When the opportunity arose to write up a Games for Under £5 article I jumped at the chance, personally I love a good root through the pre-owned section, it’s a great way to get a new gaming fix without parting with astronomical amounts of hard earned cash.
So I set about finding something a bit obscure in the pre-owned section and came out with Bionic Commando, the fact it was from Capcom giving me a bit more confidence than other titles that seemed to have a very low production cost.
Back of the Box
First they used him. Then they betrayed him. Now he’s their only hope.
Arm yourself with highly destructive weaponry.
Pummel and smash enemies & rip apart the landscape.
Unleash the power of the bionic arm.
Swing across landscapes & jump off skyscrapers.
Throw massive objects.
Rip it up in multiplayer and on-line challenges
About the Game
Bionic Commando is actually a sequel to the 1988 NES version of Bionic Commando, and its eventual remake, Bionic Commando Rearmed, which in turn holds strong links to Capcom’s 1985 release Commando.
The game follows the fate of Nathan “RAD” Spencer, who was one of the first soldiers to enter into a bionics program, which armed him with a bionic arm. These gave Spencer super human abilities, which he used to defeat a radical regime which threatened peace and stability.
After his successes TASC, the organisation that provided the bionics, found their program in high demand and increased production accordingly, as the first Bionic Commando Spencer trained these new recruits.
Operations involving bionically altered soldiers continued until Spencer found himself in a morally ambiguous situation, his old friend turned boss Joseph Gibson aka “Super Joe” asking him to perform an act he doesn’t agree with, as a result of this he is framed by his Government and put on trial, the reasons for this are revealed throughout gameplay but I don’t want to give too much away from the playable story.
On the back of this all TASC services are halted, public opinion sways against the bionic soldiers that saved them and this results in little sympathy from the courts for our hero, who is subsequently put to death.
This is where the game kicks off, while being marched to his execution Spencer is intercepted by Gibson and given an opportunity to save his own life, redeem himself, other TASC operatives and most importantly for Spencer find his wife, who we learn is missing.
In order to save himself Spencer must infiltrate and take down a terrorist organisation, known as BioRegion, who claim to be responsible for setting off an experimental weapon that causes a massive earthquake and nuclear radiation of the metropolitan Ascension City, this is significant as you must directly react and deal with the consequences of these attacks.
As the game progresses more is discovered about these terrorists and you must stop them in each of their plans, there are a few flashbacks and major plot twists along the way though so I’ve tried not to reveal too much as the plot line is a big part of the appeal of this game.
Personally I found this a bit of a strange game, it felt like something with great potential that never really fully delivered. There were times where it was engaging and started to get really enjoyable but it never really sustained this enjoyment.
Bionic Commando starts slowly, really, really slowly, after the first mission, which is simply dispatching of a few bad guys so you can reunite protagonist Nathan Spencer with his bionic arm, you get whisked out of the game into a simulated arena for a lengthy tutorial.
This tutorial feels a little unnecessary as it teaches you moves that you don’t unlock until later in the game, and when you do unlock them the game tells you how to do the moves anyway, this results in a frustrating way to begin the game and a complete disruption of gameplay between the simple first mission and the more advanced second, when you are armed with the bionic arm.
I use the word mission a bit lightly, there aren’t specific missions that you complete and get a run down or review at the end, rather the game is split into different load areas, you finish combating opponents or complete an objective in a specific area then you advance, wait for the next area to load and take on new enemies or a new objective. You continue through the game this way until you complete the larger objectives and unlock more of the storyline.
It might be for this reason that it’s hard to get any continuous enjoyment from this game as once you dispatch of a number of enemies, which is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game, you have to endure the more negative aspect of the game, travelling through Ascension City.
As I said earlier you must react and deal with the fall out of the terrorist attack on the city, the attack results in paths and roads being destroyed and nuclear radiation engulfing much of city, which you must avoid. The lack of roads results in you having to use the bionic arm as a grapple and swinging from low hanging pieces of the environment to get around.
This is the major aspect that lets the game down, the mechanics of swinging aren’t finely tuned enough and it feels very clunky in parts and the radiation aspect results in the feeling of being penned in.
The city could be a massive playground for the player to explore, traversing skyscrapers and swinging between them at will, however the game limits these opportunities by making the majority of skyscrapers inaccessible through the nuclear radiation which takes away a lot of freedom from the player.
One aspect of the game I did believe was quite intriguing was the challenges that ran alongside the main campaign. Throughout the game you are challenged to complete obscure objectives, gaining relevant rewards when you do, for example you unlock new attacks or increase strength when you complete a challenge relating to the amount of enemies you kill.
All in all the game really is a mixed bag, for me the good sides of combat and an engaging storyline were completely ruined by the more integral part of the game, environment exploration, which was difficult, frustrating and with very little reward.