A muscle bound action hero with dreadlocks and a giant mechanical arm swinging from building to building like Spiderman? What’s not to love.
Those of us that have been playing video games since the days of the Atari, remember Bionic Commando fondly. It was an arcade smash hit and hugely popular on home consoles like the NES. Like many platformers of the day, it was hard but hugely enjoyable and addictive. Flash forward to 2009 and Capcom has developed a next generation Commando. Is it as good as the original? No. However, it’s actually quite a fun game and considering how difficult it would be bringing it into the 3D realm, it does a great job.
The game is set 10 years after the original with the titular character on death row after being turned on by society and seemed “too dangerous”. However, saved at the zero hour he is recalled into action to defeat a terrorist threat. The plot is fairly humdrum and predictable and the voice acting and script is fairly laughable at times. It’s a shame but it doesn’t detract from how enjoyable the game is.
First and foremost, this is a game about swinging around and beating up baddies. In that respect, it is hugely successful. The swing mechanics are frustrating when you first start out but once you get used to it, propelling yourself through the level is not only rather fluid but a heap of fun as well. The mechanical arm isn’t just a high-tech version of Spidey webs though. It can also be used for combat purposes and for picking up and throwing objects or enemies.
In fact, even though there are a bevy of guns available to use, most of the time you will find yourself preferring the arm since it is more effective. The guns in the game feel a little weak on the whole. Sometimes, you will have no choice but to use them or you will get overwhelmed quickly and, at times, you are given weapons at just the right time to get through a level. The issue though is that while you may get an awesome sniper rifle, you run out of ammo on it real quick and there generally isn’t any refills lying around so you can keep using it.
The level design is quite impressive and the environments are beautifully rendered. The city feels organic, with a logical progression through the zones. There are a heap of places to swing from and the HUD does an excellent job of letting you know where to swing in order to stay alive. There are levels that are flooded, so one slip up and you will find yourself drowning. This can get a little frustrating when you drown in waste deep water but if you time your swings right, it isn’t an issue. The world has the appearance of being an open environment but there are limitations to where you can go. Many parts of the city, instead of having invisible walls, are filled with radiation and stepping into them for too long will quickly kill you.
There are some buggy animations here and there, particular when it comes to enemies being held in your mechanical arm but for the most part the animations are excellent, especially on the main character.
Bionic commando also has a multiplayer element as well. The usual modes are represented and the arm mechanics are far more simplified than in the single player campaign. However, swinging around the map during a capture the flag match is a whole lot of fun. It is an interesting take on the tired shooter games that are out there but whether it has lasting appeal is questionable.
Bionic Commando isn’t the best game ever made but it is faithful to the original material and is quite a lot of fun to play. It’s single player campaign is around 10 hours long but there is many collectables to find so the dedicated player could stretch that time out considerably. The acting and plot could have been much better but they are still enjoyable, even only to be laughing at how silly it can all be. If you are looking for a fun action game that is a little unique but also quite easy to play, this is definitely one to check out.