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Bionic Commando is the rather late current generation sequel to the classic NES game Bionic Commando. It's a third person action platform style game, with the entire game centring around the abilities of the main character's Bionic arm.
At first, the way the game plays is a little daunting, because the mechanics behind the way the arm works are very different from the way any other game plays. It's very intuitive though, and in not too much time at all, you'll be swinging around like a pro. In a nutshell, your arm attaches to various surfaces and helps you swing to and from different areas of the game world. Although set out in a kind of open world environment, the game keeps you on course with walls of radiation, forcing you back into the mission area should you veer too far off course.
In addition to your rather cool bionic arm, you will find various other weapons littered around the game world to help you dispose of your enemies, including machine guns, pistols, grenade launchers and rocket launchers. Enemies are pretty varied, ranging from basic grunts to flying armed-to-the-teeth robots. By and large the game isn't too much of a struggle. It's not a walk in the park by any means, but neither is it much of a head scratcher, or a Ninja Gaiden. Boss fights are excellent, exciting, and are extremely satisfying once you figure them out and beat them.
Overall, I'd recommend this game to any action or platforming fan. It's just a pretty meatheaded platformer, and it makes no bones about that. It's not going to confuse you for any particular length of time, it's not going to make you want to throw your controller at the TV, and it's certainly not the best game you'll ever play, but boy, is it fun.
Bionic arm is practically a man who has been given this "Bionic arm" (no surprise there) and with this as you advance in this unpredictable story line you are slowly given the ability to use a variaty of different powers to use to destroy everyone / thing in your path.
This game, however brutal or serious it tries to be i could never really take it seriously, as your fly through the air like some form of burly spiderman with a rocket launcher on your shoulder and a showgun in your hand, as you could probably picture the image.
However even though the concept is so surreal the graphics for this game blew me away, the realisticness of everything within the game really made me realise how much time and effort they had put in to making it.
The vast range of different enemies made every level new and challenging, but dont worry for you are displayed with new weapons on many random different occations to help you fight back what ever challenges you.
Bionic Commando (2009)
Back in the 80s when gaming was simpler, players were given quite a revolutionary game called Bionic Commando. A side scroller in which, rather than jumping over obstacles and shooting enemies in your path, you couldn't jump but could use a bionic arm which could attatch to objects and swing over traps and deadly pits. And while you could fire guns, you could also throw objects at enemies using the arm. It was really quite impressive for it's time, and as shown recently in the Xbox Live Arcade remake, still holds up today. But now it's time for the next-gen sequel of Bionic Commando which goes into the third dimension trying to wow the current gaming market. Is it 'armless fun or a bionic failure?
The story in Bionic Commando takes place ten years after the events of the original game. After serving his country well, the government decided to lock up protagonist Spencer as they consider him a threat to the country. But now, ten years after his placing in death row, he is needed again. Ascension City has been completely obliterated by nuclear weapons which have left buildings crumbling and barely anyone alive. Apparently the only man for the job, the F.S.A has temporarily released Spencer from prision and has sent him in to investigate, and maybe find his missing wife. Probably one of the dire parts of Bionic Commando, the story is pretty much terrible. Heavy handed dialogue, cheesy acting, dreadful twists and a confusing ending all make the game's plot rather rotten. The game tries to go for the heavy handed, confusing style of Metal Gear and almost completely fails to achieve it.
Thankfully, some of Bionic Commando is much better than the story. The game is a third-person shooter/platformer which takes place in the irradiated Ascension city. Many people thought that BC would be an open-world game where you can swing freely around the city completing the main story. However, BC couldn't have been more opposite-it's actually rather linear in many ways. The game only sets you down one path, where exploration is discouraged by Radiation an annoying feature in Bionic Commando where if you go off the correct path, you will die a horrible death by radiation poisoning and have to reload the last checkpoint. This means you either go down the right path or you die. It's an awkward and annoying way to force the players down the correct path, but also causes several breakdowns in other parts of the game.
Spencer's bionic arm is perhaps the best thing going for this game, and i some respects it thrives. The game nails the feeling of swinging and it's easy to use. Basically, you look at an object and when the arrows around it turn to a colour, you can swing to it with a touch of the left trigger. You can also attatch to higher objects and grapple up to them. It's a fun take on the platforming genre and quite refreshing considering that the platforming genre is rarely explored nowadays. However the platforming shoots itself in the leg on several regards. This is mainly due to the radiation which limits you to a set path meaning it feels more like a game of simon-says though to be fair the path you are shoved down does allow for some freedom like which direction to swing in but the radiation takes out much of the freedom of some platformers and the linearity of the game as a whole is really quite disappointing. Yet the thrill of when you chain several swings in sucession and go sailing through the air is really quite exciting.
Spencer's arm isn't just used for swinging though, unlike the NES original the arm can also be used for combat. As you progress through the game you unlock abilities in combat like the ability to pick up objects and throw them, the ability to perform a lasso-style whip which takes out any enemies in the vacinity, an ability where you can pound the ground after a big jump and more. These abilites can be quite fun to use in combat, especially when you can, for example, pick up an enemy and throw them into a group of other enemies, killing them all. However, combat, in general is quite mediocre thanks to several elements which make the shooting somewhat laughable in some respects. The bionic arm is the combats only real saving grace as it makes for some decent fun when you get more of the better bionic combat abilities.
You do get guns in the game, but to be honest, most of them are quite pathetic. The standard pistol, shotguns and assault rifles sound more like toy guns rather than vessels of death. There are a couple of decent weapons-the grenade launcher when used correctly is quite powerful. But most of the handguns and wepons are really quite boring to be honest. The other issues in the game's combat are due with the enemy types. The standard grunts can be killed in pretty much any way you want, meaning that the freedom of combat is great. But then the other kind of enemies come in and is much more limited. The big mech-style enemies are pretty much only defeated with guns, meaning the bionic abilites are limited. Snipers can pretty much only be dealt with another sniper rifle, and most of the time if there's only one way to kill an enemy, it's clearly highlighted. There are a couple of big boss fights in the game, but much like the mechs or the snipers, they usually only require one weapon or method of killing them.
There is one cool system in Bionic Commando where you are constantly given challenges throughout the game. Basically, as you keep playing you unlock challenges which if you complete will give you rewards for example if you perform a challenge, it could improve your armour or simply unlock a new challenge. It can be incredibly addictive trying to complete as many challenges as you can, though if you complete a challenge, die, reload a checkpoint and don't complete it you'll have to do it again. These tie in with the game's achievements, which around 80% come from completing challenges in the game. The rest come from completing the game on hard and the hardest difficulties and finding all the collectables. You could probably earn a good 600GS on your first playthrough unless you really lack skill, and the game isn't the toughest on Commando difficulty. Overall, the achievements are fun and actually relate to the game.
The game's campaign is pretty chunky, lasting at about 10 hours or more depending on what difficulty you play the game on. The game also supports multiplayer for 8 players online. While that's quite a small amount of players, the multiplayer is quite unique in some respects. While the team deathmatch/deathmatch modes are standard, safe for some trips to the uncanny craziness with the bionic arm duels, the capture the flag mode is unique thanks to the way that there's much more room for travelling in multiplayer. You'll be swinging from building to building as you try to escape the other team with their flag in your possession. It's not groundbreaking, but the capture the flag mode is fun, and the game has a good amount of players with decent connection during games. If Capcom support the game in the future with downloadable maps and updates, BC's multiplayer could flourish. However, its one stellar mode isn't enough to support it right now.
Graphically, Bionic Commando is a bit mixed. Technically, it looks rough around the edges with crude enemy character models and stiff animations when grappling onto them. The environments can look rough at times and the game doesn't stay at a smooth frame rate all the time. However, Spencer's animation for swinging is fantastic, bringing the platforming to life and making it joyful to see. Another bright spot for the visuals is the art design-the destroyed Ascension City looks suitably ruined, with crumbling buildings, flooded areas and radiated wastelands. It's the best post-apocalyptic setting since Fallout 3 graced us last year. However, one questionable element is the game's advertising. While fake advertisements related to games like Dead Rising and Resident Evil 5 are some nice Easter eggs, the advertisements for real-life products like Pepsi look a bit out of place in a completely destroyed city and are more annoying than anything else.
The sound, on the other hand, is quite mixed. The voice work is rather crap, even Faith No More singer Mike Patton is annoying with Spencer's sense of cockyness and selfish attitude make the main character rather unlikeable. The heavy handed dialogue in this game is a far cry from the funny and enjoyable humour from the first game, which is a shame. The sound effects are also quite lackluster, especially the gun effects which sound pathetically weak. The first Bionic Commando's soundtrack is actually available to buy on ITunes which shows how great it was. However, in BC on the 360, the music here is sparse and forgettable with maybe a handful of moments where the game's awesome music from the first game comes through in the games more explosive moments. So, weak acting, laughable sound effects and sparse music are the tell tale signs of lacklustre sound.
Is Bionic Commando (2009) good, bad or ugly?
The next-generation sequel to the innovative NES game doesn't live up to the original at all. Sure, it has the bionic arm, it has the main character from the original and it has lots of objects to swing on, but this sequel fails to live up to the original in anyway. Gone is the great humour, charm and fun of the NES game and instead we get a cocky idiot with dreadlocks, little freedom in how we can swing through the levels, mediocre combat, a completely heavy handed and depressing tone and lacklustre sound. The only thing really going for this game is its impressive post-apocalyptic setting and swinging mechanics in platforming and combat, but it's all wasted with several flaws which drive this game into the pits of mediocrity. It's a unique game in some way, with so little platforming games available these days, but that doesn't make Bionic Commando superiour to the higher quality games available on 360. If you're dying to play this, rent it. Otherwise, save your money for other games coming out this year and don't waste your time with this bionic dud.
Bionic Commando (2009) was released on May 22nd, 2009 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It is rated 15+ for strong language and violence and can be bought for around £30-35. There is also being a PC version coming later in the year.
Arm yourself! The 20 year wait is over as Bionic Commando swings back into action!