Off the Cuff: Bionic Commando

October 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

Off the Cuff is a new segment I’ve dedicated to in depth (and hasty!) critical analysis of anything I’m interested in. Essentially, it’s just like my Impressions posts but, hopefully, more focused and more definitive. These are to serve as micro-reviews in space of my full length features, and they are written almost immediately, with little editing or drafting. It’s probably not the best way of writing a review of… well, pretty much anything, but I don’t have that much time at the moment and sometimes I just want to express an opinion, to get it out there as fast as possible. At least this way I get to write more regularly.

I’ve really been up to so much it’s difficult to know where to start. I finished Bionic Commando in a matter of a couple of days, and it’s okay. The gameplay and swinging mechanic generally work well, which is good since it’s pretty much essential to what a Bionic Commando game should be.

There’s also a lot holding the game back. Surprisingly, one of those things is how quite charmless it is, especially in light of Rearmed. The tone is that grungy, faux-mature aesthetic that isn’t ridiculous enough to laugh at, so it just ends up appearing as ugly. There are also a couple of gameplay contrivances, one being invisible barriers, preventing you from exploring too much, in the form “radiation” zones– problem is, if you wonder too far out too fast you end up dead, again, and again, and again. The story and everything about it is also just total balls, and the characters are ALL unappealing, each and everyone unreservedly taking the opportunity to throw out some very crap dialogue.

One of the things they did get right, though, is the music, which sounds awesome. And the game is fun, when you aren’t falling to your death over and over. The in-game challenges that also double up as achievements are a very cool way of getting the player to experiment with their arsenal of moves and weapons, and it’s really very compelling. The graphics are also impressive, as are the set-pieces.

Still, it’s way too short, and, once again, GRIN have made a game that shows potential and a general understanding of what makes gameplay work, but it’s still too rough around the edges and short (did I already mention that?) for it to be worth anything over ten pounds. Nevertheless, a weekend rent is definitely the best bet here.


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