Binary Domain Review
Posted April 8, 2012 by Jallen (189)
Binary Domain is a third-person-cover-shooter from Sega’s newly formed studio “Ryu ga Gotoku Studio” or “Yakuza Studio” depending on who you ask. Notably Sega’s second attempt (After Platinum Games’ ‘Vanquish’) to cash in on the chest high wall shooter genre; which have been so popular in the West. The game feels oddly reminiscent of Vanquish too. Only in a in a superficial way, there is no rocketing around the game like a power sliding rockstar. The main character looks a bit like Sam from Vanquish and the whole game sees you blowing up robots again, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Set in the year 2080 the world is partially flooded; destroying most of the old cities of the world, along with causing global famine and pestilence. The solution was to build grand cities on top of the old but with a greatly diminished workforce who would build such cities? Robots as it turns out, they were massed produced and now make up the bulk of all menial jobs. Thus making the rich richer and the poor poorer; as there is no unskilled labour to do, that can’t be done better by automated systems. In light of this massive robot insurgence the global governments set up the New Geneva Convention; focusing on what can and can’t be done when it comes to robots. Clause 21 for example bans the creation of robots that look like humans.
So you might expect somebody has broken clause 21; a robot turns up in the US that is visually indistinguishable from a human, more are discovered and they themselves believe that they’re human. The world governments decide that a Japanese company, Amada (which is a bit odd as they’re a real company), is behind this and send in an international task force to investigate. To make matters worse Japan doesn’t know about the Op, the government has reverted to isolationist ideals and there is a civil war taking place.
We control Dan, your typical American action hero as he and Bo “sneak” into Japan. Along the way we meet up with two Brits, a Chinese Sniper and a French squad. You choose which characters are in your team and each has their own personality and conversations. It surprised me, that no matter how cliché the events in the story may seem, I ended up liking two of the main characters. Sure I didn’t care about Bo or Dan but a few were interesting enough to make me invested in the story.
So this game is a third person shooter, based around cover and as you would expect; you spend your time running between cover shooting robots with a variety of different weapons. I’m pleased to say that the cover system works very well; you can easily dive into cover and unstick yourself from a wall just by moving backwards. You can pop out of cover by aiming or you can blindly fire from cover without aiming. If you’ve played any cover based shooter in the past 8 years you’ll know the drill.
It’s all pretty standard when it comes to weapons. There are a selection of machineguns, shotguns, sniper rifles and pistols. You can only carry three weapons; your main machinegun, a pistol with unlimited ammo and your secondary weapon of choice. Then there are grenades which come in a variety of favours too. There are also some special heavy weapons which you can pick up off downed enemies, these pack one hell of a punch but picking one up means you can’t take cover. Your main machinegun also has a powerful energy blast which can only be recharged by collecting energy dropped from robots. All guns work extremely well and the game’s aiming controls are perfect. I did find it hard to distinguish between which gun was which at times, however they all perform slightly differently if you play attention.
Your main machinegun is also upgradeable, along with all the guns of your teammates, via the ammo shops scattered throughout the game. This does make your default weapon a bit of a beast by the end; which adversely affects the other weapons in the game. The robots you face become stronger as you progress, so if you’ve upgraded it to the max then why would you want to use anything else? Along with weapons you can also upgrade yourself, and again squad mates, through the use of nanobot enhancements. These increase things like heath, speed of your regenerative health, your accuracy, how many health packs you can carry, etc. Each one takes up a set amount of space in a small 2×6 grid, so it’s a careful balancing act between which upgrades you choose.
Now for the enemies; I really like them! There are numerous robots you’ll be facing throughout the game; your standard bipedal cannon fodder, snipers, exploding moveable mines, little spider based robots, heavily armoured big robots, flying robots, charging armoured robots, monkey like robots and those robots that are the enemy that you can’t really hit as they dance around the arena stabbing you occasionally. You know the one. I wouldn’t say that they have a great AI but the sheer variety (which seems to oddly match up to all the different types of Locust in Gears of War) helps keep things interesting.
Of course these are mechanical creatures and they don’t behave the same way as enemies made from flesh and bone. When you shoot them their armour falls off revealing their frames and internal circuitry. It provides fantastic visual feedback and makes you feel that your bullets have an impact on the enemies. It’s a lot better than empting clip after clip into something and not noticing any difference until it falls over. Where you shoot them also affects how the enemies react. Shoot off their arm holding the weapon and they’ll switch to their other weapon or charge at you attacking with their feet. Shoot off their feet and they’ll crawl towards you or lay prone and shoot you. Shoot off their head and they won’t be able to tell friend from enemy and will actively fight on your side. In short the robots are a major plus to the game.
The game is broken up with sections that take us away from shooting over chest high walls. Like sliding down a massive dam, while avoiding pillars. Or taking the control of jet skis while escaping from pursuing forces. The controls in these sections are less than ideal but thankfully they’re short enough, that even if you do die and have to go back to the start, it won’t be too much of a setback.
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