Michael Bay’s Robots in Disguise are set for a blockbuster return in Transformers: Age of Extinction – providing an opportunity for Activision to once again cash-in with a movie tie-in. However, this time, instead of a straightforward movie game that translates film scenes into interactive (and often lackluster) experiences, the publisher along with studio Edge of Reality have crafted the cross-over experience Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark – a title that tethers High Moon Studios‘ celebrated War for Cyberton game series (which also includes Fall of Cybertron) with Paramount Pictures’ movie franchise.
Now Activision has released a new trailer for Rise of the Dark Spark – providing brief hints at how the games seeks to connect the two Transformers mediums, along with a glimpse at newcomer film characters (most notably samurai Autobot Drift) as well as fresh gameplay footage.
Obviously, the Cybertron portion of the story predates the movies and considering Megatron’s fate at the end of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, it is safe to assume that the narration from Optimus Prime (voiced again by Peter Cullen) addresses events prior to the Transformers’ arrival on Earth. As a result, Prime’s assertion that “Megatron seeks the power to deliver the final blow” indicates that the Cybertron portion will once again see the Autobots chasing after Decepticons en route to a powerful object (likely the “Dark Spark) which could play a role in Age of Extinction – and, as a result, allowing for movie to game interplay. In the Transformers sequel, humans unlock the building blocks of Cybertronian life – maybe this Dark Spark is the key? If so, Rise of the Dark Spark could provide backstory and history for an object that may just be mentioned without much context or development in the actual film.
The first Rise of the Dark Spark trailer, along with numerous screenshots, have featured franchise staples Optimus Prime and Bumblebee but the latests footage also places a heavy emphasis on new movie bot Drift. Voiced by actor Ken Watanabe, this iteration of Drift is modeled after a Samurai warrior and transforms into a 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. The character will also, allegedly, maintain a similar backstory to his G1 counterpart – specifically that he originally sided with the Decepticons, only to later join the Autobots. Given the dual Cybertron/movie narrative in Rise of the Dark Spark, it’s possible that Drift could also play a major role in the game – as he attempts to correct past mistakes.
In addition to brief glimpses of fan-favorites like Soundwave, the new trailer also features the return of Combaticon combiner Bruticus. The character was a major draw in Fall of Cybertron but it’s surprising to see him return for the upcoming movie cross-over – and, despite fan-love for Bruticus, his inclusion might be a red flag for gamers that were hoping to see Edge of Reality do more than retrace the success of High Moon Studios’ entries. Without a doubt, it’ll be fun to reassume control of Bruticus but a big reason for High Moon’s success was their ability to innovate and provide fresh gameplay experiences – within the Transformers world. Building on War for Cybertron, Fall of Cyberton took the basic third-person shooter format and included Bruticus scaled gameplay, Grimlock Dinobot melee combat, and an interactive Metroplex assist level.
Without a doubt, movie tie-ins are notorious for short development times and low production values but when Activision announced that Rise of the Dark Spark was more than a simple tie-in, they raised the bar for what some fans were expecting. Die-hard Transformer enthusiasts may find enough to enjoy but, outside of the film/game crossover story, the studio has yet to release details or in-game footage that indicate the actual gameplay in Rise of the Dark Spark will innovate or evolve prior titles in the series.
Still, the premise is interesting and Edge of Reality has time to prove Rise of the Dark Spark is more than a shallow cash grab. In the meantime, gamers who plan to pick up the game can check out the Rise of the Dark Spark pre-order bonuses.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is scheduled to release on June 24, 2014 for PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One — ahead of Transformers: Age of Extinction — which hits theaters June 27, 2014. An RPG version on the Nintendo 3DS is also in development and expected to release alongside its console counterparts.
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