If one were to hand Transformer: Rise of the Dark Spark out to a peasant, teach him how to play this game, and ask him how he felt about it, he will throw it straight in your face with a potato or two accompanying it. Not that other games would end up any better in such a person’s hand, but this one would earn you harder throws and a lot more potatoes and rocks. Due to the fact that this kind of review isn’t usually acceptable, I’ll try to elaborate more on this exquisite new venture from Activision.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is outrightly a bad game. The game deserves so much scorn and derision merely for the fact that it tries to trace the footsteps of its epic predecessors. As is the discussion extant, it’s a drab mish-mash of three different universes where the Transformers had made a mark, and steers absolutely clear of the target the game was meant to hit. Rise of the Dark Spark has its good moments , but they are far too few and well below par in light of the egregious shortcomings that the laughable title of the game bodes of.
The overall lacklustre appearance of the game isn’t improved by the PS4’s well implemented AA.
" The game is built on the Unreal Engine 3 using Havok for the physics of the game, both of which should have been able to deliver at least a commendable title. Needless to say, because of the movie tie-up, the game was rushed and is far from polished"
Rise of the Dark Spark takes the best of three different universes, and tacks tries to tack them together in a visibly desultory manner. The game doesn’t establish any solid grounds for its entry or for combining different storylines together in an incomprehensible nexus weaved by a complex, unstable and jumping storyline that offers nothing memorable in any way.
After trying your hand at the game, you would actually start appreciating the movies and consider Bayformers not all that bad. This game was released on the old and new generation consoles of Sony and Microsoft, alongside the PC platform and the Wii U.
The game is built on the Unreal Engine 3 using Havok for the physics of the game, both of which should have been able to deliver at least a commendable title. Needless to say, because of the movie tie-up, the game was rushed and is far from polished, looking to be in mid development stage albeit with better optimisation.
After seeing fans have a great time with High Moon’s Transformers titles, Activision stepped in to show its legendary foresight by moving High Moon to the Call of Duty development team and bringing Edge of Reality to make the new Bayformers game because Spiderman wasn’t nearly enough.
This motley amalgam of rehashed bushwa fares drearily on the new generation of consoles. It’s almost a mockery to release a game of such a level on the consoles of date. Even on the antediluvian generation for that matter (c. 2006 AD). The game runs at 30fps on the consoles, with the X1 version of it upscaled to full HD.
The X1’s failure to use optimum level AA is evident at times. (Tank’s gun barrel)
"The lighting may draw your attention too as would the implementation of the bloom effects, which add a certain element of beauty to it which looks good (ish). Mind, this is all in contrast to other elements and features that the game has to offer."
If you cut the game some slack, you MAY yet find some beauty in the game. The reflections in the game are quite decent and actually add to the appeal of the game, but are mostly present only on the robots themselves and little elsewhere. A few windows here and there and a stream of water may well act their parts in giving off reflections but that’s as far as the appreciation goes.
The lighting may draw your attention too as would the implementation of the bloom effects, which add a certain element of beauty to it which looks good (ish). Mind, this is all in contrast to other elements and features that the game has to offer. You would find yourself hard pressed to actually find beauty in the game in terms of visual standards even if you have been committed to the splendid Transformers series since the days of the yore.
I would have blamed the devs for slobbering on their systems when designing this game, but I can’t. It’s a movie tie up. So I’ll just get on with the really bad part. Texture mapping is absolutely horrendous with every vehicle, object and building shrouded in cheap texture models that you get dime a dozen all over the internet. Or so they seem.
The Transformer designs have been straightaway borrowed from the earlier games without any thought of improvement. With so many sports cars in the fray, one would expect some gritty, fast paced action. Absolutely not.
There is no sense of speed in the game throughout. Motion blur is entirely absent and when you activate boost on a transformed robot, all you get is wavery visuals around the said vehicle as if emitting heat; it is ridiculous. Particle effects are no good either with smoke looking more like a shoddily shorn piece of grey cloth being dragged across the skyline rather than drifting effortlessly and dispersing in the sky. On top of that, the devs didn’t even get the 2D Skybox right. It’s absolutely insipid.
The PC’s superior lighting, shadows and other sundry effects are not enough to cover up the marred look of the game.
" Ground textures may be better at times but they are still make the current day hardware a laughing stock. Thankfully there don't seem to be any jaggies and at least the textures used seem to be of high resolutions. The consoles seem to employ multi-sample anti-aliasing but it seems to be used on a lower scale on the X1; but the difference is noticeable as not."
Alpha processing has been given a blind eye, with flames and water flows being not transparent or translucent enough, giving them a cheap and bungled look. Interactables are even worse as shooting any interactable would pave way for visual agony by means of visual effects disinterred from the early days of the Cenozoic era. Tankers and buildings crack and splinter like brittle limestone and water spills in an almost identical manner every time, hits the ground, then winks out of existence because who needs physics anyway?
Ground textures may be better at times but they still make the current day hardware a laughing stock. Thankfully there don’t seem to be any jaggies and at least the textures used seem to be of high resolutions. The consoles seem to employ multi-sample anti-aliasing but it seems to be used on a lower scale on the X1; but the difference is noticeable as not.
Low level SSAO is implemented and similar is the level of soft shadows, which do the little they can to improve upon the game’s visuals. The depth of field is nothing to boast about in the game while crepuscular rays and bloom do a considerably good job on the PC port of the game.
The new gen consoles play the game in a very similar fashion suffering ofttimes – if not plagued – by frame rate drops and screen tearing.
The animation style is carried on to the previous generation of consoles, but all the effects are even worse. The frame rate is again at 30fps, but everything else, takes a tumble down the hill. The, textures, models, filtering, anti-aliasing, all are not even at par with what the old generation hardware could provide. Screen tearing instances are minimal but the amount of jaggies and the overall visual quality are not at all satisfactory.
An analogy can be drawn with the Wii U version of the game albeit with meagrely better graphics, but a far from nifty set of key bindings which make the experience not so good. Even then, the game suffers from churning out a consistence frame rate thus resulting in a poor experience that often comes with screen tears and lag.
The Wii U’s poor AA and textures are sometimes irritatingly apparent.
" This game is definitely not worth even a whiff if eye candy is what you're staking your money on. There is a good variety of weaponry in the game, but the AI never forces you to use alternative strategies with different weapons to send them packing. The sheer variety of weapons and the integration of the Escalation mode are all that are worth looking at in the game. "
Among the platforms, it’s only the PC that can deliver something. But that something is sub-par in itself which speaks oodles of how the game looks on other consoles. Lighting techniques and reflections aren’t enough to uplift a game’s visual aspect so much so that a user would completely ignore other aspects of it. With so much else missing in the game, it’s no good on the PC either.
This game is definitely not worth even a whiff if eye candy is what you’re staking your money on. There is a good variety of weaponry in the game, but the AI never forces you to use alternative strategies with different weapons to send them packing. The sheer variety of weapons and the integration of the Escalation mode are all that are worth looking at in the game.
If you’re getting the game for under $10, good; if you’re renting it, better; if someone gifts it to you, well it certainly won’t be anything that you would thank them for but you’d be happy that it wasn’t your money. Optimus’ voice is a charmer, so is the short time with Grimlock but nothing else seems to strike the right chord.
Rise of the Dark Spark had a great concept that was lost in the multi-universe dissonance that was the product of a quick buck strategy gone squalid. Unless you’re an absolute goner for the series, you can give this game a pass. Steer WELL AWAY from it if graphics are what you’re looking at.