21 years after the arrival of the first Bionic Commando on the NES, Capcom now smears a completely modernised successor on our bread. Can this remake compete with what we got to play back in the days or is it yet another lame mashup of a retro game?
The new Bionic Commando continues where the old one stopped. You take on the role of Nathan “RAD” Spencer who after failing one of his missions got trapped by his own government, landed behind bars and got robbed of his bionic arm. After having spent ten years in jail, rotting in a room not bigger than the average student dorm, the government decides to release Spencer and give him the chance to clear his name.
BioReign, a terrorist organisation, has detonated an experimental weapon in Ascension City with an earthquake and a huge radioactive pollution as result. Now they’re looking for another weapon of mass destruction and the government wants to avoid them getting their hands on it at all cost. That’s where they need you for, Spencer needs to get the second weapon before the terrorists.
At first he’s not really looking to cooperate but when the authorities claim to have information about Spencer’s wife (who’s disappeared) he quickly turns and decides to help. At first the storyline offers little depth and there’s almost no room to immerse yourself in the agony of the main character but as you progress this part clearly improves.
The story and the protagonist aren’t the only references to the ancient Bionic Commando from 1988. The government agent Joseph Gibson, better know as Super Joe to the older gamers amongst us (the character you needed to save in the first game) constantly has your side and has the lead over your mission. Another character, Gottfried Groeder, we know as the enemy we got to kill 21 years ago and now seems to have risen from the dead.
The gameplay was build around the bionic arm that Spencer got as replacement for his earlier shot to pieces left, human, bodypart. This mechanical toy offers tons of possibilities starting with the true Tarzan-style slinging through the world (including the unnecessary shouting), clearing obstacles and pulverising everything that looks a bit like opposition. Unfortunately the transport possibilities of the arm aren’t used fully in my opinion and this mostly due to the build of the gameworld. Instead of giving the player an open world where he can go where he wants, the game was divided into smaller levels that piece by piece are fenced with so-called radioactive clouds that immediately kill you when go get near to them. There’s no other choice than to follow the path from beginning to end. Using the arm during combat, on the other hand, is done very well. You can for instance launch a soldier into the air, shoot him there with one of the six weapons you find back in the world and catapult him afterwards on another batch of hoodlums. Another possibility is to use the arm as a whip to kick ass.
Bionic Commando also got a limited multiplayer for two to eight players where you find back the classic Capture the Flag and Deathmatch modes. The arm possibilities are a bit more limited here compared to the single player but don’t fear: slinging is still possible! This title has everything necessary to be played as an extremely fast multiplayer game but in my feeling it didn’t really manage to use all of its potential.
Graphically we can talk about a decent presentation. Except for some glitches here and there and lack of details in the surroundings there’s little negative to be said. The effects, characters and weapons also look very nice. Another things that’s completely well-done are the dialogues that are filled with easter eggs. I won’t spill the beans about this but one tip is to die at least once when you’re fighting the giant worm and then to listen very carefully to what Gibson has to say. I guarantee a LOL-moment.
Bionic Commando certainly isn’t a bad game but also not the best I’ve ever seen. The biggest cause of that is the lack of freedom you get while moving through the world. An “open world” would have certainly been in its place here and would have made everything more pleasant and less linear. All in all a decent game that I can suggest to anyone as a fun snack.