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'Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark' Video Game Impressions

Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons, but is it a fight you'll want to dive into?

Love or hate Michael Bay's Transformers movies, there's just no denying these projects have boosted the franchise's popularity. With the next movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, just days away, this new game (by Edge of Reality and Activision) establishes a connection to its characters.

The story here is pretty simple. There's this object called the Dark Spark and it's essentially the evil twin of the Matrix of Leadership (no, it doesn't have a mustache). Needless to say, this means everyone wants to get their hands on the artifact for their own reasons. Lockdown, the villain in the upcoming movie, wants to use its power, and the Autobots and Decepticons are also fighting to obtain the powerful item. As Lockdown lurks behind the scenes, you'll jump between the two iconic teams as they try to one-up each other and get their hands on the Dark Spark. Oh, and good luck keeping track of how many times they say "Dark Spark" throughout the campaign!

The campaign offers simple yet enjoyable third-person gameplay. It really isn't bringing anything new to the table and just aims to make sure you have a blast shooting at an onslaught of enemies. Movement is thankfully fluid and one of the most joyous things you can do in this game is rush at your foes in vehicle mode and then swiftly transform back when you get near them and melee or blast apart your enemies. It's a simple pleasure that really never got old. Plus, I'd be doing you a major disservice if I didn't add that Peter Cullen did provide Optimus Prime's voice in this game. You can't help but feel epic when you step into the character's massive robotic feet and slay your opponents as Cullen provides commentary.

The simplistic third-person combat kept me entertained, especially since each character has slightly different gameplay styles, but there was also plenty to unlock and upgrade. You can modify your weapons to make them more effective in certain areas (you know, less recoil, more ammo, etc.) and you also have various HACKS and T.E.C.H. items to utilize. Depending on how you play, many of these can serve as very beneficial and give the game just a little more variety.

Escalation Mode is what'll keep you coming back for more. We've seen this kind of mode in games like Gears of War (Horde Mode) and countless other franchises, and the reason we see it so often is very simple: it's exciting! Battling waves alone is a good time, but this mode has added various ways to boot your chances. You'll earn resources as you progress and you can use said resources for various items such as turrets, barriers, decoys, and more. And yes, they're upgradable, too! Apparently, there's over 40 characters you can unlock to use in this challenge and I had a great time trying to survive against wave after wave on each map. I was all by myself, so I can only imagine how fun it would be if you get 1-3 friends on your side and actually use teamwork as you fight to survive the increasingly challenging waves.

I played the game on the Xbox 360 and honestly, the graphics never impressed. I encountered texture pop-in quite a bit and, while the character models and effects aren't shabby, most of the levels give off a somewhat bland atmosphere and don't allow you to truly feel immersed in these unique settings. Visually, the game's just satisfactory. There aren't big enough issues that distract your eyes, but your eyes will never really be blown away, either. Oh, and it's worth noting my game froze once and I encountered several clipping issues during a chapter that focused on flying. I was able to fly through a number of walls and it would take me outside of the map. Thankfully, I was able to get back in!

As entertaining as combat can be, gameplay in the campaign gets very repetitive, and on a somewhat regular basis, too. They may introduce a challenge that's fun at first, (e.g. platforming, grappling, clearing an era and pulling a lever) but then you need to repeat it over and over and over again. This tends takes away from the charm and instead makes you wonder when you'll move onto the next wave of enemies. There's even some dialogue from your teammates which reflect this every now and then (something along the lines of "I was wondering when I'd get to shoot something again!"). It's also worth adding that I was playing the campaign on normal and, unless I became very arrogant, I felt practically unstoppable most of the time and found myself asking, "that's it?" after ripping through the latest challenge.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark isn't the most polished game around, but if you love the franchise, odds are you'll be able to overlook its flaws and have a good time. The campaign may not wow you on a consistent basis, but Escalation Mode -- especially with friends -- is certain to keep you coming back for more. If you're not passionate about the franchise, this game's unlikely to change your mind about it and there's definitely superior third-person shooters out there for you to play. But if you simply want to transform and blast swarms of enemies, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is worth considering.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is currently available for Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.

35 Comments
Posted by danhimself

is this a movie tie-in game or is it set in the War for Cybertron universe?

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Posted by Wolverine08

When's the review for the movie gonna be up?

Posted by Onemoreposter

is this a movie tie-in game or is it set in the War for Cybertron universe?

The designs are different but this does seem to tie into the movie.

Posted by force_echo

Both. That's why I didn't get it even though war and fall of cybertron were possibly the greatest pieces of transformers media ever made. There's a reason it's always a good idea to stay away from movie games, the development is rushed to stay on schedule with the movie.

Here's a hint: If you can't find reviews of a game on launch day, it probably means it sucks. Games that the publisher is confident about release their games to reviewers beforehand.

Posted by k4tzm4n

is this a movie tie-in game or is it set in the War for Cybertron universe?

My understanding is it's a continuation of the video game franchise and loosely connected to the movie (according to the wiki page it's a "companion" to the film).

@wolverine08 said:

When's the review for the movie gonna be up?

Saw it today and it seems like there's an embargo until tomorrow or possibly Friday.

Posted by Wolverine08

@k4tzm4n: Ah, can't wait for your thoughts K4tz!

Posted by iragulasuperbia

Eh. I think I can hold off on this game for a bit. Although that forty characters to unlock does intrigue me.

Posted by SupermanofSte-El

War and Fall of Cybertron are fantastic games, however I won't purchase this game because they merged the story with the lame movies.

Posted by dagmar_merrill

So, its alright?

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Posted by modunhanul

Looks good. I might buy the PS3 version.

Edited by NorrinBoltagonPrime21

The Dark Spark is the evil twin to the Matrix of Leadership, they made it pretty clear.

  • Escalation mode is nothing new to the franchise, they've just made some touch ups to improve upon Escalation from WFC and FOC
  • You really don't need friends to play Escalation(it helps but thats not the point), you get put into lobbies with 3 other random players, the only way to play alone is by choice or everybody leaves. Not sure how or why you would play Escalation by yourself.
  • Yeah there are over 40 characters in Escalation but they all can play the same, the only big difference is vehicle mode
  • The reason that nothing impressed you is that you must of forgotten that Cybertron is dying, majority of the Cybertronian half takes place in ruins or a place that is in the process of becoming ruins. I was impressed because I was finally able to see what Crystal City sorta looked like, considering cities like these have no official art.
  • The only way the gameplay is that easy is if you play super conservatively.
  • Its a movie game, they are never great and this is no exception. Its a solid game but doesn't come close to WFC or FOC.

is this a movie tie-in game or is it set in the War for Cybertron universe?

Its sorta both. The WFC/FOC part of the campaign takes place a few weeks (I'm not sure how many weeks before) before the start of FOC. I don't know how well it connects to the movie but there is a movie section to the campaign which probably has nothing to do with the movie except the characters.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@norrinboltagonprime21: First one is human error, so thanks for pointing that out. It's now edited. I was playing the game until nearly 2am... Also, I never stated Escalation Mode is new or that it needs to be played with friends -- just pointed out it would be more fun if coordinating with friends and elaborated a wee bit in case someone is jumping on with this game. Unless we're talking about a rare case like Halo: ODST, I figured it should be common knowledge that multiplayer modes are rarely limited to only being able to play with actual friends, so I really didn't see a need to specify that point.

Edited by chaos911

Can you play as any of the dinobts

Posted by Winter_Kills

@supermanofste-el:

My sentiments exactly. The Transformers movie games are as mediocre as the films that spawned them.

Edited by NightFang

So does this mean CV we'll be reviewing video games now?

Posted by DarthAznable

Graphics and framrate are bad on X1 and PS4 as well. Game is super meh and really does the last 2 games no justice.

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Posted by DeusVult
Edited by RobotinDisguise

I'd rather mount a garbage disposal than play a game tied to Michael Bay's film.

Posted by Wardishy

@nightfang: CV has been posting articles with their thoughts on comic-related videogames for a little while now.

Posted by nickthedevil

I'd rather mount a trash compactor than play a game tied to Michael Bay's film.

Not that bad, honestly. This coming from someone who's really hateful of Micheal Bay's films and loves Transformers. Like all the last Cybertron games, there's just so many easter eggs and references to the 80's G1 that I can't help but giddy about every time they come around.

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Posted by TheSpiritStalker

Is Nemesis Prime in it?

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

War/Fall of Cybertron are excellent games but those were made by High Moon so I'm not interested in this.

Posted by patrat18

War/Fall of Cybertron are excellent games but those were made by High Moon so I'm not interested in this.

Posted by w0nd

The thing with this game is, is it seems like one of those games like spider-man edge of time. It is like shattered dimensions, but it has some modes and features removed, and is still charged full price.

I am sure it is a fun 20-30 dollar game but for 64.99 for ps4 then come on put a little more effort into it when the first two ones i played were so darn good. build off the good, don't take it away. PVP multiplayer was so fun in those games, multiplayer isn't everything but you had a perfectly fine working multiplayer. could created a team with your buds and go online and fight another team, sweet, fun! so lets take that away?

Posted by NightFang

@wardishy said:

@nightfang: CV has been posting articles with their thoughts on comic-related video games for a little while now.

Well it has been a while since i've seen one post in the news.

Posted by StMichalofWilson

I wish they had multiplayer instead of escalation, especially if you can customize your characters. It was one of the few things I liked about FoC.

Edited by chaos911
Edited by StMichalofWilson

@chaos911: Well...I did like the story, but plus there was no co-op missions and I would have love to play as more different characters. I liked what they did for Fall of Cyberton and Rise of the Dark Spark, I just wished they did more.

Posted by NorrinBoltagonPrime21
Posted by Perfect 10

who can you play in the game and is it one of those games where you have to play certain characters for each mission or whomever you want whenever you want?

Posted by NorrinBoltagonPrime21

who can you play in the game and is it one of those games where you have to play certain characters for each mission or whomever you want whenever you want?

You can play as Aligned Optimus Prime, Sideswipe, Shockwave, Soundwave, Swindle, Sharpshot (Shrapnel), and Bruticus. As for the movies its Optimus, Bumblebee, Drift, and Grimlock. There are over 40 characters to play as in escalation but they all play nearly identical.

And yes, its one of those games where you don't get to pick your character in campaign, you play as the character you are assigned.

Posted by chaos911

@stmichalofwilson: Well yeah I guess not having co op missions does suck. When I first got wfc I didn't have online so it didn't really matter to me

Edited by Teerack
@danhimself said:

is this a movie tie-in game or is it set in the War for Cybertron universe?

It's some how meant to be a prequel to Fall of Cybertron(the game) and sequel to Age of Extinction(the movie). IDK how that's supposed to work but it makes me want to get it.

Posted by Perfect 10