Game: "Bionic Commando Rearmed"
System: Xbox 360
Published by: Capcom
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: Capcom is trying to revive the Bionic Commando franchise with a new game coming out in the near future. I'm reserving my judgment until I can actually play it, but at the same time, I don't see how they could make it much better than their 2.5D remake of the original.
BCR runs you through the events of the NES Bionic Commando with, among other things, a story that's fleshed out better than with just a handful of clumsily translated lines from nondescript talking heads. In keeping with the original, the developers also decided to stick with the US version of the story, wherein the bad guys are the Imperial “Badds” rather than the Nazis. Initially, I was disappointed with this decision to toss the censored story elements that Nintendo USA thought would offend our delicate sensibilities (who would ever believe that Nazis could be bad guys?), but the developers made the concept work, and then some.
They could've easily changed everything about the game and made some completely different that may have been alright, which has been the case for a lot of remakes. Instead, the developers set out to make this game totally old school, and let me tell you, this game is so old school it hurts! But it's the good kind of pain. Fans of the original game will recognize a lot of same architecture and level layout from Bionic Commando, albeit with a lot more detail. You'll even spot a few memorable icons from the NES game drawn onto the walls. Will the younger generation understand the significance of an 8-bit ball and chain drawn onto the background in the construction zone? I doubt it, but it's a great nod to those of us in the know.
The weapons are fairly similar, too, but they've been overhauled to be a bit more useful. For me, weapon collection in the original was over as soon as I got the rocket launcher. In BCR, however, each weapon has been designed to damage specific targets more than others (ballistic weapons for humans, beam weapons for robots, explosives for everyone). Plus, some of the newer/reimagined weapons have useful firing methods, such as the the vector cannon firing shots that bounce all over the screen, and the shotgun providing just enough kick to start you swinging even when you're hanging perfectly still.
For my money, though, one of the best parts of this remake is the boss fight. Each boss fight has been completely reworked from the original. The platoon of soldiers and the chirping “pi pi pi” robot remain, but the remaining encounters have been filled out with new bosses that fit in nicely with the general tone of the game. Even better, each battle begins with an oft comically self-aware exchange of words between the boss and our hero.
The game also includes some new multiplayer modes that let you battle each other or team up to tackle the game's campaign mode. The battle mode was entertaining, but I more fun with the co-op. You start out with your partner on the same screen, and the view pulls back as you move further apart. Once you reach a certain point, the view shifts to split screen, with each player left up to his own devices. It works really well, especially given that when one player dies, he respawns next to the other player (minus one life), and if at least one of you can reach a doorway, the other players will automatically be called in as well. At the same time, though, I didn't have much chance to play with co-op before my partner gave up completely.
And that's what I hear as the biggest complaint about this game: too difficult. I'll concede that the game does require some expert timing (especially during some of the downright diabolical challenge room scenarios), but I found it to be quite a bit easier than the original Bionic Commando. To begin with, the commando in question falls much slower than he used to, which makes aerial maneuvers far easier. Plus, you can do a few more useful maneuvers that would've been quite handy, had they been in the original. And you can see just how much easier it is because the levels are nearly identical to the ones in the NES game. I guess what I'm saying is that if you think Bionic Commando Reloaded is too hard, you should avoid Bionic Commando like the plague.
In case I haven't made this abundantly clear, I love this game. It's what every remake should be: an update to the graphic and gameplay elements that still manages to capture that same old school style that made the original game popular in the first place. Even the music is old school, with each of the original 8-bit songs remixed with guitar work and such. Hell, you can even find the occasional utterance of classic lines like “get the heck out of here, you nerd!” And people aren't playing this game because they think it's hard? Bah! Those people just plain suck. It's not even a matter of opinion, they are simply terrible people, and you would do well not to associate with them.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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