PLATFORM: Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, PC
DOWNLOAD IT FOR: 800 Points/ $10
ESRB RATING: M (For that infamous scene!)
It doesn’t hurt that the original Bionic Commando was one of the best games of its generation, but no joke, this is probably the best remake of a video game ever made. Capcom hasn’t exactly been known as a company who would slack when it comes to redoing their more popular franchises, of course. Just check out the thousands of versions of Resident Evil 1 that have been released for everything from the Nintendo DS to the Vic 20. When downloadable titles hit with this generation of consoles the big C got a few companies cracking on releasing updates to everything from Street Fighter to 1942. But it’s safe to say that Bionic Commando Rearmed was its most ambitious, and risky. Not just a simple graphical uplift like some other classic titles on the downloadable services, this was a complete
overhaul, combining new weapons, enemies, graphics and music into one goddamn fantastic goulash. Gamers on the internet are notoriously pessimistic when it comes to remakes of classic games, but you’d be hard pressed to find any fan of the original game that didn’t think this looked fantastic from the first trailer.
We knew it’d be great right from that moment we saw it, and it turns out, we were right.
“Forget a remake, let’s completely retool this bitch!”
First of all, for the young and the uninitiated, it must be said. Take a deep breath, here it is:
There is no jump button.
Stop hyperventilating, it’ll be ok. I know this must be horrible news for you to take, but that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it’s always been. It’s hysterical to read comments like this all over the internet when you’ve lived through the same complaints all those years ago. The game doesn’t need a jump button, it has a mechanical arm, dammit. Use the sucker!
Course, that’s not all you get. You’ve also got quite the supply of weapons and grenades that’ll be useful in all sorts of situations. You’ll grab up everything from a rocket launcher to a laser that bounces off walls diagonally to a shotgun that’s incredibly handy at getting your momentum going again when you get stuck under a platform. To encourage players to stop cheesing with the rocket launcher they went and made it a little erratic and made it cause some pretty bad splash damage. It was a pretty smart idea, as you’ll find yourself swapping through the weapons frequently to grab the one that best fits the situations.
But the arm is really key to everything. It’s a platforming game, but one that’ll have you swinging through like Tarzan (yell optional) to get everywhere. It will take hours of practice to really get the hang of the arm, even for the few of you who’ve beaten the original. There’s some new swing mechanics in place and it’s pitch perfect, allowing experts to swing through the levels like it was nothing. No other game controls like this one, and it’s indescribably cool when you hit thatperfect run.
It’s a good thing it controls well, because the game’s super difficult, just like it should be. It’s the kind of difficulty that Ninja Gaiden brought back, the kind that you see so rarely these days that makes you feel like it’s your fault. Even so, it’s still much easier than the original game. Gamers these days, we’ve turned into a race of wusses with our infinite continues and whatnot.
Yes, even if you lose all your lives this time you’ll just be kicked back to the level selection map. There’s also a life bar in place to make sure you can take more hits from your enemies, of which there seems to be a lot fewer. Even the last stage here (the only outright new one, which is long and intricate and incredibly difficult) is easier than hitting and killing the cheap final boss was in the original game. But in all fairness, the original game was positively brutal, to the point of utter frustration, and this is actually an improvement.
To change up the standard left to right platforming gameplay there’s also some top-down sections that you’ll be sucked into from the map where you have to take out an antiair gun that’s threatening your helicopter. These sections soon get stale (especially since there’s really only one map, dressed up differently) but are infrequent enough. Unfortunately,
and weirdly, it’s a bit of a bitch on the map screen to point in the direction you want to go. This will lead to you having to get into land fights more often than you’d like to… but it’s still a minor gripe. There’s also new hacking minigames that are fun enough, that allow you to listen into the enemies’ conversations and find some tips on the bosses.
Oh, the bosses! They’ve all been revamped to take advantage of your new skills with the bionic arm, and are a whole lot more satisfying to destroy. They’ll even engage in some pretty witty banter with you before being taken down.
This is the kind of side scroller you wish was made more often. This is the kind of game you wish would get a sequel done in the same style. (hint, hint)
This is one damn good looking game- you’ll see why it’s the largest downloadable game on the 360. The graphics are
pretty stunning, the animations fluid and responsive and best of all, you can see it even when it’s tiny! Too many games make the mistake of forgetting good animation just because the character’s small on the screen, but here it looks good no matter what. Especially when your enemies slump in realistic death animations and fall off the board. The fancy lighting and particle effects all over the place don’t hurt, either.
Fans of the original better hope that they’ve retained most of their hearing. The effects are all perfect (and film buffs will get a kick out of the Wilhelm scream that the enemies let out every once in a while) but the music, the music’s where
See, I never buy video game soundtracks. Never. Sure, you might catch me grooving out to the Black Mages here and there, and the thought of buying video game music doesn’t make sense to me, with few exceptions. That said, from the first time I heard the remixed main theme of Bionic Commando I knew this had to be mine. It’s one of the best video game soundtracks of this or any generation, and that ain’t hyperbole. The perfect remixes of classic tunes, they’re absolutely incredibly, pumping video game music- stuff that I listen to outside of playing games. And I don’t even
really like techno!
Tremendous, tremendous job from Grin here, and makes me that much more excited for what they’re doing with the upcoming sequel.
First of all, this ain’t a game you can just breeze through. It’ll take you a very good number of hours (at least 10) just to beat it in the first place. There are 4 difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, Hard, and an unlockable Extra Hard) to test your skill. The best part about the game is that it encourages exploration. Every level has at least two secret items to find, one of which will usually be a weapon or upgrade. It’s smart to search every section of a level because these are
important upgrades that will really help you in you quest. You’ll also be able to find two secrets that will unlock content for the upcoming Bionic Commando game.
Throughout the game you can unlock Challenge Levels that are playable either right then, or later on in the main menu. Somewhat reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid‘s VR Missions; you control a wireframe commando and try to get past incredibly hard puzzles- all involving clever usage of your bionic arm. It’s here that will separate the men from the boys, as you start to realize just how much better they’ve made the controls. Good luck beating some of the later challenges….
Then there’s the multiplayer. Putting the bitching aside, there’s no online multiplayer. This is a one console affair. (Sorry, those of you with no real friends.) It does suck, but grab a friend or 3 and you’re in for some truly fun
deathmatches. You’ve got a good selection of levels and modes to choose from, and it gets fast and frantic with everyone swinging around shooting at each other. One of the best modes you can only kill your enemies by knocking them off the screen, which results in a lot of insane maneuvering.
There’s also a co-op mode that invites all kinds of new strategies to the campaign. It plays really well, and even
does the smart Toe Jam and Earl thing of splitting the screen in half when you too far apart from your
teammate. This mode will have you playing through the campaign again another couple of times, there’s no doubt about it.
A must-have for any Bionic Commando fan. If I were a cornier writer I’d have just written something like “Bionic Commando Rearmed will hook you in!” but we all know that’d never happen.This is how you do a remake, by taking what made the first game work and adding to the areas that needed improvement. It seems so simple but most developers can’t ever recapture the feeling of the original game and instead make a mess of things. Grin is a much smarter developer than that. In a year that’s been packed with Triple A Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network titles, this might be the best one yet.