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'Dark Spark' a downgrade

July 7, 2014

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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>'Dark Spark' a downgradeSince fully taking over the franchise in 2007, Activision has reinvigorated the Transformers game series with 2012’s ‘Transformers: Fall of Cybertron’ being the absolute best Transformers game ever made. Regrettably, ‘Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark’ is the Gobots of the modern Transformer games. A massive misstep in development and production, ‘Dark Spark’ was rushed off the production line as is evident by all the clunking and clattering throughout the game.

The campaign's storyline is as frail and puny as Wheelie. The Decepticons, Autobots and a bounty hunter named Lockdown play a game of hot potato with the Dark Spark, a device that bends space and time. That’s it. That’s all. Whether you are the Autobots or the Decepticons, your goal is to regain possession of the Dark Spark and the campaign flips back and forth between the warring robots with no rhyme or reason. At times, what is happening and to whom makes no sense and you soon give up caring what you are supposed to be doing and why.

Me, Grimlock confused. 
Me, Grimlock don’t care.

As you clatter to each checkpoint, occasionally having to perform tasks while cluttering along such as guarding Optimus Prime, clearing out an area or destroying enemy generators, the long list of hiccups becomes quite apparent. Long-range weapons like grenades or flamethrowers won’t arch over barriers such as railings. The ability to transform into vehicles is restricted here and there for no clear reason. There are foes that are so small they cannot be targeted except with the Hubble Space Telescope but irritatingly kill you with two precise laser shots. 

And the list goes on. 

>'Dark Spark' a downgradeCheckpoints that return you so far back, you will routinely shut off the game in frustration. Levels inexplicably ending while you are still fighting to clear an area. Enemies who flee or dash as soon as they are targeted. In-game challenges which are never announced or displayed onscreen until you fail or pass them. 

And the list goes on and on. 

The difficulty level randomly increases or decreases. The AI are so dumb at times you have to scour an entire area to find that last, remaining enemy to slay before you can move on because they have gotten themselves helplessly lost or stuck. A multiplayer that often crashes. Many, many, many loading screens.

And those are only SOME of the example of glitches and poor development.

The defects are not limited to the gameplay either. The Decepticon dialogue sounds like frat boys huddled around a microphone on keg night. The same three or four lines are repeated and more times than not, don’t reflect the action on screen. Next-gen graphics? How about PS2 or original Xbox? 

>'Dark Spark' a downgradeThere are two reasons for fans to rejoice though. You do get to play as a rampaging Grimlock and Bruticus. That’s more fun than finding an unboxed G1 Optimus Prime at a local garage sale but like the welcome returns of escalation and multiplayer, they are not enough to compensate for the careless production values.

High Moon Studios, the developers of the brilliant ‘Fall of Cybertron’ and ‘War for Cybertron’, were not brought back for ‘Dark Spark’ and it shows in the final product. “Dark Spark’ doesn’t come close to meeting the standard set by their work on the franchise. So many corners were cut you have to wonder if the developers at Edge of Reality are rally car, road course racers in their spare time. With 'Dark Spark' fans wanted Transformers but what we got instead are Gobots, a definite downgrade.

'Dark Spark' a downgrade Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Edge of Reality
ESRB Rating: T for Mature

Official Site:

Rating: 4 / 10

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