Whenever there’s a movie tie-in game that comes out, some groan while some go “huh?” when you ask them about it. However, whether longtime fans like it or not, the Transformers films is now at its fourth in the series and still selling tickets. It’s also par for course that there would be yet another Transformers game to go with it. In fairness, the last one was actually alright, so there are some expectations with this one. It’s made by a different company though, so it’s bound to not go through the same treatment in development as its predecessor.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is Activision’s tie-in game for the latest Transformers movie, Age of Extinction. This is a third-person shooter that was developed by Edge of Reality, who also released the free-to-play third-person shooter Loadout earlier this year, with Unreal Engine 3 and the Havok physics engine. Since it’s a movie tie-in game, not much confidence goes into it, but this particular title may stand a chance due to the developer’s proven aptitude with third-person shooters.
The story falls somewhere in between the Fall of Cybertron game that came before this and the Age of Extinction movie. The previous game, which was developed by Hihg Moon Studios, was actually not bad at all as they had gotten the formula down well enough with two Transformer games before it. They would go on to do the Deadpool game, which is fun for a while as well. But this game is no longer a High Moon production, maybe because they’re busy helping out with the the making of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Therefore, it’s like starting over for the game series, which doesn’t sound encouraging at first.
The Dark Spark is a powerful artifact that is capable of tearing holes through dimensions, which then joins the two Transformers universes together, which then results in pandemonium. The timeline of the story gets a bit confusing from this point on, as it is actually set before the launch of the Ark in Fall of Cybertron, but then also takes place during Age of Extinction. Unless you’re really used to following multiple over-arcing timelines, then this could really make your head hurt. The concept of two worlds colliding is cool though, so you could stick with it for a bit if you feel the same way.
The visuals are fairly generic for a game of this type, with graphics topped off with washed-out textures that make the highly-detailed Transformers look worse than they should. The interface doesn’t dazzle either, looking like the HUD is from a game made in 2006. All of that shouldn’t matter though if the shooting action is actually fun, and it hits most of the shooter buttons for the most part. What it falters in though is with the little details that add up to bigger things in terms of gameplay. You do have Insecticons to play with, which is perhaps its only true saving grace.
Movement feels sluggish and delayed at best, especially in the middle of a fight when you need mobility the most. You may be playing as a Transformer, but it may look more like you’re made of recycled material whenever you do get hit. Exploration is mostly composed of traversing badly-designed levels and waiting for doors to slowly open before getting into the next combat sequence. While this game has some stuff like leveling system, lots of different weapons to unlock and use, and the entertaining Escalation mode, the combat itself ends up being too bland and standard to warrant more play.
It’s too bad that what High Moon Studios had been able to come up with is now brought back down to this level due to whatever Edge of Reality had to deal with during development of this game. If you like straight-up singleplayer shooters, then maybe this can still hit it for you,
Tested in PC. Final Score: 5/10