Not that long ago, I reviewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles latest console outing, and commented how they were a licence that just didn't seem to want to go away any time soon or ever; well those 'robots in disguise' aren't going away any time soon either.
Rise of the Dark Spark once again throws you into the world of shape changing, butt kicking, robots engaged in what seems to be a never ending struggle for supremacy. Those evil Decepticon's are it again, this time wanting to get their hand on an alien power source called the Dark Spark, and with a name like that, it's quite obvious it's something that should be handled with kid gloves that have been fastened to a very long barge pole. The race is on! It's Transformers vs Decepticons to gain control of the device.
Now it's clear that the Decepticons would want to use it to conquer all and sundry, but I got confused as to what exactly the Transformers would do with it? They don't say anything about destroying it, or locking it away somewhere, so forgive me if the logic of the Transformers tactics regarding the Dark Spark is lost on me. But hey, this is Transformers right? and like any of the Michael Bay movies, why should they make any sense? it's all about kicking robo butt, so don't worry about the story, just lock 'n' load and start blasting!
As the game progresses you'll find yourself controlling both sides during the campaign, and that may appeal to some folks out there, and yes, i thought that this would be a cool element, shame it wasn't executed as well as it could have been or in a purely logical way of doing it. I'll get back to this in a moment.
Controlling the action
Simple really, anybody who has played any first person shooter will be familiar with the control. Left stick to move, right stick aim, R1 to shoot, melee attacks with a press of the square button etc. This can be customised by the player. These controls are more or less left alone for the flying sequences, though now add R2 and L2 to regulate climbing and descent. it's all quite responsive and quick to get to grips with. Driving or vehicular combat (Bumblebee etc etc) is pretty much the same as any racer that you would play, just with guns, rockets and flamethrowers added. I will add that the driving sections are one of the most enjoyable aspects of the action.
They say that this is an oxy-moron, and oh dear that theory seems to be confirmed here. Sorry to say that this is where the game let's you as a player down. There are sections where some of your bots can repair your colleagues in combat. Now you would have thought that if you were going to the aid of a stricken comrade, your back up would stay behind cover and offer covering fire. No. The robotic idiot decides it's best to draw fire to himself and lo and behold you are on your own, drawing fire as your comrades lie there asking for aid!
Needless to say the air turned blue more than once....
Like I mentioned you play as both sides and yes, even Dino Bots (small squee from someone at the back of the room) BUT you are forced to swap sides and even change Transformer being used with no say in the matter at all. Surely we could have had two campaigns? One for the Transformers, the other for Decepticon's? It's not as if the main story is that long so I feel we could have had the option to choose sides, for some reason they decided not to do that. I miss the freedom of choice here, but that's my opinion.
Yes there is online play. Horde mode, that's it. No team death match, no capture the flag, just horde mode. Fun for a while but it soon becomes repetitive and to be honest, although there was no lag or drop in frame rate (log in time was slow though) I just didn't enjoy it enough to want to go back too it. It's there as an alternative to the main story but nope not for me (I don't play much on line anyway unless I find it really fun)
Graphics, sound etc
Under the hood there's a decent engine driving this but there are some graphic twitches that jar on the eye. It's possible to walk 'through' items, they strangely become a little intangible, and legs of robots will appear inside parked cars and other objects. But explosions are well rendered, smoke and flame effects are eye catching.
Frame rate stays high even when the screen is full of flying lead, lasers and enemies so that's all good, and controls are reasonably responsive though the transform button is a little over sensitive. Just the slightest touch can have you swapping form at a time when it's not needed, so be careful!
One I feel for fans of the series, and purists may detect that the Michael Bay movies have more than influenced things here. I didn't totally dsilike this but I feel that as it's for the PS4 and the current generation platforms, well I felt it lacked the edge needed for the up market port to this machine.
This could have been a blockbuster game, a real blast, and it is as far as the story goes. Plenty of bang for your buck but lacks depth and not enough options for online multiplayer for me. It looks pretty, as do the movies, but suffers from a lack of depth. Maybe one for die hard fans only.