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Did Michael Bay make this game?

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    Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark

    Rating: 1.0 – Terrible

    Did Michael Bay make this game?

    I have a serious love/hate relationship with the recent batch of Transformers games. I seriously disliked War for Cybertron, but Fall of Cybertron was absolutely epic, and perfectly captured the magic of Transformers. Rise of the Dark Spark is the worst Transformers game yet, making even War for Cybertron look like a masterpiece in comparison.

    The game was not developed by High Moon Studios, the studio responsible for the previous two games in the series. It was definitely not made with the same love or care that Fall of Cybertron received, as Rise of the Dark Spark just screams cheap cash-in licensed game. This game only exists so Activision can make a quick buck off of the popularity of the latest movie in the critically panned Transformers film series, Age of Extinction.

    Rise of the Dark Spark clumsily attempts to connect the plots of the game series with the plot of the movie series. This raises so many problems that it’s ridiculous. The story is hardly articulated in any meaningful way anyway, so while it is easy to complete ignore it, the sheer stupidity of the decision to try to mash these two universes together is shocking. Now the story that High Moon worked so hard to create is forever tarnished, unless they completely ignore this game whenever they make another Transformers title, and that’s definitely what I hope they end up doing. I wish I could personally make myself forget this game as well, but alas, I don’t have that kind of power.

    The game plays exactly like the other games in the series, but somehow worse in every regard. It’s still a third-person shooter with Transformers, but the gameplay is far more repetitive. The combat is an unbalanced mess, with some enemies being pathetically easy to kill and other enemies, like the drones that used to be just weak distractions, able to kill you ridiculously easy, even on lower difficulty settings. This results in incredibly unbalanced, broken gameplay that makes the game an absolute nightmare to play.

    Rise of the Dark Spark takes place partly on Earth and partly on Cybertron, but it doesn’t matter. It looks ugly no matter where you look. There are PS2 Transformers games that look significantly better than this game. The environments are incredibly dull, there are graphical glitches literally everywhere you look, and you’ll have your character suddenly disappear without warning at numerous points in the game.

    There is one thing that they got right at least, and that is the voice acting. The voice actors from the previous games reprise their roles, and the result is a game that at least retains the authentic Transformers sounds. The voice acting will be music to the ears of fans of the franchise, it’s just a shame that they’ll have to play through such an awful game in order to experience it. A far better alternative would be to watch the old cartoon on Netflix or Beast Wars. That way you can listen to the iconic voices of your favorite Transformers without having to shoot your way through pathetically dumb enemies and environments so boring that you’re liable to fall asleep just looking at the screen.

    Another aspect of the game that didn’t outright irritate me was that they made it so XP is gained across all game modes. The competitive multiplayer has been axed, so it is sort of inconsequential, but hopefully in a sequel we can see this idea retained. It’s nice to level up across the two main game modes, and it creates a sense of unity amongst all of the modes in the game, kind of like what was accomplished with Gears of War 3 on Xbox 360.

    Escalation Mode returns and it’s fine. It’s still exactly what you’d expect, though you’re going to have a better time with the mode in Fall of Cybertron than here. They STILL haven’t added any offline multiplayer options, which is a travesty and downright shameful at this point. The power of the Xbox One obviously wasn’t used to make this game any prettier, so why couldn’t some of that power be used to enhance the gameplay features and mechanics, such as adding split-screen co-op to the game? The online for this will be dead in a week if it’s not dead already, so there will go the work that the developers put into the multiplayer of this game, lost forever.

    Just to recap a bit, Rise of the Dark Spark is uglier than its predecessors, its boring, its repetitive, it has frustrating game balance, and it has less gameplay modes than previous games in the series as well. It does absolutely nothing to improve upon the Transformers video game formula at all. It even retains some issues, such as the Transformers all looking way too similar and hard to tell apart due to the third-person over the shoulder camera angle, which is even worse in this entry as the textures are so shiny and weird.

    Rise of the Dark Spark stands as the absolute worst Transformers game that I’ve ever played. It completely ruins the efforts that High Moon Studios made last gen, and even though I dislike their first effort, I’d rather play War for Cybertron for the rest of my life than have to play Rise of the Dark Spark for another five minutes. Fans of the franchise should stay far away from this train wreck, and stick to reliving the cartoons on Netflix for their quality Transformers fix.

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