Bionic Commando PS3 Review

     With my current backlog of games I have been plowing through a stack of old games that I'd like to get through.  Some of them are great, and some are not so great.  Bionic Commando is definitely one of the not so great games.

     Capcom began with Developer Grin updating the old NES Bionic Commando for the modern era.  At first glance the game appears to have a lot going for it- decent graphics, a cliched but tolerable story, and a cool bionic arm that allows players to fulfill their Spider-Man dreams of swinging through a city.  What we got was unfortunately a muddled mess of a game.

     Back in the old NES days games were tough but playable.  I think they really focused on that aspect because pretty much anything can kill you here.  The most intolerable are the radiation zones.  If the bombed city you are progressing through has high radiation on one side of the street and on the other side of the street also contains said radiation as well, there's a damn good chance you should be roasted in the middle of the street as well.  What makes this even more problematic is the fact that about half the enemies can send you flying into these instant death zones- sending you in all probability to the last check point- which is often times the beginning of the level.  Extremely irritating.  And seriously- who puts a single level checkpoint 10 feet from the end of the level?!?
     Death also happens if you are in water.  The logic is if you fall in water, the bionics would pull you under and you'll drown.  That's a fair assumption, but when the character continually "drowns" in waist deep water it's absolutely infuriating.
     Then there's the combat.  It isn't too awful on its own.  What makes it bad, is the fact all enemies are far faster than you and they have perfect accuracy.  Snipers know exactly where you are in every level.  There is no way you can skirt them or stealthily sneak up and dispatch them.  Their rifles are always trained on you and their shot speed is far too fast.  The heavy enemies can only be damaged by a weak spot on their backs, but since they always keep their back away from you getting behind them is an issue made worse by the sluggish camera and motion control.
     Making matters even worse Grin thought it perfectly acceptable to throw in a multitude of enemies.  So instead of fighting a couple at a time, you often face 2-3 heavies while snipers take potshots at you and the the grunts and machine gunners unload into your body.  Unfair is the first thing that comes to mind.  There isn't a good balance here.  Especially when your weapon selection and choices are severely limited (mostly your handgun) because they want players to rely on the arm which is a very poor idea as the range is ultimately melee, leaving you exposed for all to shoot.

     Speaking of the arm controls, more often than not the swinging wouldn't open the reticle to grab or leave me slamming into invisible walls mid-swing.  The swinging isn't remotely fluid at all- there is a constant failure to find things that you can latch onto which inevitably leads to death and restarting at- you guessed it- the last checkpoint.  I also found a huge issue with grabbing objects.  Many times the color of the reticle would change while I was targeting a throwable object and the bionic arm would latch onto the ground under the object.  Not fun while you are being gunned down.
     Another thing to note is that sometimes I made it to the end of an area and had no idea how to proceed.  After a bit of frustration I broke down and looked it up.  Somehow I had missed, multiple times, groups of enemies that I needed to kill and they didn't spawn- necessitating the replay of the level again.

     When it comes to story Bionic Commando is some of the most cliched storytelling ever.  Nathan "Rad" Spencer was a soldier that got turned on by the government.  He got imprisoned and lost his lady.  He is needed so they secretly re-enlist him and in exchange he gets his arm back and information on his missing lady.

     What happened here is sad.  There isn't an open world that you may explore.  All the trailers and things I saw had me thinking it would be an open area to roam and play in, but alas it was not.  That was a huge mistake for this game.  Honestly- the best part of the game is some of the locations, they are stunning.  But the gorgeous vistas are not open- the result is the world they've placed you in is constricted.
     It is a shame really.  I think if Grin had more money and better designers, I think Bionic Commando might've done well really- as it stands it's merely a massively flawed and forgettable experience.  All the best sections were the non-combative ones where you could just roam around and look at stuff.  This is a game that you can judge by the last "Boss" encounter- relegated to the biggest cliche in a game comprised of cliches and topped off with a QTE.  Not even a real fight.  A QTE.  What an embarrassment.
     But then again, that's most of the game.

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