Review: Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (Wii U)
I hate Transformers. Well, let me be honest, I hate Michael Bay‘s Transformers and the Transformers of today. Being majority a 90’s kid, Transformers was a big part of my life. What we have today is not Transformers. We have talking robots with big explosions.
Just like the movies, Transformers games have fallen short of great over the last century. Even though Transformers: Rise of The Dark Spark is 5-folds better than the previous Wii U Transformers game, that’s not saying much. Transformers: Prime Wii U was unplayable.
Transformers: Rise of The Dark Spark is a convoluted lost game. The game has no clue what it wants to be. Rise of the Dark Spark is a Hasbro game trying to hide behind a (to use a non-Nintendo game) a Halo’ish feel, and that’s the problem. Transformers of this time isn’t Halo or even mature. Rise of The Dark Spark is attempting to be grownup by trying to make a mature sci-fi game. Instead we are left with a muddled mess.
The story for Transformers: Rise of…I’m honestly not sure what the story was. I really didn’t care too much for it. I know that is horrible to say as a reviewer, but I really tried to follow and care. What I did take – the story focuses around a struggle to contain the power of the Dark Spark. The story takes players to different bland locations around the universe while jumping the player between main characters of Autobots and Decepticons.
One bright spot is the games use of controls. At first, successfully controlling a Transformer can be a little overwhelming, with the game claiming about 90% of the Wii U controllers functionality. One highlight is pressing the left stick to transform between the human’ish form to vehicle form. This transition is quick enough to provide some strategic advantages during battles. The rest of the controls are typical shooter controls one would expect.
Rise of the Dark Spark has a simple upgrade mechanic that offers little helpfulness. As players progress through levels and achieve goals, like killing a determined amount of enemies with a one’s fist, gearboxes become available with different upgrade potential. These boxes are unlockable through strategically placed kiosk throughout the levels. The gearboxes contain a variety of gadgets like weapons, vehicle upgrades and different augmentations for the Transformer. But none of it was very useful in the game.Using the weapons and abilities the Transformer already had was fine enough for me.
Transformers: Rise of The Dark Spark has an identity crises. It desperately wants to be the cool kid on the playground. It was a nice attempt but doesn’t stand up to any other Sci-fi adventure game. The game does have some surprisingly difficult sections, but those are probably blamed more on game mechanics than game design. In its defense it’s perfect for tween age. Just like it’s demographic, Transformers: Rise of The Dark Spark is stuck in that transition from child to teen. Maybe if I were a teen I would really enjoy this game. But I am not and this game flirted with unplayable.