Platforms: XBOX 360, PS3, PC
No one likes to read every word of a review, especially if you haven’t played the game yet. It is nice to see what functions work, and which don’t but I think ultimately since I have little time before work today, and the fact that little to no one cares about this game I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty. Lets just get right down to it… I intended to make this review short, but I guess there was a lot more to say than I originally intended so enjoy.
Bionic Commando hasn’t seen a sequel in over 20 years since the original NES. That’s pretty pathetic considering the game was always a fan favorite but its only shortcoming was its incredible difficulty. But back then, there were hundreds of NES titles that were hard. I still haven’t beaten the original Castlevania for NES and that had tons of remakes, and sequels.
But that aside, this game has been screaming for an update since 3D games came about and it was finally delivered. But was it accepted?
The game is exactly what you’d expect from the series if you’re familiar with it. You run around a large city scape, your bionic arm can pretty much attach to anything, and you get an assortment of guns to use to defend yourself. Considering last year GRIN made a remake of Bionic Commando for the XBLA you would think they would have used the great aspects of that game in their new one. They failed to do so. My biggest complaint was that you always carry a pistol, you always carry a stash of grenades, and you have one more slot that you can carry a varying gun such as a grenade launcher, assault rifle, etc. Oh man, I just ran out of the 5 rounds for my launcher, better get some ammo…. Or not.
These special guns are dropped by your commanding officer at certain points in the game, and if you need what they are giving you than its all good. If not, then they sit there and there is no sense going back to get it cause that would defeat the purpose of linear gameplay. Why can I not hold every gun in an inventory like I could in BC: Rearmed? Let’s face it, the game doesn’t boast any amount of realism so allowing me to hold all guns would have made a lot of sense, but they chose to make it stupid like that and that really hurt the game in my opinion. Also consider that you have a multitude of challenges that are gun based and since the 3rd person shooting system is not that accurate in a 3d space without a targeting system the whole thing failed miserably. Would have been nice to see them think about that a little more before releasing a game that is actually backwards in progression from BC: Rearmed.
Next you have the Swing mechanic which worked well. In the original you could not grapple vertical surfaces, only ceilings and platforms above you. This changed in Bionic Commando, and it was for the better. Allowing you to quickly scale a building with your arm was a nice change to the sequel. And when you did swing with forward motion it was all about skill as you had to time your swing in order to get maximum distance. Being able to hold the swing button down and have him automatically grab anything in sight was great, and really added to the feel of the game.
Have you heard about the radiation in the game? I bet you have and what every source has been saying about it is dead on. You will swing into areas where it seems safe, and then to your surprise instantly the screen starts to flash and you’ll be dead before you can say Oscar Meyer. This was very frustrating, especially since in the beginning it seems that the only area’s you can’t explore have a blue hue to them. As the game progresses, it gets much harder to discern where these areas are and it will cost you. So what happens when you die? Well be prepared to start at your last checkpoint, which are few and far between. The game will punish the hell out of you for dying, and will make you go do it all over again. Now if the game was perfect I’d say, no problem, but since its not its a total frustration and takes away from the experience.
I didn’t save the best for last and in this case its true. The story is mediocre except for a particular part towards the end when you find out something interesting about the Bionic’s program that you were a part of. I find its important to put my take on this cause it interested me personally… SPOILER ALERT…
The story takes an odd twist at the end as the man you try to save in the original Bionic Commando turns out to be working with the terrorist organization. Super Joe your other Bionic Buddy is your commanding officer in the beginning and throughout the game, but as the game comes close to a end you find out he is a traitor working on his on plan for world domination with the use of bionics… which by the way, are outlawed and shunned by the government and public. So now your goal is track him down and stop him ( what a twist! or not.) I failed to mention the reason Nathan Spencer (main character) is doing all this dirty work is he wants to find out the truth behind his wife Emily which he hasn’t seen in 7+ years. As you get to the last area of the game the truth is revealed and Joe tells you that during the course of constructing bionics such as your arm, they couldn’t accurately find a way to meld machine with the man, so they had to find another way to create a link to the bionics and the host. This is where I became interested cause it somewhat follows the story of the Full Metal Alchemist Series. Nathans wife was used as a catalyst in the creation of the bionic arm that is attached to Nathan. That’s pretty awful and gruesome if you think about it, and where that follows Full Metal is that in the two kids try to bring back their mother with alchemy and without knowing the Alchemic laws they end up losing a arm, and leg and the one brother’s body is consumed entirely. Something needed to be given in order for something to be gained. I found that pretty deep but that’s where the story pretty much peaks at, as you literally plummet through the rest of it with hardly any substance. There is hardly any final battle, and the ending well is quite possibly the dumbest ending since Bioshock. (No hate mail please) You kill Super Joe and fall endlessly into a black hole in a storage facility and the game goes to credits. I might mentioned there is more after the credits, but its in Morse Code. SERIOUSLY?
So in the end I liked the swing mechanics and the changes made to them. I also enjoyed the challenges they throw in to make things a bit more interesting. I didn’t like the weapon inventory system, story, and radiation that likes to kill you instantly upon exposure to it. Other than that the game was good, though it wasn’t what I had hoped, but I think in the bargain bin this might be something to pick up and try if your so inclined.
Look for a review of prototype in the coming week as well and when better screen shots are uploaded for Metroid Other M, I’ll be posting my thoughts on that too.