Bionic Commando

Bionic Commando is a game that addresses a very important question: where can one possibly go after having thwarted a politically aggressive camp of mentalists’ plans to resurrect Hitler? The answer is disclosed in this re-imagining-come-sequel of the ’88 NES classic as we are reunited with our hero, Nathan “RAD” Spencer. This iteration is set ten years after the NES game and begins with Spencer being released by the government’s Super Joe (a main non-player character from the NES game). Having had Spencer falsely imprisoned five years earlier, Super Joe needs him to tackle BioReign. This is a terrorist group that’s rather peeved by the present outlawing of bionics and is thereby attempting to overthrow the governmental order of the FSA. BioReign has already turned Ascension City into a radiation-fogged mess. Luckily for us, Spencer is its only real hope of taking them down, and he’s reunited with his bionic arm for this very purpose.

The story that unfolds in Bionic Commando is undeniably cheesy, and I don’t mean in a wonderfully Big Trouble in Little China kind of way, either. You can feel assured that nothing is really going to shock you with this one. Some salvage can be found in the graphics however, which are all you would expect to see from a current-gen third-person action game. Ascension City is attractively textured, lending weight to the social dissention which the game works so hard to project. This milieu, however, could certainly have been amplified via a superior score; its soundtrack is sound but nowhere near outstanding.

The gameplay offers some welcome delights. As Spencer’s skill lexicon incrementally expands throughout the game, you will find yourself becoming suitably equipped to exploit your environment in increasingly sophisticated ways. You’ll be able to grapple environmental objects such as cars and even enemies, as well as drop-kick opponents. Once acquired, a skill is always simple to comprehend thanks to a good in-game tutorial and challenge configuration. Abilities range from killing enemy types with particular weaponry to destroying enemies whilst you are in the air and executing increasingly lengthy wire swings using Spencer’s bionic arm.

And swinging is certainly experienced in abundance. The one truly outstanding feature of this game is its ability to make you feel like a heavily-armed bionic Tarzan exploiting a suburban jungle overrun with automated adversaries. Swinging is also by far the hardest mechanic to master, which makes it so much sweeter when you do. Executing an uninterrupted expedition from one side of the locale to another induces quite the gaming high. By forcing you to swing from structure to structure, Bionic Commando is very much designed to keep you in the air. Misjudging a swing and subsequently falling to the ground elicits much the same feeling as I expect a baby bird experiences when falling from its nest to the earth; it’s cold, lonely, and the only thing willing to fill your gullet is a trigger-happy Biomech with a laser gun. The game also nurtures a sense of freedom in the player, and the impressive scope of the gameworld does much to facilitate this.

Action is fast-paced and challenging. You are often forced to think off your feet whilst you keep yourself moving through the air, gliding between enemies and dodging sniper scopes. The spaced-out dispersion of checkpoints makes Bionic Commando particularly challenging. Some players will surely find this taxing because it’s often necessary to repeat large chunks of involved gameplay in order to successfully reach a save point. This is a game where a great sense of achievement is sharply followed by a great sense of loss and frustration, and vice versa.

Despite such features, Bionic Commando suffers from certain vacancies. Combat is a notably underdeveloped dimension; headshots to BioReign Grunts are stupidly easy and the odd Constructor Drone seems to enjoy remaining stationary and taking your advances up the rear access point. Conversely, some enemies can be unreasonably tough, firing at you relentlessly thus preventing sufficient time for you to escape their charge. Some player decision-making opportunities would not have gone amiss in this area. Whilst tackling a Shield Biomech I recall becoming excited at the prospect of encouraging a Sniper to unwittingly snipe the Biomech’s weak spot, located at its rear, by coaxing the Biomech to stand in the appropriate direction. Let’s just say this did not yield the desired result and leave it at that.

The multiplayer mode is a rather standard affair but enjoyable nonetheless. Deathmatch is a gratifying experience involving synchronized shooting and structure-scouring. This feature goes some way towards compensating for the unfulfilled potential of the single-player campaign.







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