With a release coinciding with the latest Michael Bay produced blockbuster, the timing for this game could not be better.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark follows the story of both sides of the robot war as they battle over the fabled “Dark Spark”. The main difference being that those pesky humans don’t make an appearance in the video game. Hallelujah. We only seem to mess things up when we get involved, anyways.
This game offers over 8 hours of campaign gameplay, and many more in the online co-operative mode “Escalation”. There really isn’t much outside those two play modes, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
You can take my word when I say that I will not give any spoilers here. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d say if I wanted to do so.
The story flip-flops back and forth between Autobots and Decepticons so much that it becomes hard to figure out who you’re really fighting for. If you’re not a fan of the series, it can feel impossible to keep up with your faction. The idea of playing both sides of the battle is not a bad one, it’s just not very well executed in this instance.
The mechanics of the game seem pretty well-balanced, as I never felt like I was fumbling to execute any of the commands. It’s easy to transform from robot to vehicle, and vice versa. The targeting system is pretty solid for a third-person shooter, and the ability to switch your firing arm can be useful in certain situations. There are more than a few weapons that lock-on, and there are no enemies in the game that are immune / cold-blooded.
There is no double jump, but there is a dash that you can use while in the air. Your vehicle form has a dash of its own, and the air-born vehicles have a barrel roll that uses the same mechanic. Evading doesn’t stop you from being able to fire. It doesn’t even hinder your ability, which can be helpful in those intense fire fights.
Easily the best part of the entire single-player experience is being able to play as a Grimlock the Dinobot, a prehistoric Autobot whose means of secondary travel isn’t something you would want to pick up your prom date in. You also have the opportunity to play as the Decepticon animal transformer; the Incepticons. This wasn’t as fulfilling as playing as the Dinobot, but it was a nice change of pace for the repetitive nature of the story line.
There are no puzzles to solve. No artifacts to find (aside from the Dark Spark… but I can hardly count that). This is your run of the mill, point A to point B, shoot the bad guys sort of game. There are a few things that break up the monotony.
There are a series of challenges that you can complete while playing the chapters. Most of these will cause you to either switch up your play style, or go out of your way to destroy more of the world than you already are. But, even with these challenges, I found myself uttering those 3 small words, “XBOX, snap Netflix.” Nothing about the campaign kept me coming back for more. The driving force behind finishing the game was writing this review.
But, luckily for all of us, there is another dimension to Transformers: RotDS.
Right out of the gate you see that all of the time and effort you put into the campaign is paying off in the coop mode Escalation. All of that XP, every weapon, weapon upgrade, unlocked Autobot and Decepticon, hack, and piece of tech that you’ve acquired from earned gear boxes.
If I had to re-unlock all of those things… things might not end so well for my controller, or my TV.
Escalation is a 4 player, 15 wave game mode with increasingly difficult robots. After watching a few rounds on Twitch, I was convinced that this was going to be just as much of a challenge as CoD Nazi Zombies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Aside from a glitch that stopped us from finishing the 15th wave in my first game, I have a 100% success rate. This is even with the sloppiest of pick up players. There are enough posts on every map to keep you pretty well guarded. Turrets, healing posts, decoy posts, and, my personal favorite, corrosive posts. They slow your enemies, and you can upgrade their range. When all of the corrosive posts are active and fully upgraded, they almost overlap. Each post is only active for a short time, or until it is damaged.
I’ve found that a good combo for me is a fully upgraded E.D.K. TechVolt, and a fully upgraded Gear Shredder. The TechVolt is a medium-range weapon that links this game’s version of chain lightning between enemies. An upgraded Gear Shredder will seek out enemies on ricochet.
To be honest, I’m less than 20 levels in, and I’m not really feeling compelled to max my profile out. Sure, unlocking all of the playable characters would be nice, but that’s really all I have left to do.
Graphically, there really isn’t much to draw you in here. The transformation animations are choppy, and there are some very obvious pixelation going on.
The audio portion is spearheaded by the prime Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen. There is virtually no foul language in the game, which is more than I can say for the new movie, making it more family friendly than most other games on the market. Without the human element, the violence in this war-based simulation falls directly under fantasy.
There were more than a few glitches in the game, which makes me think that it was rushed to correlate with the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Despite all of the negative in this review, there is a shining nugget. This game is a fanboy’s dream. Boasting a roster of over 40 playable characters, chances are pretty hard that you can play as your favorite Autobot or Decepticon. In multiplayer, you can even play as more of the Dinobots.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic casual game to spend a few hours on, then you may want to check this out. If you’re looking for a fun game for your children, this would also be a good choice. If, on the other hand, you are a veteran gamer with high expectations, keep walking. $60 is a lot to spend on this and there are better things already out there, and on the horizon. All you have to do is Google “E3”.