reviewed on X360
I can’t say enough about this game. I think it was fantastic and urge others to at least try it. Unfortunately, I know that many players will not be able to appreciate the intricacies of the swinging mechanic, which is the majority of the game. If such is the case, it is a shame, but I also feel special that the game is more an acquired taste, one that grows on you as you become more familiar like a fine wine.
Starting off, Bionic Commando is definitely one of those games where a player will either love it or hate it. It is not the spider-man training wheels swinging where all you do is hold down a button and control where you want to go. Momentum, timing, and plain old gut instinct is required for each and every jump/swing. At first this will be frustration. Much like last year’s Mirrors Edge this game is a lot about fluidity. It is difficult to find the game enjoyable when you are botching jumps, missing swings, and dying repeatedly.
You play as the original Bionic Commando Nathan Spencer, who is recently released from imprisonment as he is needed to stop the terrorist threat. There is a cloudy past as his wife disappeared immediately after his accident which resulted in his Bionic Arm attachment and there is a bit of resentment after being falsely imprisoned. There are a few returning characters, which I barley remember having only played the Rearmed remake last year. We have to remember here, Bionic Commando is making a return after a 20 year hiatus. It is being marketed to new players as well as nostalgic ones so the story will most likely not be on most of player’s minds.
Story? What’s going on?
So, the story. I’ll be honest. It’s not spectacular. It’s a major eyesore on such a well packaged game and it’s almost safe to say, it is barley existent. More could have been done to make it more engaging or memorable. I have already forgotten the names of the characters and while I remember specifics of the terrorist plot, it is difficult for a story to become deeply rooted when much of it is told through on-screen text, which you discover through hacking terminals over the course of the game. The ending somewhat of a let down, as it lacked a bit of focus and also I feel that relationships were never fully developed to their full potential. These have been the complaints from many of the other reviews I’ve read but I feel many have blown these faults out of proportion. Bionic Commando was never about the story. The success should have been directly related to the unique game play which is, in all honesty, fantastic.
Since You Mentioned it
If you are able to hang around long enough to get a firm gasp of the controls, Bionic Commando is one of the most satisfying games around. There is nothing like timing and landing that perfect swing, where everything goes right. You don’t miss a beat. And you hit the ground while in mid run. It really is a beautiful thing.
The game is not a shooter, so don’t expect to find every gun known to man. The game has its’ standard set of weapons which I found to be very solid. The simplicity determined the usage and situation. The aiming rarely posed the threat of complication, which often times is a problem in games where shooting is not the focus.
There are moments in this game which I will remember long after my Bionic Arm has been put on the shelf. Swinging through the city dodging sniper fire or managing the waves of enemies storming the archives are situations unique to this game. A few of the larger than life boss battles, which I feared would unforgiving and frustrating like in Lost Planet, were more than satisfying and the locales and environments really need to be seen and heard to be experienced.
Sights and Sounds
Visually, the game is good. It’s not the most stunning game I’ve ever seen but it is still very nice to look at, especially on a widescreen high definition TV. What Bionic Commando does extremely well is locations. Over the course of the game Nathan Spencer will be swinging through decimated cities, lush jungles, echoing caverns, indoor expansive buildings and even at night across an oil rig in the ocean. Each location is gorgeous to look at and adds to the experience freedom of swing travel.
In comparisons to Spider-man, I’ve heard that Bionic Commando would have benefited from using an open world expansive map. While I agree that limiting the player from traveling wherever they wish was a bit of a let down, being stuck in a city and missing out on the areas offered would have been more of an error.
For the Future
Already, I am looking forward to a sequel, but the real question is whether there will actually be one? As much as I want this game to sell well, I have a feeling its’ uniqueness will keep it out of enough hands. Even if this is not your type of game, it is critical that games such as these are still being developed. For the industry to keep growing and not become stale these chances must be taken. The problem is that if the risks are not immediately rewarded, it will be very difficult to convince a company to take another one. I would never flat out tell someone to go buy a game. Everyone is different and there is no sure fire guarantee for anything. But I can say that in some form or fashion, you should play this game, at least to the Buraq Battle. There is a high probability that you will either love it or hate it. Greater risks will lead to greater rewards, so which will it be?
No Pros and Cons at this time