Game Review

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

Less than meets the eye

Whether it's Batman, Gears of War or Zelda, it's always a gamble when a beloved series leaves the developer that created it in favour of a new one. In many of these cases it's because the publisher wants to churn out annual or semi-annual instalments in a profitable franchise, and one studio is not enough to carry this multimillion-dollar load alone. Whenever this happens the series risks losing its identity, as you have a whole new set of people trying to build on someone else's vision. Sometimes it works out beautifully (see: Metroid Prime), but other times it doesn't.

Be it Deus Ex, Splinter Cell, or Assassin's Creed, it's also a gamble to produce multiplatform titles for Nintendo home consoles in the modern era. Arguably since the split of the N64 and Sony PlayStation in the mid-'90s, Nintendo platforms have largely been the redheaded stepchildren of multiplatform gaming for third-party publishers (some would even say it dates back to SNES/Sega Genesis days). It's partially Nintendo's own fault, with a business philosophy that has historically been hostile towards third-party development, but that doesn't completely excuse the ocean of half-hearted, lazy ports we've seen on Nintendo consoles over the years.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark on Wii U is a victim of both the new-developer quandary and the multiplatform conundrum. Publisher Activision has handed off the surprisingly well-received Transformers series from its creator — San Diego's High Moon Studios — to Edge of Reality, an Austin-based developer mostly known for porting popular PC games to consoles. Released on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC as well as Wii U and 3DS, Edge of Reality had a monstrous act to follow on a plethora of platforms; the 3DS version was handled by WayForward Technologies, but Edge of Reality was responsible for every other iteration.

On one hand, it's nice to see the Wii U version is enough of a priority that it's made by the primary developer of the game – as we've seen with AAA releases in the past, the Wii U iteration often gets relegated and outsourced. On the other hand, Transformers on Wii U still seems to have received the same second-class treatment we've become accustomed to, as many of the new features we reported on when the game was announced back in April are absent here. And as has become par for the third-party blockbuster course, Activision is misleading consumers by neglecting to mention the removed features in any of its marketing. The PlayStation and Xbox iterations are clearly the flagship entries, and Wii U is left at the foot of the table begging for scraps.

The most exciting features of recent Transformers games have been the engaging online multiplayer and the survival-style "Escalation" mode — neither of which are present on Wii U in any capacity. All you get here is the standard single-player campaign mode and the unlockable "Primus Mode" which gives you a bunch of extra weapons. Rise of the Dark Spark is not a tie-in to the new Transformers: Age of Extinction film, but rather a bridge between High Moon's video game universe and Michael Bay's movies. This has the potential to transcend standard licensed game fodder, but the concept totally falls apart.

With all the unique features of other console versions stripped away, Transformers on Wii U is essentially a straightforward, linear single-player third-person shooter split into 14 chapters. The story is a cliché end-of-the-world plot full of magical MacGuffins that you'll find in any big-budget sci-fi movie or video game, so the Rise of the Dark Spark experience rests squarely on the shoulders of the gameplay. After finishing them for the first time, you can go back and play any chapter whenever you want, the closest Rise of the Dark Spark ever comes to any sort of non-linearity. Once you're in a mission, you're forced to use the Transformer the game wants you to use. Choosing a Transformer before each mission could've been an easy way to extend the replayability of the chapters, but you'll have to settle for the three difficulty levels (which, to Rise of the Dark Spark's credit, can be changed any time you die) if you want to see anything different in your second playthrough.

If you've played any third-person shooter, you'll pick up Rise of the Dark Spark's controls easily enough: dual analogue movement, left trigger to aim more accurately, right trigger to fire, face buttons for jumping, reloading, and switching between your two weapons. You can flip which arm your character holds their weapon with using the A button, which doesn't really modify gameplay but it's a nice little touch. The same gameplay is always displayed on both the GamePad and TV screen, which is a missed opportunity, but is to be expected from a port like this.

Since this is Transformers, you can morph between your robot and vehicle forms with a click of the left stick; unfortunately, you'll find yourself spending about 80 percent of the campaign in your robot mode, which defeats the novelty of transformation. Transforming into a jet is a thrill that changes up the gameplay as the battlefield becomes more open and vertical, but for all the characters who turn into cars and trucks, they're just a slightly-faster, less mobile version of their robot form — so you'll want to switch back into a robot as soon as possible. It's a missed opportunity; there could've been fast-paced car chases or escape sequences that took advantage of the vehicle forms, but for the most part the cars are a non-factor. So much of a non-factor, in fact, that there are certain segments of levels where you'll try to transform and the game will inform you that you're not allowed to, because the scripted story sequence requires you to be in one form or the other. Needless to say, it's frustrating to play a game titled "Transformers" that won't actually let you transform at certain points.

Rise of the Dark Spark's depth comes from customising your weapon loadout – Edge of Reality clearly put tons of effort into creating dozens of guns, all with unique play styles and upgradeable features. There are also "T.E.C.H." powers you can equip that give you various bonuses, and most interestingly, "hacks" that change up the gameplay with tradeoffs. One hack gives enemies more health but when they die, they explode and damage other enemies; another makes fallen foes drop less ammunition but more health powerups. This all sounds like it would make online multiplayer a blast, if only the Wii U version actually had any multiplayer at all.

Instead, this wealth of weaponry is wasted on shooting wave after wave of mindless AI enemies, and for the most part, it's the same cloned enemy over and over again, with little variety from level to level. You won't be battling many recognisable opponents from the Transformers TV show or films; for the whole first chunk of the campaign you won't even be fighting Autobots or Decepticons, but forgettable "Cybertronian mercenaries" and Insecticons. Perhaps we're spoiled by the colossal boss fights in Dark Souls, but the bosses in Rise of the Dark Spark are also small and unremarkable for the vast majority of the campaign.

Like its predecessors, Rise of the Dark Spark alternates missions between Autobots and Decepticons, and new to the series, it also switches between movie-based Earth levels and more exotic Cybertron stages. The Earth levels all sport the generic dystopian bombed-out city look that we've become accustomed to in modern mainstream gaming, and all the characters don their unfortunate "Bayformers" look so they're hard to tell apart from each other. The more sci-fi Cybertron missions are vastly superior, with more distinguishable character designs closer to the old cartoon show and slightly more creative level structures. The purple-hued space stations filled with Ancient Artifacts feel a bit like a poor man's Halo, but Cybertron is still much more immersive than the poor man's Call of Duty of the Earth missions.

We didn't expect Rise of the Dark Spark to look as shiny on Wii U as it does on PS4 and Xbox One, but the overall presentation is downright embarrassing. The robotic transformation animations are nicely detailed, but everything else is a mess; long load times, tiny draw distances, constant frame rate drops and pop-in textures can be found in abundance — it might sound like an exaggeration, but Rise of the Dark Spark on Wii U looks only marginally better than a Wii game. When your character dies, they don't explode or even fall down – you'll just get a bland menu that pops up unceremoniously the instant your health reaches zero and tells you you're "OFFLINE."

Being "offline" rather than "dead" makes sense since you're a robot, but when it's so jarringly displayed without the context of a death animation, the first few times we died we thought we had somehow dropped an arbitrary internet connection and frozen the game. It makes Rise of the Dark Spark feel low-budget, like the developers cut corners wherever they could. Death animations aren't a dealbreaker, but in a morbid way they're a huge part of gaming; think of all the hundreds or thousands of death animations you've witnessed over the course of your gaming career. As a result, when a game features death without animation, you can't help but feel unresolved and unfinished.

Following in the graphics' footsteps, the audio mix is all out of whack. Along with the generic "epic" film score, sound effects are far too loud and dialogue is far too quiet, even with the settings changed. This is a huge blow, as the voice acting is one of the game's only strong points. It's terribly cheesy, but if you enjoy the dialogue in Michael Bay's films, you'll appreciate the dialogue here; as a bonus, veteran Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen reprises his role for the game.

You'd better enjoy the dialogue, because Rise of the Dark Spark is full of unskippable cutscenes, many of which are placed after level checkpoints so if you're stuck retrying a certain segment over and over, you'll have to sit through the cutscene every time. The cutscene animation is incredibly awkward – the Transformers move and gesture in conversation more like humans than robots, placing them one step closer to the Uncanny Valley. This isn't necessarily the game's fault, though, as Michael Bay's most recent film heads in the same direction, giving us the one thing we all really wanted: Optimus Prime with lips. For kissing?

Conclusion

The last few Transformers video games bucked the trend of subpar licensed products, instead giving us the Transformers games we always wanted as kids. Perhaps the PlayStation and Xbox versions of Rise of the Dark Spark are just as high-quality as their predecessors, but on Wii U, Rise of the Dark Spark is everything Nintendo fans have come to loathe about movie tie-ins and multiplatform gaming: a lazy port with missing features that treats Nintendo players like second-class citizens. The franchise licensing is so cynical that Activision presents us with "Press Y to View Licensing Agreement!" on the main menu. Sadly, it's all a vicious cycle: third-party publishers release terrible Nintendo ports, so fans don't buy them, so third-party publishers continue to release terrible Nintendo ports, and again fans don't buy them... on and on into infinity.

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User Comments (83)

Shiryu

#1

Shiryu said:

Ouch a 3!? Oh well, I already bought mine because I love the franchise and because this will be my first Transformers game in HD since I didn't own anything that would run "Fall of Cybertron". It really didn't look like a 3 out of 10 game to me from gameplay videos and such. Guess I will find out when the game arrives this coming week.

Shiryu

#3

Shiryu said:

@Salnax I also didn't know but suspected they where gonna cut the multi-player from Wii U. I do not like being treated like a second class citizen since my money is the same colour as other console owners and it's just as hard to earn it. Truly, the state of third party support on my home console of choice disgusts me more and more every day.

ricklongo

#5

ricklongo said:

I loathe the Transformers movies, so I was never gonna get this anyway. Still sad to see the trend of watered-down Nintendo versions to continue.

unrandomsam

#6

unrandomsam said:

@MegaScizor Activision Game of The Year Editions are not much better than the normal ones if they exist. There wasn't even one for Fall of Cybertron. (Which has £20 worth of DLC).

There again Nintendo as bad as Activision when it comes to DLC.

Conocotarious

#7

Conocotarious said:

Played the game start to finish, a 3 is definitely on the harsh side. It's certainly sub-par, but not awful.

eaglebob345

#8

eaglebob345 said:

Crap... I was waiting for a review for this for a while. I didn't know that the multiplayer was cut out... I was actually looking forward to this one because it is a third-person shooter, and should be much better than a run and gun Call of Duty type FPS... What was Activision thinking with this, and that Spiderman game? Why do they and Ubisoft insist on blowing exorbitant amounts of money on yearly franchises, while tossing budget scraps to everything else? This makes me worry about how that Legend of Korra game will do. I do want it on the Wii U and I probably would get it too, because Platinum Games is an excellent company, but Activision has a nasty habit of rushing games out the door. Games with small fractions of the Call of Duty budget, support, and development team size.

madelk

#9

madelk said:

I just finished the XBONE version and while I wouldn't give it a 3, I was greeted by texture popin, frequent pauses in a level for loading and just a lackluster game overall.
Definitely not up to the standards of the previous games. Very disappointing.

Inazuma_Pikpik

#11

Inazuma_Pikpik said:

Sad that Transformers games have never been good on Nintendo systems. I guess I'll pass on this one too.

Einherjar

#12

Einherjar said:

A semi movie tie in getting an awfull score ? Who would have though ? :P
The first game of the franchise was excellent, the second one lost me with its abundance of DLC and micro transactions and this one sealed the deal with its unnecessary movie tie ins.
So yeah, staying away from it by default.

Mega719

#13

Mega719 said:

@eaglebob345 Legend of Korra isn't coming to Wii U which really shocked me. Only the 3DS separate game is the Nintendo representation

dumedum

#14

dumedum said:

the other versions also had awful reviews, so this has nothing to do with a bad port. It's the game that's bad across all platforms.

JaxonH

#15

JaxonH said:

@Shiryu

Your money is just as green, unfortunately the Nintendo fanbase collectively spends far less of it on 3rd party multiplats than our Sony and MS brethren, regardless of parity. In fact, Nintendo fans spend so little of it on multiplats, 3rd parties resort to cutting features just to minimize their losses.

It's a cruel reality but it is what it is. Cutting features does perpetuate the cycle and will contribute to even lower sales, but apparently 3rd parties are saving more money cutting features and selling 300 less copies, than spending an extra 100k just to keep parity and sell that extra 300 copies.

Emblem

#19

Emblem said:

Even with the multi-player this game totally sucks, I tried out the PS4 version against my better judgement as i loved the first two games. Thank god for Amazon full refund returns, makes an awesome 30 day rental service.

theBluntKnight

#20

theBluntKnight said:

Huh so it's crappy licensed game that was intentionally made to be worse on WiiU. Yeah I am having a really tough time wondering why third party games don't sell as well on nintendo consoles.......

CapnPancakes

#21

CapnPancakes said:

I was really hoping for this game to turn out better since I enjoyed Fall of Cybertron so much. I guess I'll wait for a price drop before picking this one up.

SetupDisk

#23

SetupDisk said:

Yeah, every version is getting ripped in the reviews. Unless the 3DS one is good, haven't seen a review on that yet.

Dankykong

#24

Dankykong said:

Not surprised. 3/10 feels generous even at that. Lol @ any fool who buys any licensed game like this on any system. Nintendo or not 99% of these games suck

Smasher64

#25

Smasher64 said:

Well, I guess I'm stuck playing the original games on the Wii and DS, those games were almost perfect! Though I wish we had a open world Transformers game on Wii U that wasn't a piece of trash, I would pay big money for that!

audiobrainiac

#27

audiobrainiac said:

CRAP I was so hoping this would be good :(
Always crunchy disappointment. Like overly fried chicken.

Grimlock_King

#28

Grimlock_King said:

I knew this game would be crap. Time to replay Fall of Cybertron and War for Cybertron again. Two true transformers game. And both completly destroy anything from bayformers.

SCAR392

#29

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH - That was only mainly true during 6th gen, when everyone was gaming on PS2, instead of GCN or Xbox. See, a console with a lower install base or specs isn't expected to sell as much, because it requires less effort.

Go compare Wii's software attach rate to PS3 and Xbox 360's. While Xbox 360 and PS3 have technically sold more 3rd pary games, the effort/budget required for the Wii version weren't nearly as high, so a smaller amount is still very probable to be good for all parties involved. The PS2 got its last FIFA game last year, while the Wii still got this one this year(Wii U not getting FIFA 15 is another subject).

The Wii was still essentially a 6th gen console, so it more than makes up for any sort of "blunder" Nintendo had with the GCN. It's past, so bringing up that discussion doesn't really hold any value anymore.

Even now, Wii U has about a 1+ game attach rate, compared to PS4, despite having less consoles in homes, which means software is selling better on Wii U, based on console, software attach ratios. Now factor in that 3rd parties aren't releasing that many games, which means any potential sales have been going elsewhere since Wii U released, and hardly anyone is going to buy poor quality ports, either.

BoltedArc

#30

BoltedArc said:

Actually ps4 xbone only got escalation there isn't a mp vs ,so really the wiiu didn't get as much of a shaft as what was said and the maps for escalation are recycled maps from older transformer games with two new maps!

woodlin37

#31

woodlin37 said:

Interesting review, 3 out of 10 is NOT what this game is, i bought this at the weekend and whilst i was angry there was no multiplayer that other platforms have the game itself is decent enough to be enjoyable, im no transformers fan boy either, so my opinion doesnt become clouded over that, its a 6 out of 10 for me, i think the review mark should TRANSFORM into a 6 not a 3 ;)

JakeShapiroAdmin

#32

JakeShapiro said:

@SetupDisk I'm in the middle of playing the 3DS version for review, and I'll have it up sometime this week – it's lightyears ahead of the Wii U version! It's not a classic, but it's a fun Fire Emblem-style romp.

Action51

#33

Action51 said:

Here we go again...this time Activision sadly...

Another sub-par franchise game that gets gutted even more on the Wii U...and then of course when smart consumers pass over this rushed and gimped port, we'll be accused of never supporting 3rd parties and inevitably the sad case of Wonderful 101 will be brought up to prove that Nintendo gamers only want Mario and Zelda.

Gaming in 2014...more politics then fun!

AVahne

#34

AVahne said:

Really off-topic, but the Club Nintendo year is coming to a close really soon. So register them games if you want some elite-class tat.

eaglebob345

#36

eaglebob345 said:

@Mega719 I know it isn't coming to the Wii U. I just worded that very badly, sorry about that. What I was trying to say is that I do want it to be on the Wii U, even though it won't be, and that I have doubts that the game will be good because Activision keeps rushing unfinished products out the door. What I want to know is why Activision delivery two games that could have been good (but came out as shovelware) on the Wii U, but is skipping it with two games that will probably be good (those being Destiny and Korra).

JaxonH

#38

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392 Eh, Wii U might have higher attach rate, but that's only due to being on the market 18 months compared the PS4's 6. And a valiant effort to excuse poorer 3rd party sales, but the fact is they just don't sell as well. And we have hundreds of games to judge by. Every single time, with rare exception (usually the more colorful, rated E games), the Nintendo version sells less.

There's a reason there's less 3rd party games on Nintendo platforms. It ain't for show- it's cause they're known to not sell as well. And it makes perfect sense. Obviously Nintendo fans are not as interested in 3rd party titles as Sony/MS gamers. If they were, they would have bought a 3rd party console. No shame in calling it what it is. Let's keep it real.

Dragoon04

#41

Dragoon04 said:

@JaxonH I have to say. I disagree. Although I love my wiiu and the first party games, I can't afford a PS4 so I was hoping that the wiiu will at least get all the PS3/xbox 360 games in 2013 and 2014. I bought it back in December 2012 when EA and Ubisoft still pledged their undying loyalty to Nintendo. O well.

JaxonH

#42

JaxonH said:

@Dragoon04

That's fine to want those games, but you can't disagree with sales numbers. That's all I'm saying. Is we have 15 years of consistent sales numbers that prove, without a shadow of a doubt, Nintendo platform versions almost always under-perform. It's the one sure bet of the gaming industry. Whether gimped or definitive, multiplat or exclusive, it doesn't make a difference. Now, when it comes to games like Rayman Legends, Sonic Transformed, stuff like that, THEN it does as good if not better every time. But the traditional AAA 3rd party game? Fans just don't want em. Well, sure, a few thousand on Nintendo fans sites want em. But that's not enough to counter the millions who go out and buy those games in droves on the other platforms. Supply and demand. No demand, eventually the supply will dry up.

Alucard83

#43

Alucard83 said:

@JaxonH Nintendo is failing since they are only bringing consoles or handhelds with very low CPU. When you compare NDS for example with PSP there is a huge difference. I don't think 3DS comes even near the power of PSP. Nintendo is charging people the same price almost for their consoles/handhelds while the other brands have much more power. How come that Nintendo doesn't care? I don't like it that Nintendo gets away everytime with the very low CPU and GPU wise consoles. That's an other reason for me why i haven't bought any handhelds anymore from Nintendo. After seeing NDS i was like wow this looks like Super Nintendo machines. Same quality. 2D even does look much better on Super Nintendo then on a NDS. How come a newer handheld console still doesn't match the snes quality or even the N64???

Windy

#44

Windy said:

So many games on Wii got this treatment! Now on Wii-U! Say it ain't so

SCAR392

#45

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
All I'm trying to say is that Wii didn't need to sell as many 3rd party games as Xbox 360 or PS3, and probably made up for any sort of shortcoming GCN had.
Any port like this only has to sell a fraction of what the Xbox 360 and PS3 do, in order to break even. If they are really setting hardcore sales restrictions on Wii U games, the lowest amount Activision probably has to sell this Transormers game, is 46,000 copies.

RaymanFan2

#46

RaymanFan2 said:

The game doesn't have PvP multiplayer on ANY platform. Only horde mode 'Escalation' on everything but Wii U.
While this means that any other version would be a better bet, you aren't missing all that much.
In terms of campaign, it's definitely on par with War for Cybertron's campaign.

SilentHunter382

#47

SilentHunter382 said:

When I first heard this game I was excited that I thought it was going to be high moon studios third game in the "Cybertron" series. When I saw it was made by a different developer I lost all interest.

Jazzer94

#48

Jazzer94 said:

@Alucard83 A quick search found me this.....
(All credit goes to grans who posted this on gamefaqs)
The Pica200 was developed by DMP, not Nvidia. The polygon specs you're referencing for both PSP and 3DS are heavily inaccurate. In a real world scenario, the PSP maxes out closer to about 6 million or so as someone mentioned above. Sony's polygon benchmarks neglects to mention that they factor in textures, lighting, animation, or anything else that you would see in a real game. Same was true of the PS2 in fact, cited at 66 million but real world was about 8-10 million.

With the 3DS, you're using the earliest model Pica200 from 2006, more efficient ones have since been released that push more polys with less battery and lower clock speeds. Also, the Pica200 was originally designed to be rendering at 4k resolution. 3DS of course has nowhere near that resolution, and polygon performance is well known to skyrocket when rendering at lower resolutions. And that 15 million polygon number was while clocked at 200mhz. The specific Pica200 inside the 3DS is cited to be clocked at 268mhz, which would substantially increase the polygon power. So lets assume just for the sake of argument that there weren't any newer Pica200 models (there are) and that the Pica200 performs the same at 4k as it does at 800x240 (it doesn't). The 15.3 million number would increase to somewhere roughly around 20 million when overclocked from 200mhz to 268mhz. Again, we have disregarded the fact that there are newer more powerful Pica200's and that GPU power skyrockets when resolution is lower. Even within those parameters, 3DS is still surpassing Dreamcast, PS2, PSP, and GC in polygon power.

And you also neglected to mention that the Pica200 has basic OpenGL ES 1.1 features, by far its greatest asset. This gives it formidable shader potential over even the Gamecube and Wii, with comparable lighting and texture effects to that of even modern HD consoles and PC's (a reason some developers have compared the 3DS to an Xbox 360 or PS3). Even a basic effect like normal mapping (used in a number of 3DS games) can't be done on PSP or PS2 for example. Let alone advanced lighting, self shadowing, volumetric gas effects, etc.

The CPU clock speeds shouldn't even warrant an explanation, but i'll bite again. You're looking at numbers and ignoring the clockwork inside, a mistake too many people will make unfortunately. Take for example a comparison between an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU and an AMD FX CPU (all being quad cores). Even if the AMD has a 500-1000mhz advantage over the Intel, the Intel STILL beats the AMD cpu in a power struggle (while using less energy to boot). And funny thing is (slightly off subject) AMD realizes that many people do indeed look at raw numbers and make dumb purchasing decisions based on these numbers. Even when it turns out these numbers mean nothing in a real world scenario. The FX series CPU's are notable not only for performing worse than Intel's chips, but also worse than AMD's own previous Phenom II series of CPU's. Even the 8-core AMD FX chips are outmatched in many instances by Intel's quad core i5 and i7 chips. Point being that clock speed is a largely irrelevant matter when comparing different models of CPU's if one is simply built using superior architecture over the other. This is the case with 3DS vs PSP, the ARM11 set-up in the 3DS is just much newer and more powerful than the PSP's MIPS based CPU, regardless of the clock speed in question.

Continued....
Your spec comparisons also didn't cover the fact that the 3DS has twice the memory of the best PSP (128MB vs 64MB), and that the 3DS memory's speed is comparable to that of DDR3.

I don't think anyone is going to claim that Nintendo focused on power with the 3DS, especially in comparison to the Vita. But regardless, it's still a huge step up over the PSP and even a step above PS2 and GC.

S-Miyahon

#49

S-Miyahon said:

I would have preferred that Activision ported the Legend of Korra game to Wii U than this...

JaxonH

#50

JaxonH said:

@Alucard83

I put you on ignore the minute you said Nintendo is failing. I put you on permanent ignore when you said it was due to hardware power. Sorry. Nothing personal, but I don't have it in me to explain why this is a logical fallicy every time someone blames hardware power. Somebody else is gonna have to do it this time.

JaxonH

#51

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

I think you overestimate the cost savings of cutting multiplayer features. They're not saving that much. It's just a side-feature component of a game already coded, all they'd have to do is port over that side-feature.

Ya, you're right, they have to sell less, but that's the whole point they're cutting features in the first place- because they games are selling less. Way less. And it's not like cutting a side component is going to mean they only have to sell a small portion. Probably only need to sell 90-95% as many copies. So a small drop. But you must remember, the whole reason they're cutting features is because they're selling 5-10% as many copies as other versions. So it's not NEARLY enough to counter the difference. Even after cutting features and saving what, maybe 50k? 100k TOPS? They're still making little to no money off the games, or even taking a loss. Which is why 3rd party support is thinning out.

Even if 46,000 is all Activision needs to sell to make a profit, you're forgetting Economics 101. You're not taking into account TOTAL COST. Which includes the profit they COULD HAVE BEEN MAKING had they been using those development resources for something different. So they invest a million dollars to port a game to Wii U. And lets say it sells 50k, so it makes a small profit. Well, had they used that same million dollars and invested it into a game on another platform that would have sold 10x that amount, then their profit would have increased 10-100 fold. So they're losing money in the total cost of the game. Why profit $15k when you could have profited 150k with a non-Nintendo platform game?

I love Nintendo, but I studied economics in college and I know how these things work. Generally speaking at least. It is what it is. We just have to accept that fact, realize that 3rd parties are in it for the money, and either A) accept it or B) buy a second console

Dragoon04

#52

Dragoon04 said:

@Alucard83 Hardware power has never been the issue. Generation after Generation the system with the best offering comes out on top. gameboy colour won when the Game Gear was more powerful, playstation 2 won when xbox was more powerful, DS won when the psp was more powerful, wii won when the ps3 was more powerful. 3DS is winning when the vita is more powerful.

It has never been about specs.

SCAR392

#54

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
The only money they'd be saving is what they would have spent on servers. All that means is that they have to sell that many less copies. The Xbox One and PS4 aren't getting vs. multiplayer, either, and they might be sharing the same server that the 7th gen console have for the game. There's alot we don't know.

I understand that they could be using that money for something else, but guess what; they used it on Wii U. The game is on every platform, so it is on every console, including a Nintendo platform.

I'm not being biased. The fact is that Wii U's software sales expectations are low as hell, based on money alone. Now figure that they figured out how to port games back at launch, and it's only getting cheaper/easier to do so.

JaxonH

#55

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392 I'm a little confused. In your prior post you were saying cutting features saves a lot of money, now you're saying all it saves is server costs...? It saves more than server costs. It also saves the time and resources needed to port the code, but, that still is only 5-10% of total development costs.

The whole point of my posts was to clarify that there is an understandable reason why features are being cut. That underlying reason being 15 straight years of consistent underperformance with regards to AAA 3rd party games. Reason being, I hear alot of fans claim lack of parity is the cause, low sales is the effect, when in reality low sales is the cause, lack of parity is the effect.

Mitsuko_Chan

#56

Mitsuko_Chan said:

If only Michael Bay never got his dirty hands on the franchise, this would've been a good game.

Bizzyb

#59

Bizzyb said:

I have a feeling 3rd party publishers are conditioning people to NOT buy their games on Nintendos consoles.

I mean, every single major 3rd party Wii U release has missing features or content. It's utter BS and I guarantee MS nor Sony would allow this kind of crap to happen on their systems. At this point I almost feel as if MS and Sony have some kind of secret agreement that forces 3rd parties to gimp, undermine and sabotage Wii U versions of their games...otherwise Wii U versions WOULD be definitive versions with off tv play and Gamepad gameplay

Think about it folks...

Captain-Falcon

#61

Captain-Falcon said:

@Shiryu here's why you should never pre-order/buy before reviews.

The only game's i pre-order nowadays are mariokart and probably smash bros

Captain-Falcon

#62

Captain-Falcon said:

@DragonbornRito It is quite suprising for this franchise. Tranformers war and fall of cybertron are amazing games that i really enjoyed. They were great as 3rd person shooters in their own right, but the story was really great for transformers fans aswell. I guess the new devs aren't up to scratch because high moon studios were great.

@Bass_X0
Honestly, i spent way more time on multiplayer on past transformers games than on the campaign

EDIT:
I just looked at the playstation IGN review and wow... This game is bad

Unit_DTH

#63

Unit_DTH said:

How disappointing! I was going to get this on my Wii U just to play the online modes, but since those are oddly, not included in the Wii U version... I will not be buying this game at all... ever! Thank you activation for showing your true colors!

SCAR392

#64

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH - I never even said anything about about the multiplayer features; you did. I was just responding to your statement on why it was being excluded. I realize they save time by not porting the code, but most of the investment would be in servers, and they just don't think it's worth it for this game. Xbox One and PS4 aren't getting vs. multiplayer either, so they must not expect that good of sales on those consoles, either? They probably just don't want to support servers, because porting code is the smallest factor of that situation, compared to what it also requires, which is server support. They aren't going to port multiplayer code, if they then have to support servers.

You also ignored that I was saying that Wii was still a major success for 3rd parties AND Nintendo. You can say "well, Nintendo hasn't sold that many 3rd party games in 15 years", all you want, but it doesn't mean it has negatively effected 3rd parties at all. Just look at CoD Black Ops II. That game probably needed to sell like 70,000 copies based on other platform performance, and it has 100% sold enough to make Activision money. You're saying 3rd parties aren't making enough money, which is why they are cutting features, when they actually are making money, which is why they are releasing anything at all. They're just cheaping out by excluding multiplayer, that in turn requires servers.

JaxonH

#65

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

Server costs are a legitimate point, but they are but a small percentage of total development costs.

I'm not saying all 3rd parties make NO money on Nintendo ports, I'm saying they're not making enough. What you have to understand is the opportunity cost. Let's say you go to college 4 years to get a job making $60,000/yr as opposed to taking a job right out of high school to make $30,000/yr. What would that cost you? Well, let's say college costs you $40,000. You would probably think, "My education only cost $40,000". But in actuality, you didn't account for the OPPORTUNITY COST. The total cost. You forgot to take into account what you WOULD HAVE been making that 4 years while you were in school> you would have made $30,000/yr for 4 years, for a total of $120,000. That's IN ADDITION TO the $40,000 you paid to go to college. So your total cost is not 40k- your total cost is over 1/8 of a million dollars.

Likewise, just because a 3rd party game manages to scrape a small profit on a Nintendo platform, doesn't mean they're not losing money. Because what about the game they passed up on making for other consoles to accommodate that Nintendo port? Let's say they made $250k profit off a Wii port- what does that matter when they did so at the expense of losing a $2 million profit on a PS3 port they could have been working on?

Resources are limited. 3rd parties only have so many teams. Let's say, Developer A has 3 teams. Team A develops for PS4, game makes $3 million profit. Team B ports to X1, makes $3 million profit. Team C ports to Wii U, makes $100k profit. But Team C instead could have developed for PS3/360, and likely banked several million. That's money lost.

It's not just the profit they're making on Nintendo platforms (and that's when they actually DO make a profit- many times they actually lose money). It's the profit they're GIVING UP in order to do so. The potential profit forfeited to accommodate a less profitable alternative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost

SCAR392

#66

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
Ya, I understood that the first time you said it, like I said I did. My response was that they ultimately chose to port a game to Wii U, which would also mean it's a viable investment. All costs considered, Activision has probably made at least $10 million from the CoD series on Wii U.

They are already working on all the platforms they really need to, so there is no what if. They already have all the bases covered. They aren't sacrificing a PS3 port for a Wii U port. The only other platforms they aren't really releasing games on, is Vita or smartphones.

The amount of money they are making is surpassing their total cost, so it's not an issue.

JaxonH

#67

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

The best point you've made was in that statement right there. When you said "They ultimately chose to port the game to Wii U, which means it's a viable investment".

Although it should be noted that it simply means they "believe" it to be a viable investment, not that it necessarily is. But another good point you made actually might explain why they would bring it despite it not necessarily being a viable investment- they didn't have any better alternatives. In which case, all they have to do is not lose money. Better to put that team to use porting to Wii U and make a small profit then lay them off and make nothing. Although, if they thought they would actually LOSE money, they probably wouldn't have laid the team off, they would have divided them among the other teams to speed up production of the other versions. The fact they didn't do that tells us that they THINK Transformers on Wii U will at least break even.

Very enlightening debate actually.

SCAR392

#68

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH - Yes. Wii U is making 3rd parties money, that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise, for the most part.

JaxonH

#69

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

But again, that's like taking a minimum wage paying job over a job that pays 7 figures a year, and then saying "well I'm still making money". Well, sure you are. BARELY. And at the cost of millions of dollars you could be making elsewhere.

But I don't think 50k is all it takes to make money. Ubisoft sold over 600k copies of ZombiU and STILL didn't turn a profit. Nintendo said it would take over 750k sold just to break even on a Fire Emblem game. And neither of those games have online components. So 50k? That's woefully low, even for a port..

SCAR392

#70

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH - Your analogy is flawed. It's more like having that job that pays 7 figures, then having a little side thing that makes you another pile of money that is as much as a middle class job.

While I realize not every game is probably profitable at 50,000 sales, it is for alot of the games. ZombiU was a different occurence, entirely. That wasn't a multiplatform game that just used resources from Xbox 360. We're talking about multiplatform games.

JaxonH

#71

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

Again, if it was so profitable, why isn't everyone supporting the Wii U? It's just not profitable. It's common knowledge that even 250k is utterly horrible sales numbers, even for a low-budget multiplatform port. Even 500k is horrible sales numbers. 750k becomes somewhat respectable. But even multiplats that sell millions have been deemed failures. It's the cost of AAA nowadays. It ain't like it used to be. Times have changed. Even ports cost hella cash.

Vanya

#72

Vanya said:

As soon as this game got within a fictional parsec of the movie franchise I knew there was no hope for it as far as I'm concerned at least.
War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron were pretty much the best Transformers games to date. All they had to do was add more characters and more customization and they could have made a story about Bumblebee's first date and everyone would have loved it. But no, we had to Bayformers garbage involved. Not to mention a healthy dose of "not getting what actually made the other games good" on Edge of Reality's part.

SCAR392

#73

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
Ya, but Wii U ports only cost a fraction of what the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions do, so 250,000 is still a pretty good number. Even if the games aren't selling as well on Wii U, as they are on Xbox or PS, they are still selling well based on how much they paid for the game to be on that console.

All it comes down to, is whether these games are selling well enough on Xbox and PS to make a Wii U port, virtually painless. For example, by the time Watch Dogs is released on Wii U, the Xbox and PS versions will have paid for more than what a Wii U port would cost.

JaxonH

#74

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

Ya, but that's not an in-depth analysis. You have to account for opportunity cost. Business always goes for the largest profit. Period. Every time.

You could break down the numbers and get a Return on Investment (RoI), and as we can all see, the Wii U has the lowest RoI. Those resources will be better used helping to get the good selling versions out faster, in order to get the next game started and in turn get that game out faster (faster = quicker money = more money). And the RoI from dispersing the Wii U team, eliminating the Wii U version, and getting the other versions out faster, will far surpass the RoI from simply putting out a low selling Wii U version.

It's not as simple as "Wii U version made profit, so it warrants development". You could sell hot dogs and lemonade on the street and still make a profit. Doesn't mean the business is going to hit it's projected revenue or sustain enough growth doing so, though.

Making profit on Wii U isn't enough. Furthermore, Wii U ports aren't making profits. The vast majority is losing money in record numbers! If 50k is good enough, why isn't Assassin's Creed coming to Wii U this year? It sold THREE TIMES THAT. And Wii U ports are not all that cheaper than other versions. Unless you have a source proving otherwise? And again, I can't stress this enough- opportunity cost. That's assuming the AAA ports even WERE making money, which they're not. But even if they were, they're not making more than the developer could be making otherwise, utilizing those resources for the better selling platforms. If for nothing else, to get those versions out faster.

But don't take my word for it, listen to what the market has to say. And the market is saying 3rd party AAA ports don't make nearly enough profit, if they're even lucky enough to be profitable in the first place. How do we know the market is saying this? The mass exodus of AAA support on Wii U. If the games were posting adequate profits, we'd be seeing mass support right now. But we're not. We're seeing the opposite.

The market doesn't lie.

SCAR392

#75

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
Search "Wii U ports cost under $1.3 million for Ubisoft". I can't post a link, but a Google search should show some results that prove it's cheap as hell to port games to Wii U. So at full retail price, AC3 will have only had to sell like 30,000. I was just saying 50,000 to consider any other possible costs, such as game shipments, advertising, etc. So AC3 sold like 250,000 units, when the bare minimum was far less than that. The same applies to Sonic Racing, CoD, Skylanders, etc.

3rd parties are making money on Wii U = fact

We've already been over the oppurtunity cost. There are no other consoles to release the game on. The only other things they could spend money on, are new projects or faster development time. That's when the question is whether getting fast sales is more important than getting more sales. If they get 100,000 sales in a faster amount of time, that's not as worthwhile as getting 250,000 more sales.

JaxonH

#76

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

Lol dude, how much money do you think they make off a game? Like $10-20 tops, minus marketing budgets. And they don't sell all games at full retail. The vast majority are sold for half price or less, or in the case of Assassin's Creed, sub-$20 range.

But yes, you nailed it with faster development time. Simple example. They can make 2 games across 3 platforms (PS3/360/Wii U) for a total of 6 games, or they can make 3 games across 2 platforms (PS3/360) for a total of 6 games. Profit margins are 10-20 fold on PS3/360 than on Wii U. So which is the better option? 4 high RoI and 2 minimal RoI? Or 6 high RoI? That's right, they'll go with 6 high RoI games.

Again, don't take my word for it. You can tell me Wii U is profitable and worthwhile til the cows come home. If it were so profitable and worthwhile, why are 3rd party's abandoning Wii U like the bubonic plague? Why is Watch Dogs the ONLY major AAA game still in the pipeline for Wii U? The market has spoken. That's all there is to it. Publishers go where the money is. If the Wii U was such a "profitable" console for 3rd parties, they'd be putting all their games on it. So, why aren't they then?

SCAR392

#77

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
Well, it really depends. Based on the numbers that 3rd party games have sold, they more than made up for anything they paid to port the game and any other expenses.

The profit margin is not 10-20 fold on Xbox 360 and PS3. They've already invested tons of resources to get where they are on those consoles. Wii U showed up, and automatically got them them more sales from their 7 years of work on Xbox 360. They haven't invested nearly as much money into Wii U as they have 7th gen consoles.

Like I said, releasing games on Wii U is probably reliant on how well the game is doing on Xbox and PS. If these games are doing really well on Xbox and PS, it makes it that much more risk free to put the game on Wii U.

The market is entirely different than what these companies decisions are.

JaxonH

#78

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392

You're looking at things all wrong. Doesn't matter how much money 3rd parties have invested in PS3/360 in the past, or how much they've invested in Wii U now. All that matters is which platform is going to yield the highest return on investment. That's it. That's all that matters. They're not keeping score saying "well, we didn't have to build up the Wii U for these sales"> They don't care about that stuff. All they care about is, platform A = X Profit vs Platform B = Y profit. Which will yield a higher profit.

How well the game does on Wii U, or how much profit the game makes on Wii U, is irrelevant. All that matters is MORE can be made elsewhere. That's the bottom line. That's how business works. It's cut-throat capitalism. The way of the world my man...

There's a reason 3rd parties aren't putting AAA ports on Wii U right now. Try to keep that in mind.

SCAR392

#79

SCAR392 said:

@JaxonH
Yes it does. Their investment from Xbox 360 just naturally carried over to Wii U. That's why the games don't have to sell as well. This is why Sonic Racing was considered a huge success, because they brought a game to Wii U that yeilded just as much of a return as the Xbox 360/PS3, but they spent far less than they did on Xbox 360 and PS3 to get the same result. It's all about the ratios.

SCAR392

#80

SCAR392 said:

I know 3rd parties have reasons to not release games on Wii U, but what the reasons are can vary, and it's never really a comination of them. Ubisoft has that game that they won't release, and it is supposedly for families. The longer they wait for Wii U's install base to grow, the more money they will make when they launch the game, regardless of when they finished development.

Ubisoft has enough money to take their sweet time on releasing a Wii U game, so they want it to matter as much as possible when they finally do. The same thing applies to Watch Dogs. They'll launch it for the holidays and people will be buying Wii Us and games. Ubisoft hopes it's Watch Dogs. It doesn't even matter to Ubisoft that it will be launching late.

midnafanboy

#81

midnafanboy said:

@SCAR392 But the real question is will anyone give a damn about the game that ubisoft is waiting to release. I know i won't, between you that game their holding is rabbids rayman party.It won't make money just like the wiiu version of watch dogs won't make anything.

JaxonH

#82

JaxonH said:

@SCAR392 What makes you think Sonic Racing on Wii U cost so much less to make than other versions? You have one lead platform, and you have the rest.

Sonic Racing on Wii U is just like every other platform it's was ported to. Only reason that game and Rayman Legends aren't considered failures is because the other versions also tanked.

Nibelilt

#83

Nibelilt said:

‘The franchise licensing is so cynical that Activision presents us with "Press Y to View Licensing Agreement!" on the main menu.’

This seems like it might be part of Activision's games now. I noticed the same thing in Skylanders: Swap Force. (At least on the X360 version.)

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