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Sunday | September 23, 2018
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Bionic Commando (X360)

Bionic Commando (X360)


Bionic Commando was a classic twenty years ago as gamers took control of Rad Spencer, a soldier dropped behind enemy lines armed with nothing more than a pistol and his bionic arm. Developer GRIN have finally produced a true sequel after the ‘rearmed’ remake last year and today we find out if the game is a worthy release.

Bionic Commando takes place ten years after the original release and we once again take control of Rad Spencer, the unlikely hero. He has been imprisoned, stripped of his abilities and sentenced to death, however a terrorist group known as Bio-Reign blow up most of Ascension City and kill a large portion of the population. Spencer is once again called into duty by his commanding officer Super Joe and it is his job to find out why the attack happened and to exact revenge. The developers have attempted to connect the sequel with the original through various cut scenes although the quality of these cut scenes at times is rather dubious.

Since Spencer has been separated from his gear for many years his body has to recall all his attack moves which works as a nice introduction to the gamer. You can perform leaps and swings with the grappling reticule which changes to blue when Spencer can connect to a surface. A momentum indicator also highlights the best time to let go for maximum forward momentum.

Unfortunately, just like the NES version the difficulty level is pretty high because if you fall to your death (and trust me it happens regularly) then the game has a habit of putting you back to a previous checkpoint which can sometimes mean you lose equipment you collected a while ago. I found this very frustrating and while it is true to the original it is an unfortunate design decision from the developers.

This time around Spencer has more abilities and they are introduced during various checkpoints to keep the learning curve steady and easy to grasp. There are also button indicators which appear in the top right of the screen to reduce any possible confusion. The Bionic Arm allows Spencer to utilise light and heavy punches and he can also smash objects into the air and destroy damaged walls and enemy targets. In certain situations it can be helpful to keep noise to a minimum and you can perform silent attacks by locking the arm to the soldiers then zip kicking them in the chest. The arm is the most versatile weapon in the game and there are other options for flinging enemies into the air and thudding them into the ground … these attacks aren’t just limited to people because some of the environmental objects such as train cars can be grabbed and turned into weapons.

Other weapons include the standard pistol which Spencer uses to target enemies from a distance. The game offers other weapons such as grenades, however strangely enough you can’t just pick these up from fallen soldiers … your commanding officer Super Joe sends out drop pods from time to time with weapons inside. Rocket launchers, shotguns and rifles are open for grabs however the levels of ammunition the game gives you are very low which normally means you will have to revert to using your arm on a regular basis.

To provide an extra aspect to the combat the game throws challenges in your direction which can range from killing various soldiers with specific weapons to completing certain tasks. Completing these bonuses gives Spencer various upgrades such as better armor or bigger ammunition clips with various weapons.

The most important question to answer however is how the game plays and while I was suitably impressed with the new title there are some issues which lowered the experience for me. The game is very linear by nature and you can’t return to complete some objectives or to unlock some of the hidden collectibles you may have missed first time around. Making this more confusing is the fact that there is a level jump built into the menus however once you use it the game alerts you to state that no challenges or collectibles will be saved for anything accomplished in this mode. This is a silly design decision again from GRIN because you would have to replay the full game to access missed opportunities.

Multiplayer is catered for with Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag, for up to 8 people. I had an enjoyable experience online, but it certainly wasn’t exciting enough to hold my attention long term. 16 maps are supplied which gives reasonable enough variety.

Graphically, the game is quite impressive with a lot of attention to detail across the environments. Debris scatters the landscape and dust clouds swarm around the destroyed buildings and the fact that this debris can be used as weapons with the bionic arm is a nice touch. The framerate is steady, however from time to time there are some dips particularly when the action heats up. Thankfully this isn’t a regular problem as jumping from building to building and experiencing frame rate issues could mean the difference in timing the jump correctly or falling to your death.

Sadly in game advertising is abundant in certain parts and you will be subjected to ads from Nvidia and Alienware during your travels which is somewhat distracting.

On an audio level the game is very strong especially the voice of Spencer which is handled by Mike Patton from the band Faith No More … he was also responsible for voice overs in ‘The Darkness’. The soundtrack is a mixture of soft rock and classic NES music which does a responsible job of setting the tone for the battles and action.

Bionic Commando is a solid title from Capcom and GRIN which goes some way int introducing the classic game into the modern day. The game is fun and the graphics are impressive and if you can look past the linear game play then you will find something to enjoy from this release.


Good combat mechanic and an enjoyable experience.
Impressive attention to detail and the interactive environment is a nice touch.
Strong voice acting and the music is effective.
Re-playability is somewhat limited by the linear nature of the title.

A good trip down memory lane.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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