Monday, 7 July 2014

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark: PS4 Review

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4
Released by Activision

There's no denying the latest Transformers film is a noisy mess; Age of Extinction's certainly loud, brash and bloated excess.

So there was some hope that the game spin off, released to tie in with the Michael Bay helmed release would be a little dialled back for the small screen and the gaming world.

Tieing in with the movie in a prequel way and expanding the role of bounty hunter Lockdown, you are thrown into the battle for the Dark Spark, an ancient relic that gives as much power to its holder as they can possibly muster. But as Optimus Prime and his team of Autobots find out, when that falls into the wrong hands, then all manner of chaos can ensue as you try to seize the spark and save the day.

The game starts with you taking on Drift, negotiating your way through hordes of Lockdown's minions to try and get to the Spark first; using Drift's blade attack and pressing R1, you can smash the opposition in chains (which is quite cool) before transforming into a car and racing to your objective. It's here the problems begin, because while the combat's perfectly frenetic and serviceable with all the mentality of the Michael Bay film thrown in for good measure, and the transformation smooth and rendered well, the actual playability of the car is less than ideal, thanks to slow responsiveness and a lack of anything smooth.

The game also veers from Autobot to Decepticon points of view without any real warning. After Lockdown seizes the Spark, the game quickly cuts to Cyberton and the Decepticons as Megatron desperately scours the planet looking for the Spark, and trying to inject some mystery into the relatively humdrum proceedings.

There are 14 story missions to negotiate, meaning there's plenty of flipping back and forth, which really does interrupt the narrative in many ways. Inclusion of survival mode Escalation where hordes of enemies come your way give you a chance to simply put the brain on hold and blast away, which is a nice touch and a welcome addition to the proceedings.

But the story isn't as powerful as you'd expect (if you're even expecting a story) and detracts from the overall experience of Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark. There are moments when the game really comes together (such as the aforementioned Transforming and the powering up of weapons via unlockable gear boxes) but as an overall product, it's a disappointment for the franchise.

All in all, Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark may be serviceable if you're a fan of the franchise; but as a gaming proposition, it just doesn't have the fun flow to carry you through level by level as the missions unwind. While the multiplayer extension of Escalation means you can have a little more fun and brainless activity, the lack of that within the main game is sorely missed - and this latest Transformers franchise may need to go back to basics to ensure the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons doesn't end up extinct on the console front.


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