Bionic Commando - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Bionic Commando
PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Developer:
GRIN
Publisher: Capcom
Rated: "M" for Mature



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

Let’s talk about staying power shall we? While some games, like the Mario series find their niche and settle deep into our culture – others aren’t so lucky and are soon forgotten.  Then there are those titles that are deemed worthy of getting a second chance. Finally after a twenty-year absence – the Bionic Commando series has returned, but just how successful is it? Can Capcom return the series to its 8-bit glory or is the title better left as a memory?

Picking up ten years after the original game, the new Bionic Commando follows the story of Nathan “Rad” Spencer – the franchises original protagonist. Spencer has been imprisoned and sentenced to death as a result of an incident that has caused hatred of all bionic people.  At the last minute, he’s pulled back into service after a bio-terrorist organization attacks and all but wipes out Ascension City. Your task -- find out why the terrorists targeted Ascension City and stop it from happening again.

While the game’s poster boy may be Mr. Spencer, the real star is his bionic arm. Similar to the NES original, the bionic arm is what truly sets the title apart from other third-person action games. Thankfully though – the developers didn’t overuse the mechanic. You’re first instinct is to go whilly-nilly and use the appendage for everything, but you’ll soon find it’s not that easy and mastering the skill takes some practice. After some time you’ll be able to create quite the spectacular array of swings, jumps and tricks.

"...manages to find a stable balance between next-gen title and vintage throwback."

 
   

Don’t think that the arm is just for evading, it can be quite the weapon as well.  Throughout the game Spencer will go from mere bionic punches to a wide array of specialty moves including stealth attacks, zip kicks and even juggle maneuvers. While it may seem like a lot to digest, the beauty of Bionic Commando is just how naturally it progresses. Learning new skills and abilities fits perfectly in with the story (which in itself is paced quite nicely) and feels natural.  One of the most satisfying aspects of the title is figuring out just how many ways you can go about the game.

Amazingly – the game manages to find a stable balance between next-gen title and vintage throwback. In most aspects, the game looks amazing but somehow manages to feel old-school and retro. The save system in particular feels like it was lifted right out of an 8-bit title. Unsuccessful at a critical jump or battle? You’ll restart at the nearest checkpoint, but without any of the upgrades or weaponry you’ve picked up along the way.

Of course, we’ve come a long way since the 8-bit days of NES gaming. Bionic Commando is incredibly linear. Please note – I’m not putting the game down simply because it’s linear (in fact, it was a brave choice to not bring the game into an open world environment), I am however questioning how well thought-out the choice was though, as at times it seems to limit the game’s potential. Take for instance the title’s challenge system which rewards players for successfully completing certain tasks (or completing them in a certain manner). Most of these tasks must be completed at a specific point in the game, but since the game is so linear – you won’t be able to try again save for restarting or not saving. In this aspect, the game can be incredibly frustrating as you can feel like you’re missing a good portion of the experience.

"Much of Bionic Commando’s visuals are quite impressive..."

 
   

Much of Bionic Commando’s visuals are quite impressive, from the minor details to the well defined cityscapes, but there can be a noticeable dip in the game’s framerate once the action becomes heavy, but it’s questionable whether these instances are a technical issues or purposely done with game’s pacing in mind.  Purists may have some concerns with Spencer’s next-generation makeover, but it’s just a tank top and jeans, it’s not like the guy is sporting a cheesy spacesuit for his return. At least you can unlock the original attire through cheats.

Bionic Commando’s multiplayer aspects are pretty much what you’d expect from a title like this. It’s quick and easy to master but is quite shallow and lacks any depth at all.  If you had a chance to play the recently released multiplayer demo – you know what you’re getting. With the focus of so many games turning to the multiplayer side – it’s a wonder how the game’s suite can be so bad.

Bionic Commando could have been bad – really bad, but Capcom and GRIN have developed a flawed yet satisfying action title that manages to brave new ground while respecting where it came from. It’s no Gears of War or Halo, But Bionic Commando’s return is a welcome one, and an experience worth checking out.  

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Unlockables

Bionic Commando is a game that nods unapologetically back to an era where things were done differently – namely cheats. They weren’t something that was frowned upon or shied away from but sadly there’s not a whole lot of cheats available at this time.

The only cheats we could find are to change Spencer’s appearance in the game and while it’s a good choice to get the character back to his roots – there’s just deserves to be more. How about a cheat to unlock all weapons, upgrades and maneuvers? It just seems logical, and a very suspicious choice. It’s of this writer’s opinnion that more cheats will become available as more people experience the game.



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