Release Date: 05/19/2009
Let me tell you about a game I played when I was still young…
Story / Modes
It’s the Dirty Dozen story. You are Nathan Spencer, the bionic commando, and you’re pretty pissed off.
After saving everyone’s ass, the world, etc, they rip off your bionic arm and throw you in jail. On the way to your execution, a bionic rights terrorist group blows up the city and, not only do they not do you in, but they give you your arm back and send you out against them with promises of a pardon if you are successful.
Gee. Thanks guys. Thanks for all that appreciation of past effort.
So Super Joe, your past commanding officer who sold you down the river, tells you what to do and calls in resupply weapon drops for you.
As the game progresses, the story unfolds about what the Bionic Terrorists are after, who their mysterious leader is and what they’re after, and secrets about what happened to Nathan’s missing wife and past comrades.
It’s not Hamlet, but the plot was more interesting than most I’ve played lately.
Modes in the current interaction feel a bit limited. Story mode has the expected Normal/Hard/Impossible difficulty settings. Taking on specific levels does not enable the pokemon style item collection that, if you are an OCD maniac with a mechanical arm fetish, you can painstakingly collect every single item in the game in single player to unlock concept art.
I gave that feature a hearty “no thanks” and decided to just concentrate on the storyline instead of working on performing nearly impossible arm swings so that I might catch’em all.
Multiplayer is available but is the typical deathmatch, team DM, and CTF varieties. No surprises there.
Story Rating: Good
I found that the Diesel Engine worked very well. Normally my disposition in shooter games is to hate on thumb twiddley console shooters to the point of not being willing to play them.
Yes. I really don’t like them. I prefer mouse-based shooters nearly all the time.
This one, to my surprise, worked ok with the aiming and weapon functionality. I wasn’t very annoyed even when I was expected to make running leaps and shoots while and after making big swings with the bionic arm.
The heat and explosions are well done. Enemies go limp and ragdoll off of buildings and assorted bits of ruined landscape and sagging structures in satisfying ways.
A couple of things that didn’t make the leap from the concept art was a clear idea of what areas were irradiated. The only vague blue glow that signified the areas where you’ll die quick because of your heightened sensitivity to radiation with your bionic body should have been more clear. Perhaps they toyed around with it and found the aesthetic to work better in an understated way.
Graphics Rating: Good
The voice talent it top shelf in this one. I liked all of them. I found the effects and sound both interesting and engaging.
Nathan is pissed off all the time and Mike Pattons voice worked for me in the role. Steven Blum as Super Joe also sounded good and I enjoyed their unhappy to be working with each other sequences.
People sounded genuinely angry and more than a little mentally unhinged, which seemed only appropriate.
Sound Rating: Good (hat trick run of three)
Control and Gameplay
There was clearly a lot of care taken in this area. The BioReign soldiers will hear you if you run. They’ll see you if you swing too high over the skyline. When they see you, they take cover and shoot at you.
This is not an open world game, but at times it feels like it is. This is a remake of a classic game and not GTA with a whupass arm.
As for me, one who enjoyed the feeling of difficulty and challenge in the unnatural actions of the bionic arm, this game remained true to form in that the arm was easy to use but difficult to master. At times, one might even say that the arm was hard to use effectively.
What other people were missing was that was the whole idea! It’s hard to use and difficult to master. Becoming adept at using the arm and taking out foes in an efficient and tactically impressive way is a challenging activity.
What I’m saying here is that the same feel of the game fit between original release, current gamesystem remake/retro release of Bionic Commando: Rearmed and this title. It feels right; it produces echos of the same experience that I enjoyed in previous Bionic Commando incarnations.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good
After a finish on normal difficulty, I found that playing on hard is an entirely different animal. The areas that I had passed without difficulty previously now required new tactics to transverse. The snipers faster, the trooper firepower more effective in blowing your bionic ass up.
I mention this because increased difficulty is harder and different in the tactics required. Different than “Oh. Well I’ll just need to go slower.
Multiplayer is there but wasn’t something I was interested in pursuing overly much. That it is there is enough.
Replayability Rating: Very Good
The game is very hard in some areas, mostly in the platformer areas that depend on precision swinging while firing weapons, and fairly easy in most of the stand-up fighting.
Combat skills are slowly granted by an obvious plot device that adds some depth to the development process.
Actually. Let me expound on that a bit.
It seems that games get put into two categories now:
“They give you all of the skills/weapons/abilities up front and you just use/min-max the same abilities through the whole game. This game sucks.”
“They make you earn all of your abilities throughout the game. You’re a freakin’ super soldier. It’s stupid. This game sucks.”
I thought that the latter worked in this title. It kept combat fresh and interesting for a while. Not forever, but for a while.
Balance Rating: Enjoyable
A remake of an old title is not very original, but the new adaptations to fit the old form are of original note.
Instead of soldiers, you have bionic troopers.
Instead of mini-tanks, you have biomechs.
Instead of the upgrades from the classic release that are collected, they’re unlocked by performing achievements or feats.
It was a tall order to make this release and they pulled off new features while staying true to the feeling of the past. I give them high marks for their efforts.
Originality Rating: Above Average
I played through the whole game on normal in one weekend. It was a very rewarding experience nearly all of the way through. I tried to put it down and go outside, but it just wasn’t working out. The journey and unknown about what was to come next kept me swapping out controllers as my batteries died.
Addictiveness Rating: Great
The big boss battles. The reviving of an old classic franchise while keeping true to the challenge and feel of the original. The quality voice acting and environmental conditions. Fun optional sub-missions that unlock weapon and ability upgrades.
This game is well paced, it’s well thought out in skill development, and it’s frustrating while remaining fun.
Appeal Factor: Incredible
I really can’t overstate the importance of this title feeling like the old classic. There’s something about swinging on a mechanical arm into combat and the reward of getting good at avoiding death by its use that is really fun.
Not only did I enjoy this title more than most did, it seems, but I’m already looking forward to the followup that they are obviously planning given their Metal Gear Solid type endgame plot.
Miscellaneous Rating: Great
Control and Gameplay: Very Good
Replayability: Very Good
Originality: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Incredible
FINAL SCORE Very Good Game
Short Attention Span Summary
My most anticipated release of the year to date did not disappoint. Bionic Commando offers giant boss battles, fun abilities, and large scale vertical platforming all fit together into a solid and very fun title.