Autobots! Transform and roll out! Or, in this case, Bumblebee, transform and roll out! Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition is the latest Transformers’ game to put us in the shoes of those hulking Autobots in a quest to stop all forms of mechanised evil.
This time, however, it’s evil of the human kind that needs a motorised smackdown. A villain known as Mandroid tries to wipe out all Transformers life on Earth using both his own lightweight robotic creations and some heavier mind-controlled Decepticons.
Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition is, unsurprisingly, based on the Transformers: Earthspark animated series. As such, it’s definitely aimed at the younger market that enjoys the show. Sure, Transformers fans of all ages can check it out, but its simplistic design and gameplay mechanics aim it firmly at youngsters and maybe die-hard fans who’ll consume anything Transformers.
Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition adheres closely to the gameplay and visual style of licensed games from the PS2 era. It clearly knows its audience and adjusts its focus as such. You’ll be taking on the role of fan-favourite Bumblebee as he’s tasked with discovering and stopping Mandroids latest scheme and, in good old-fashioned game design, that means turning a whole bunch of autonomous metal into scrap with your fists.
Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition relegates projectile weapons to secondary status here, focusing almost entirely on melee combat in brawler style. Projectile weapons are fairly ineffective, mainly useful for staggering enemies, breaking shields, hitting switches, or slowly chipping away at distant turrets. The most effective method of destroying enemies is by punching and kicking them into submission, with a few useful combos that can chain your punches and kicks together.
A simple skill tree lets you unlock new tricks to use, with both passive and aggressive abilities, often leading to new combos. There’s nothing really novel here, but some of the unlocked combos become incredibly useful spam moves in tougher fights. Defeating enemy bots and engaging in side activities will give you the resources, which you need to invest in new moves and character customisation bits – such as the type of trail you leave behind in vehicle mode.
Where Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition feels most like a PS2 game is in its objectives and repetitive design. The action takes place across large levels that require you to perform a series of simple tasks to reduce Mandroid’s presence in the area – and what you do in one level, is what you’ll be doing across all levels, with enemy placement in specific locations that feel like an excuse to break up the flow between areas.
These objectives include taking over outposts that then become fast travel points, finding cards for Bumblebee’s collection, destroying drilling outposts, running races, finding lost items, and beating up a set number of bots within a time limit. Once you’ve cleared enough of the objectives, the path to Mandroid’s lair in the area is opened. Here you’ll engage in some light exploration before facing off against a Decepticon boss.
While the levels themselves are large, they feel more like open areas linked together by corridors. There’s no beaten path to go off of, and it ends up feeling like a design to give you a reason to use vehicle mode – given Bumblebee is fairly slow in robot mode. It never gets more complicated than this, which is fine when you take the target audience into account – but it isn’t long before repetition sets in and you wish for a little more variation.
The combat at least holds up, with Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition taking a cue from the Arkham Knight games and Bayonetta. Bumblebee can launch between enemies when needed and pulling off a perfect dodge slows down time for a bit, allowing you to wail on the enemies. Sadly, enemy design is as repetitive as the objectives, with many types repeated as larger and smaller variants, maybe with their abilities swapped around. The bulk of the challenge comes from the developers throwing everything they have at you.
Visually, Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition looks nice and surprisingly colourful, befitting the show from which the game sprang. There are some nice materials that make the game look very cartoony without looking cel-shaded and the visuals held up well across both the Xbox Series X and the aged Xbox One – though the Xbox Series X clearly benefits from the higher resolution and looks more vibrant. Oh, and while testing it on the Xbox One the game locked up on me multiple times.
One of the Transformers’ main highlights is, of course, transforming, and the developers have nailed that animation beautifully. Transforming between modes is handled with the press of a button and is accompanied by that wonderful Transformers sound effects that we all love. Transformations also happen swiftly as there’s some use for your alternate mode in combat too.
Ultimately, Transformers: Earthspark – Expeditions‘ biggest foe isn’t a hulking Decepticon, but rather the feeling of repetition across its large levels. It wasn’t long before I’d seen all the mission variety there was, and left with the feeling that I was scrapping the same old hunks of metal all day long. Some tighter level design, along with better pacing and variety, would have done wonders. As such, I found Transformers: Earthspark – Expeditions better played in short bursts. Transformers: Earthspark – Expeditions is a perfectly fine game for younger Transformers fans, and maybe for die-hard fans of the show to sink their teeth into. Older fans, however, may not find enough to hold their attention for very long.
Transformers: Earthspark – Expeditions was reviewed on Xbox Series S|X using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC, Xbox One, PS4/5, and Nintendo Switch.
Transformers: Earthspark - Expedition (Xbox) ReviewTransformers: Earthspark - Expedition (Xbox) Review
- Satisfying melee combat
- Transforming animations are well done
- Nice visuals and audio
- Combat eventually becomes tiresome
- Repetitive missions
- Multiple game freezes when played on the Xbox One