Less Than Meets the Ear
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark is the latest offering to the Cybertron storyline, but this time around the developer at the helm is Edge of Reality. Brought to us by Hasbro and Activision, the game was to continue the epic storyline of Fall of Cybertron where we saw the Autobots in their ark, and the Decepticons in their battlecruiser, go through the portal to Earth and starts the epicness that is the Transformers as we all know and love. This is not the case for Rise of the Dark Spark and it has inadvertently killed the greatest game series Transformers has ever seen by not only shoddy graphics, gameplay, and poor storytelling but trying to bring two world together that have nothing in common other than that they involve transformers. So lets do this as there is a lot to say about what is, and what should have been.
The game tried to do something that’s never really been done before; take a previous storyline and meld it with a movie plot. Sounds easy enough, but they failed to do this in a way that not only is the grand story arc of War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron gone, but also assumed you would know the premise for the movie Transformers: Age of Extinction. This causes a lot of story flow issues as the game starts with you on Earth as the Michael Bay Autobots and are instantly lost as to what’s going on in the story. Remember this was supposed to be a continuation of the Fall of Cybertron story. Even if you haven’t played Fall of Cybertron the storyline takes you through two realities, Earth or Michael bay Transformers, and Cybertron the game series main story across two games up to this point. After the first level your thrust into the Cybertron part of the story for quite a bit of time before you head back to the Earth. This is where things get weird and ultimately where it goes downhill as the Cybertron storyline is nowhere to be found or even mentioned in this new chapter of Cybertron. You jump around from Autobots to Decepticons like you have in past games but none of the stories connect in a way that makes it a fluid transition and you get lost really quick as to what’s going on in game. It feels like it’s just a string of mini storylines that happen to mention the same item in all of them, The Dark Spark. This is the only thing that binds it all together in the grand story of the game, but does a terrible job of making it fluid and fun. I spent a lot of time replaying levels just so I could understand the story up to that point to make sure I got all of it straight.
Now the gameplay is something that any Cybertron veteren will recognize as its the exact same as the last two games with a couple new things thrown in. It plays a lot like your traditional third person shooter and they tried a few new things with destroyable cover, but this is all marred by the amount of glitches and poor level design that make cover pointless in the end. They did add in a leveling feature which goes hand in hand with an item feature as well. It was a nice touch but levels don’t actually matter as you don’t get any kind of stat increase and other than achievements , levels are the only way to get items in game for weapon upgrades, usable items (Grenades, battle droids, stuff like that), hacks, and character unlocks for multi-player. All in all the gameplay would have been a nice saving point if it weren’t for all the invisible objects I kept getting stuck on and one shot kills from random bad guys even with full health and shields (NOTE: this is being addressed with a patch). The mediocre level designs make each level feel constrained and rushed. It’s as if you’ve already played them and I got bored quickly as I found that I HAD played most of them, just reskinned. There are very few things in game that feel new or even fun as when you finally get to play Grimlock, which was an awesome part of Fall of Cybertron, his entry this time around is not only random and deluded, but there is no story what so ever as to why he’s there or even why he’s fighting along side the Autobots. Not once did I feel like I was bringing Autobot justice to the Decepticons and everytime Optimus Prime called me his friend I questioned this like “YOU DON’T KNOW ME!”
At the end of the day Trasformers: Rise of the Dark Spark not only failed to deliver the next great story in the Cybertron series, but it also managed to alienate anybody who’s ever even heard of Transformers with its poor transitions from Cybertron story to Michael Bay story and very poor overall storytelling and confusion between Earth characters and Cybertron Characters. If you haven’t played War of Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron you should pick those up as they both are amazing games, but Rise of the Dark Spark, buy at your own risk as this was a huge let down for the third installment of the franchise.