THE growing canon of Transformers games has bucked the trend for cynical and uninspired licenced properties, with Revenge of the Fallen and War for Cybertron providing more than competent experiences which captured the ethos of the seminal 1980s franchise, currently enjoying rude health in its latest resurgence.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
Playstation 4 / Xbox One / Playstation 3 / Xbox 360 (reviewed) / Wii U / 3DS / PC
Score: 5.8 / 10
Whereas High Moon Studios were responsible for a string of well-received games, Activision has passed the button to new developers, Edge of Reality.
Rise of the Dark Spark, unfortunately, is a regressive step for the series, with a disparate plot that does not attempt to dovetail with the movies and gameplay that quickly feels leaden and repetitive.
Previous Transformers titles have harnessed the many abilities of the transforming robots, allowing for fast-changing game environments and, with them, shifting mechanics. Dark Spark, by contrast, is confined to terra firma, with the player traipsing through one drab realm after the next, blasting away at a succession of enemies.
Similarly, there is no real incentive in switching between robot and vehicle modes as the latter iteration is almost always the best way to clear an area speedily. After a half hour of playing, it becomes obvious that certain weapons have been unintentionally souped, a realisation that kills any appetite for experimentation.
Some elements of the game are enjoyably, particularly the multiplayer mode, Escalation, which tasks several players with fending off successive waves of enemies. The AI may be clunky in places and it compares unfavourably with similar conceits such as Horde in Gears of War, but the muscular gunplay is enough to make the mode a fun way to pass the time for a few hours. Overall though, this is a missed opportunity that damages a well-earned reputation.
TIPS AND TRICKS
1) Keep a lookout for weapons lockers scattered around the game world. These allow you to change loadouts but also replenish health and ammunition, a boon when you are engaged in combat.
2) Compared to other shooters, Rise of the Dark Spark offers players conservative quantities of ammunition. It is wise to pick up ammo dropped by enemies at every opportunity.
3) Dashing and strafing at the same time results in a rolling ability, a good way to avoid enemy attacks.