Bionic Commando PlayStation 3
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: GRIN
Bionic Commando Rearmed proved to be an excellent remake of Bionic Commando and it surely must have whetted the appetite for a completely new game in the series. This completely new Bionic Commando is a sequel to the original Bionic Commando that first appeared on the NES back in 1988. You'll play as Nathan Spencer, a Bionic Commando, who begins the game on death row. Mechanically enhanced soldiers were once seen as heroes but things have changed and Nathan finds himself being labelled as a murderer for killing the people he was ordered to kill. He's not on death row for long however, as he earns a reprieve and is asked to sort out some pro-bionic terrorists who have attacked Ascension City. He even has his bionic arm returned to him and it's this arm that makes the game interesting. This is just as well because the game's storyline is pretty much nondescript.
The bionic arm is what helps to differentiate Bionic Commando from other action games and it not only helps Nathan to traverse the game world rather quickly, but it can also be used as a very effective weapon. It's most basic use is as a grappling hook which will help Nathan to swing through the battle-ravaged environments. Swinging around the place is quite tricky to begin with. Even with a fair bit of practice it's still possible to come a cropper if you're slightly off with your timing. Nathan can also use his bionic arm to great effect during the game's battles. You can latch onto enemies and thrust towards them for a powerful attack. You can also pick up a variety of large objects and hurl them at enemies which certainly makes for a lot of fun. Nathan does have a variety of weapons to choose from during the course of the game but most of them just don't feel that satisfying which is disappointing. You'll also find that most enemies seem to need far too many shots to be finished off which is irritating.
At times Bionic Commando can be quite enjoyable and it's undeniable that it's quite satisfying to master swinging around and launching attacks with the bionic arm. The real problem is that there are numerous points in the game when it all goes decidedly flat and even becomes frustrating on occasions. The game doesn't get off to a great start because you don't have access to the bionic arm and once you do find it you're subjected to a tedious tutorial before the game really gets going. The inclusion of a variety of challenges (such as killing a specific number of enemies or manoeuvres) does spice things up a little however and you can obtain some decent bonuses by completing them. Some of the battles in the game are very enjoyable but there aren't enough of them. Whilst you are given the illusion of being able to roam around Ascension City at will, you can't. The game uses environmental hazards, such as radiation and water, to keep you from wandering off course. Wandering off course can prove to be fatal and you can meet with a virtually instant death all too easy at times which really does help to make the game much more frustrating that it needs to be.
The game does offers a multiplayer experience, for both LAN and PlayStation Network play, supporting up to ten players and offering three game types: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. The multiplayer maps are actually quite well designed but the modes aren't anything special and it's doubtful that anyone other than diehard Bionic Commando fans will revisit the multiplayer mode much.
Visually the game is actually quite impressive. The battle-ravaged Ascension City looks good and really adds to the game's ambiance. The character models and their animations game look good too. The frame rate seems mostly fine, even when there's a fair amount of action on-screen. The load times are acceptable thanks to an almost 2GB installation when you first play the game (the 60GB HDD in my PS3 sure is looking insufficient these days).
Bionic Commando is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. That's not to say the game isn't without its problems for deaf gamers however. The games cutscenes are subtitled but there are no character portraits or names to accompany the text and it's not always possible to understand who is saying what. The size of the text seems small on a HDTV (I didn't play the game on a standard TV so I can't comment if it's too small in all cases) which might be a problem for some. Comments made by some of the enemies you'll encounter are not subtitled. The comments that Nathan makes outside of the cutscenes, which are not of great importance, aren't subtitled either which is disappointing. At least the game's tutorial messages are shown in text. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time. You're also notified in text of any challenges you receive and again these can be recalled at any time if you're unsure of what challenges you've been given. In short it's not a bad experience for deaf gamers but it could have been a lot better.
The excellent Bionic Commando Rearmed was successful at not only rekindling the enthusiasm of longstanding fans of the franchise but also in introducing newcomers to the series and making them interested in future Bionic Commando titles. It could be argued however, that by comparison, this Bionic Commando sequel just isn't as appealing and lacks that level of excellence that Rearmed had. That's not to say it doesn't have its moments because it does and it's a game that Bionic Commando fans will enjoy. If you're yet to experience a Bionic Commando game however, you're definitely better off checking out Bionic Commando Rearmed before giving this a whirl.