during Rise of the Dark Spark when you control any given Transformer, it doesn't feel like a Transformer. In 2004 Melbourne House developed a game simply titled Transformers. It was once again a third-person shooter, but the levels had scope and gave the player the feeling of being a large, heavy and powerful Transformer. You could drive off a high cliff in South America only to transform in mid-air and touch down with an Earth shaking thud. Rise of the Dark Spark doesn't have this feeling, and this leads to the environments looking small and puny, rather than small because you're HUGE. There's no feeling of authenticity here at all, and that's the games greatest weakness.

Overall Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is a huge disappointment. The previous titles in the series were pretty great, but with the departure of developer High Noon Studios comes a very noticeable drop in quality. Rather than it feeling like a worthy use of the Transformers franchise, it just comes across like a cheap tie-in and cash grabber. A shame really, but Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark falls flat.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark doesn't rise to the occasion and gets a 2/5.


Denis Murphy

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark at CeX

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