Bionic Commando is the long awaited follow up to NES title of the same name. Once again players jump into the bionic boots of Nathan “Rad” Spencer to swing around via his bionic arm, play with guns and throw cars at a giant mechanical worm…
The story wrapping up the action goes that following the events of the original Bionic Commando cyborgs were tossed out like garbage, while Nathan was used as a scapegoat and sentenced to death for crimes he didn’t commit. Naturally the cybernetically-enhanced people were outraged by this and formed a terrorist group to fight back, detonating an experimental weapon, wiping out the population and destroying the city. Fortunately for Nathan, the attack was on the day of his execution so he gets out of jail to kill the terrorists.
Missions take place in and around Ascension City and for the sake of level linearity most of it – except for the places Nathan needs to go – is dangerously radiated by said experimental weapon. It’s also a good idea to stay out of the water as Nathan sinks like a rock. This is also the biggest point of frustration in this game as there are several portions where you have to swing across floating mine fields – miss a mine and you’re sunk.
Then you have to sit through a load screens which can last several seconds and make what should be a simple second or third attempt a big source of frustration. The second gripe is that these unavoidable load screens are far too common – every time you come to another check point you’re greeted by another one, breaking the flow of gameplay significantly. Fortunately, Grin has done an excellent job on the swinging controls and even indicates to you the perfect time to jump saving you a lot of unnecessary frustration. Holding down the trigger after you jump will cause you to grapple onto the closest target automatically as well.
The bionic arm can also be used as a weapon to throw an object/enemy (it’s easily the most useful limb in videogame history). Aside from the arm, Nathan has a decent selection of guns too, including his classic machine gun. On top of that Bionic Commando introduces new toys including rocket and grenade launchers – all of which are made available via pod drops throughout the game.
If you can look past these aforementioned frustrations, you’re in for some impressive environments ranging from the city park, down town areas to deep caves. Navigating them is the simple task of moving from way point to way point, and dispatching enemies along the way.
Although going from “point A, to point B” sounds repetitive, Nathan isn’t your usual silent tough guy – his character carries the game well. He’ll let out a yell when you take an impressive jump or swing. On top of that, he can take a jump from insane heights without dying – where most protagonists in recent memory would crumple. One minute you’ll be swinging through a cave, the next you’re throwing cars at people in a subway or jumping down a gorge.
Bionic Commando also sports some of the craziest boss battles in recent memory, including one against a giant robot worm in a parking lot. The other enemies range in size from swarms of robot insects, to generic soldiers, and armoured soldiers with a weak spot in their back. Some fights will even see you taking on up to three armoured soldiers with nothing but rocks to throw.
In the end the high difficulty will drive away casual gamers so trying the demo first is a must. But between the tough bosses and fast gameplay, this is a worthy successor to the NES original.