Tag Archive: optimus prime

Extinguishing the spark

Back in 2010, High Moon Studios did the unthinkable: They delivered an awesome Transformers videogame. Many thought it couldn’t be done, and yet High Moon not only delivered a great game in War for Cybertron but also a solid sequel with Fall of Cybertron. They even developed some decent standalone movie titles in between.

When Activision tapped Edge of Reality to work on the next Transformers game instead, to say there was a little trepidation among fans of the Robots in Disguise would be an understatement. Unfortunately, those fears were justified.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark tries to marry the original storyline created by High Moon Studios with the abominable canon that Michael Bay’s movies have provided, producing a horrendous patchwork plot. Half the game takes place in a flashback between War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron to provide the origin of the Dark Spark, a relic of unfathomable power that Megatron wants so he can turn the Autobots permanently into rust. The Autobots catch wind of this, however, so they take a break from building the Ark, the ship that will eventually take them to Earth, to put a stop to the Decepticons’ plans.

Moving back to the present day, as with everything that comes off Cybertron, the Dark Spark finds its way to Earth (no spoilers!). Lockdown, a Cybertronian mercenary who plays an integral role in the Age of Extinction movie, arrives hot on its trail and will fight Optimus Prime and company to own its power for himself.

As soon as the game gets to Earth, everything takes a sour turn. The quality of the levels there pale in comparison to those that take place on Cybertron. While repetitive design plagues most of the game’s chapters, it becomes far more evident in the Earth levels when you run around through the same bland-looking open urban environments over and over again—as opposed to the visually interesting segments you play through on Cybertron, such as Megatron’s main base, Kaon, with crumbling bridges on its approach and the prison in its underbelly, or the ancient Cybertronian ruins surrounded by a lava lake and the red desert you need to work your way across upon your exit.

The story also jumps over a cliff once you hit Earth. Lockdown’s motivations make no sense for the character, whether you’re familiar with him from his G1 story, or if you’ve been unfortunate enough to watch Age of Extinction and you’re using the game as it was intended—to learn why Lockdown came to Earth—since these provide direct contradictions to each other. Grimlock also shows up, for no rhyme or reason, and the worst part is he has the design from Age of Extinction, which makes him look more like Dinobot from Beast Wars and not the colorful tribute to the action figures and cartoons High Moon crafted in Fall of Cybertron.

If Rise of the Dark Spark had just been an interquel between High Moon’s two original games and the Earth levels and forced tie-ins to Age of Extinction weren’t included, this could’ve been a salvageable project. That’s because a few of Edge of Reality’s design decisions do have some potential. For example, they simply took the core mechanics from High Moon’s games and copied them over. From a third-person-shooter standpoint, the gameplay feels like it’s been lifted straight from Fall of Cybertron. Transforming from robot to vehicle is just as smooth as in the previous games, meaning that veterans of the more recent Transformers games will feel right at home.

On top of this, the game features a new leveling system where you earn XP from kills or completing challenges. By finishing each challenge or reaching a new XP perch, you can earn Gearboxes, which can then be opened up for characters to use in Escalation or items to be used in the campaign.

Besides the shoddy level design and weak plot, Rise of the Dark Spark also includes technical shortcomings galore. Glitches see your characters get stuck in walls or enemies melt through floors at least once per level. Mid-stage loading screens take place in the middle of a firefight countless times, decimating the game’s pacing. Of course, your friendly AI is also completely useless, which causes you to restart several sections. One particularly frustrating instance came as I was playing Drift and had Bumblebee by my side as an AI. We had to race away from a pursuing Titan mercenary and instead, Bumblebee drove toward the indestructible foe, instantly dying, and causing me to restart from the last checkpoint.

Speaking of the robots that join you on missions, the most mind-boggling decisions about Rise of the Dark Spark come from the lack of choice the game gives you. If there are multiple Transformers on each level, why not bring back the ability to choose which Transformer you play, like War for Cybertron did, or at least give us campaign co-op?

Instead of campaign co-op, though, all we get back is Escalation. This is the returning Transformers take on Horde mode, with 15 levels of enemies coming after you and three friends. While it’s still a solid take on the mode, I wish there had been a local option, and I miss Fall of Cybertron’s ability to customize my own Autobots and Decepticons. Along with this, all of competitive multiplayer has been sent to the scrap heap, too.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark feels like half of a good game. At times, the magic from High Moon’s efforts is captured here by Edge of Reality, but these moments are few and far between. You can’t help but feel that the forced bridge between High Moon’s series and Michael Bay’s movies rushed the project, leading to the obvious design mistakes. When you consider how many features have been cut on top of all that, Rise of the Dark Spark is nothing short of a throwback to when Transformers games were awful. In the end, this fails to deliver the type of game that fans have come to expect.

Developer: Edge of Reality • Publisher: Activision • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 06.24.14
Some solid action can’t cover up the fact that Rise of the Dark Spark feels horribly rushed, with massive splotches of shoddy design and a poor plot evident from the opening cinematic to the end credits.
The Good Action feels as good as it did in High Moon’s games; new leveling-up system.
The Bad Lazy, incoherent storytelling; boring level design; no competitive multiplayer.
The Ugly Grimlock’s movie design being used instead of High Moon’s.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is available on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Activision for the benefit of this review.

More Than Meets the Eye

Some franchises are what Comic-Con was made for. That perfect pop culture blending of action figures, video games, comic books, cartoons, and movies ensuring that they resonate with fans of all kinds on at least some, if not all, of those mediums. Transformers is one of those franchises and they kicked off SDCC 2012 with a bang.

On the heels of their major announcement that they’re actually moving Transformers: Fall of Cybertron’s release date up a week to August 21st, High Moon Studios and Activision invited us for a chance to go hands-on with not only some of the single player campaign, but dive into their revamped multiplayer modes and new Transformer customization feature for the first time. And this new time with the game only makes me wish they moved it up even further because Transformers: Fall of Cybertron looks to hit every major note with fan boys and hardcore gamers everywhere.

I started my evening by jumping into the single player campaign and trying my hand at some missions midway through the game. My first mission threw meright into the pilot’s seat as I went flying for the first time with Combaticon Vortex through Cybertron and mowed down Autobot grunts with machine guns or dropped some devastating bombs on them that wiped out chunks of the battlefield. What was amazing about this mission though was how critical Vortex’s vehicle mode was as the battle took place across platforms of varying altitudes. As I transformed and let out a circuit shattering shockwave, I immediately had to leap and seamlessly transform back to vehicle mode and start climbing to take down grunts with rocket launchers before switching back to robot mode and moving further into the base. It was crisp, clean, and felt damn good.

I then skipped ahead a little further and if Vortex felt good, playing as Megatron felt down right badass. With his massive tank cannon I turned countless Autobots to slag as their puny pistols bounced off my frame. And then with his new hover mode’s stomp ability, I was able to literally crush them beneath my heel as I continued on my path to counteract the Autobots master plan.

After getting only a taste of the campaign, I hurried off to Team Deathmatch. But before I even had a chance to explore one of the ten maps the game is shipping with, I played around with the Transformers customization mode where I mixed and matched different body parts on one of the four returning classes to make a Transformer truly unique to my style. And announced at SDCC was the Insecticon and Dinobot customization DLC pack that would add features to this mode. While it may sound like a costume pack, which I admit isn’t something I typically get excited for, to make my own personal multiplayer avatar look like one of these iconic Transformers definitely piqued my interest.

So, once I made a red and blue Autobot Infiltrator with a Short Fuse EMP Grenade and some massive shoulders, I rolled into combat and wreaked havoc (I was match MVP with 15 kills to 7 deaths with 6 assists, but my team lost 33 kills to 30 before time ran out) in what is still a tremendously tight mode.

Admittedly angry over my team’s loss, despite my personal domination, I tried out the Conquest mode next. Set up as your standard Capture the Point match, we were required to capture three possible stations and scored points every few seconds for each of the three we had. First to 400 points was declared the victor. Again, a very tight take on a classic versus multiplayer mode, but this time my team was victorious although my K/D was a lot worse. I shared the MVP award this time with EGM News Editor, Eric L. Patterson as I captured the most points, but he dominated on the K/D front.

Finally, we moved over to the revamped Co-op mode, Escalation. Although featured in War for Cybertron, this Transformers take on Horde mode has a new twist in that each player is required to fill one of four positions. Only one person can be a healer, one can be a gunner, one can be a shield, and one can deploy ammo. This forces a lot more teamwork and communication than in the previous version of the mode and deters anyone from being a lone wolf. Eric and I found this out the hard way as we couldn’t even get past 10 waves before succumbing to the Decepticon onslaught. Traps of all kinds littered the battlefield that we could activate for a price, and each unit had a special power to help turn the tide of battle, but even on Easy Mode, if you don’t work as a team, you’re just booking yourself one way tickets to the scrap heap.

When all was said and done, I don’t think I could have been more impressed with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron as a whole. I can’t wait to see the full campaign and how everything ties together and I really can’t wait to spend a night just making a dozen different personal Transformers for multiplayer. I think that any and all Transformers fans out there, no matter what medium may have drew them into the franchise, will find something to love about this game and am really looking forward to getting my hands on the full thing next month.

As has become the standard for major releases nowadays, Activision has announced a pair of exclusive retail offers today in regards to the August 28th release of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.

Fans who pre-order the game at Amazon will get a unique code for the G2 Bruticus skin that you can use during his single-player campaign mission and that should instantly be recognizable by his iconic hodgepodge color scheme.

Fans who pre-order the game at GameStop will get the bigger bundle though as they get the full G1 Retro Pack that features G1 weapon designs for Megatron to be used in the single player campaign and full G1 Optimus Prime skins that can be used in both the single player and multiplayer modes so you can transform and rollout in classic retro style.

Originally Published: April 19, 2011, on Comicvine.com

I had a chance to talk with Sean Miller, the Game Director of Transformers: Dark of the Moon: The Video Game from Activision and High Moon Studios.



Originally Published: October 20, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Transformers: The Game, based off the movie of course, for the Nintendo Wii.

Originally Published: September 23, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

Ray Carsillo and Classic Game Room presents a CGR Undertow video game review of the Transformers: War for Cybertron Map Packs 1 and 2. This video game review features Transformers: War for Cybertron video game play and commentary. This video game is available on the PC, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360 entertaintment systems/consoles.