If you love Spider-Man and his web-slinging/swinging shenanigans, if you love giant robot arms and have a desire to learn the nuances of CAPCOM's latest 3rd person take on a good old favourite game, then jump right into Bionic Commando and experience the transition to 3d that is overall a solid game, with some annoying flaws here and there.
Nathan 'Rad' Spencer is back and this time it's all about the arm baby. Having had yours taken off you, put on Death Row because people are all scared of Bionics after saving their ass in the Bionic Commando games, Spencer is rolled out of near-terminal retirement because some crazy koo-koo faction blows the crap out of the city and suddenly they need the very man they're about to blow away.
You're packed into a drop pod and dropped off with your arm landing elsewhere into a city that's ready to make your head spin, since this is all about the arm swinging baby.
The controls will take some time to master but very little time to learn, there are some nice swinging moves and overall that part of the game is handled really well, not quite as refined as Spider-Man 2 for swing-navigation but getting there on the scale of fun. The game is set in various locations; these are linear, very linear from A-B kind of affairs. Spencer can use his arm to swing around and you're taught the moves early on via a much-needed tutorial. He can also grab onto buildings, people and even throw certain objects at his enemies with the arm. There's nothing quite like grabbing and tossing a person around like a rag doll to lend a sense of Spencer's badass nature to the proceedings, well except perhaps zip-kicking a guy in the face.
There are some weapons as well, a weedy pistol that is about as much use as a pop-gun and a nice multi-rocket launcher known as the Tarantula that happens to be the best damn thing in the game. There's also a grenade launcher and a sniper rifle, none of these are really well done though, they're sort of vanilla and you find you'll be disappointed in the payoff for everything except the Tarantula, because that thing is sweet.
This is the epitome (new word for me) of linear based games, just like its side-on counterpart you're going from point A to B and killing a bunch of badguys in-between. There are some nice boss fights and overall the spread of enemies is pretty decent. The problem is that it gets repetitive fairly quickly and with a lack of really cool upgrades and weapons, it becomes a third person Gears of Swing, or Swingers of War fast.
Occasionally the controls didn't seem as precise as they should have been and upon noting this was developed by Grin, who did Wanted Weapons of Fate and Terminator Salvation, I began to expect the worst. Whilst Wanted did raise the bar for movie based titles, Terminator buried the bar in the dirt once more so deeply that even a retarded Badger strapped to a rack could jump it.
Then there are the radiation pockets that you have to avoid, these will kill you quick and since you can stray outside of the game's chosen route, most of the time it uses these to keep you focused on your next waypoint. Don't expect to explore too far. Bionic Commando also has an upgrade system for weapons and Nathan, usually you perform various challenges to unlock a trophy or achievement and this in turn either opens a new challenge or rewards you with an in-game joyus bonus. Upgraded armour, better pistol accuracy and so on.
Bionic Commando on any platform, even the PS3 is a good looking game. There's the occasional tearing issue or a texture that seems misplaced. However these are few and far between, for the most part it looks really nice with a good level of detail on everything and a quality polish on most enemies and objects. The level design is pretty good as well with some nice environments to traverse and some excellent things to see.
Good stuff. The animation in the game is one of the highlights and delivers a really well animated character. Nathan is well done, his moves look good and the combat moves are pretty damn good to watch. You could do worse, like say, buy Terminator Salvation, or should I say, one of the shortest games on the planet.
Er, things blow up, things are knocked down. There's physics in there somewhere and Nathan's swinging has really good physics in that respect, nuff said.
Some enemies use cover, some are dumb as rocks, season to taste and add a grating of game cheesiness to a few of the bad guys. I almost feel like I'm back in the Arcades.
It's not bad, the weapons are weak and the environments feel a little stale at times with a lacking audio atmosphere. I guess that's what you get when some crazy Bionic Terrorists blow stuff up.
I like the music, it's not going to win any game soundtrack awards but it does a good job of keeping up with the action on screen when you're in combat and the lull when you're not. Not quite Epic, but not falling to pieces either (aha, you see what I did there?)
Following on from my Epic comment, growl-master, Mike Patton (singer: Faith No More, who also released the album Epic and falling to pieces is one of their song lyrics, aren't I clever? Give me a prize) provides the voice of Nathan and almost sounds like he's toned back his Darkness voice from the game of the same name. Still, I like Mike so he can do no wrong. The script lends well to the overall video-game cheesy of the actual game itself and as long as you don't take it too seriously, it works.
With some lag issues and the occasional drop-out, it's not that stable yet. There's the unholy trinity of Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and Teamdeathmatch to keep you going and it's probably more fun to lock-onto some poor sap with the Tarantula and fire a multi-rocket party his way. However most games devolved into Bionic Swing and latch dog-fights which took some skill to counter or pull off. If you like this kind of thing then you'll probably find there's something in the multiplayer to keep you company through those long winter nights before a really great game comes along.
Is Bionic Commando a great game?
No, its pretty average really, it doesn't blow as hard as Terminator Salvation, but then, not even an expensive sex worker from Bangkok could manage that feat.
So pick it up if you want to turn CAPCOM's classic into a 3rd person romp that's pretty worth it. Otherwise save your money and get a Nathan 'Rad' Spencer haircut!