A LITTLE MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE.
Note: The following review SPOILER FREE!
“Autobots, roll out!” You do not question the order from Optimus Prime. You are Drift, after all, a former Decepticon turned Autobot and you’re not only looking to honor your Leader, but get a little revenge on the faction you left behind as well.
Gears turn, metal slides, and parts rotate as you transform from your Samurai robot state into a speeding sports vehicle. You speed through a spillway dodging debris when you see a group of Decepticons. Your guns swivel outward and you open fire taking two of them out with ease. You transform again, back into your Autobot state and fire your blaster at a cowering enemy behind some rubble. Time to get up close and personal. You dash forward and trigger your special, slicing through the Decepticon with your blade like a hot knife through butter. You stand for a moment, admiring your work, but only for a moment; there is so much work to be done.
We can’t have nice things.
How many ancient, powerful, and forgotten relics can there possibly be? Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark begins as other Transformers games; with a wee bit of narration and the hunt for an essentially life altering artifact. Which of course, you end up losing, then sort of have to find, while flashing back to a point when you found it originally, except not only your Autobot story, but your Decepticon story as well. Was that confusing? So is the game.
Does every video game need to have a deep and fulfilling story like The Last of Us or Batman: Arkham City? No. But it should at least do something to add to the source material in a manner that’s easy to follow and interesting to watch. Rise of the Dark Sparks’biggest shortcoming is in the way the story unfolds. It does a lot to help kick you from Autobot to Decepticon in order to get your hands on different Transformer play styles, and as long as you choose to disregard the story completely, there is a lot of fun to be had by constantly switching between the two. The problem is that there is so much jumping around that the story gets muddy and hard to follow. While it isn’t a total deal breaker, it does detract an awful lot from what could have been a great addition to the Transformers mythos. If the Arkham games have taught us anything, it’s that a videogame can be an excellent delivery system for additional material.
Soarin’ and Transformin’
Each Autobot and Decepticon handles about the same in terms of blasters and combat. The main differences come in the form of what you can transform into. Car, jet, insect, or dinosaur, they all can travel and attack, but they handle much differently. Each vehicle has a standard travel mode built for speed, and a mobile attack mode that lets you dash from left to right while attacking and switching weapons. The most fun you’ll have is while playing as Star Scream. The boosting, rolling, and afterburning you’ll do through big areas is honestly the most fun I had the entire time I was playing it. Locking your missiles onto different targets and then switching to your gatling guns to take out the rest of your enemies is awesome. It is unfortunately a small piece of the game, because as I said earlier, the game is all about kicking you into the robot boots of other Autobots and Decepticons.
The upgrade system is pretty nuts. You’re rewarded by killing specific numbers of whatever opposing robot with whatever specific weapon, and your perks come in the form of upgrades and gearboxes. Each gearbox is full of power-ups, hacks (in game bonuses like exploding headshots), unlockable Autobots and Decepticons for multiplayer, but most importantly new weapons. While it’s easy to get overloaded with all of the different content in each box, you will be rewarded if you take your time and search through each gearbox and figure out exactly what your best upgrades are, and the best weapons to max out. You can still comfortably complete missions with subpar gear, but come-on now, you’re a mothertruckin’ transformer, act like it and level up your gear.
The Escalation multiplayer puts you and a few online members against wave after wave of robots. It mixes up the gameplay by awarding kills with money that you can spend to upgrade your shields or other base defenses to help against the swarms that attack you. All of this is welcome but becomes pretty repetitive after a while.
Peter and friends
Let me start by saying the voice over team on this game is awesome. You’ve got Peter Cullen reprising his role as Optimus Prime, but you also have voice over heavies like Troy Baker and Nolan North to listen to. Listening to the same Optimus I’ve been hearing since I was five or six scratches all the right nostalgic itches, and just listening to the Autobots and Decepticons exchange banter in game worked quite well for me.
The graphics engine is decent for a current-gen game. When a blaster is armed, you’ll see the different robot parts pulse as if they are a living, breathing part of you, which adds to the fact these are more than just robots, but I can’t help but feel like this game lacks that, current-gen “Wow” factor that I saw while playing Infamous: Second Son. There is a big difference between a port for this generation of consoles, and one that is created solely for them.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark does an okay job of letting you do some Transformer-type things with some Transformers-type creatures, but aside from the Star Scream missions, you never really feel like a powerful Transformer. The voice over work is great and the gearboxes add depth, but nothing grabs you the way a Transformers game should by now. This is unfortunately another game where you can wait for that price tag to roll down.
Did this ‘Transformers’ game spark your interests? Did you leave it in the dust? Roll out the comments below.
*This review of Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is based off playing a retail copy of the game on the PlayStation 4 console.
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