Bionic Commando

Bionic Commando

Put bluntly, Bionic Commando is a game revolving around the mechanics related to swinging around the landscape, and I would hold that one’s enjoyment of this game is very dependent on how fun one can find this and for how long. It looks fairly good and has some well-planned levels and a decent difficulty curve, but the mechanics revolving around the bionic arm seems to have been central to everything and the thing most of the work was put into. As it turns out, this was enough to make a good game.

While not very varied, the thrill of swinging around the landscape and the fluidity of using an array of different attacks to dispatch enemies is a really pleasant experience which was lucky because while Bionic Commando was developed by Grin, it feels very much like a Capcom game – traditional and unforgiving. Savepoints are sparse and reckless movement of the kind the game encourages often ends in immediate death, but I usually didn’t mind that much as you were allowed a lot of freedom in tackling the obstacles meaning you could just play it in a different manner if you hit a wall or got bored.

Which is also the big weakness of the game, the only real variation you are offered is the one you create for yourself. Sure, the levels look different but – with a few notable exceptions – play essentially the same, which is an easy pit to fall into when making a game about a superhero. If you gimp the superpower it may turn gimmick-y and worthless, but if you make it too powerful – like BC – it makes the player near-invincible and her biggest enemies are her own mistakes and whatever cheap tricks you use, instead of interesting level design or clever enemies. In a sense, Bionic Commando feels like a sandbox game with levels, but without the freedom that comes with sandbox games or the interesting areas to explore you can grow tired of it pretty quickly.

Another thing that Grin seems to have gotten from Capcom is the very cheesy story and narrative. No surprises there, really, but maybe it is the commercially-minded part of me growing too big but the dialogue is very littered with swearing for a game that is otherwise pretty clean – I never understand what people hope to achieve with this. There is certainly a place for obscenities in great art, but sprinkling a juvenile story with them does not make it more adult.

Bionic Commando is a little too long to be enjoyable all the way through, but it is good fun for awhile. I heard it didn’t sell very well, and it would really be a shame if this means we won’t see any sequels – there is more to be done with the Bionic Arm, and Grin has demonstrated that they are capable of making levels with alternative gameplay – they just need to either ramp that up or make a real sandbox game.

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Posted on Jun 29/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »