Bionic Commando Rearmed Review
The original Bionic Commando was released in 1988 for the NES(Nintendo Entertainment System) and has been hailed as one of the greatest games of all time. Rearmed takes the original game and upgrades it for the modern day.
The plot of Bionic Commando: Rearmed is that the FSA’s best soldier, Super Joe was sent to infiltrate an enemy force named the Imperialists. The leader of the imperialists have stolen plans from an old regime that contain a weapons project called Albatross. Super Joe is captured by the imperialists so the FSA send in Nathan “Radd” Spencer, the Bionic Commando to go into enemy territory and rescue Joe. The story isn’t all that complex especially with certain things changed for political correctness and all that, but it works. There is some basic amusing humor within some of the story and reading some dialogue can pay off in big ways.
Bionic Commando both excels and fails in the gameplay department. There aren’t many quarks i have with the gameplay but the few there are can be frustrating at times. I’ll start with the good stuff before I give some death blows. The main aspect of the gameplay in Bionic Commando is Nathan’s Bionic Arm(Thus the name). The game lacks a jump button which is initially very strange and foreign since 99.9% of platformers(with the exception of bionic commando) can jump. What makes up for/the point of no jumping is the bionic arm. The arm allows Nathan to grapple certain objects to bring himself up or to swing himself across gaps and areas. For the most part the swinging/grappling works well but there are instances where your arm will do something u didn’t want to. For instance in Area 3 there’s a part before the boss that has you swinging across spikes. The problem is that instead of swinging sometimes I would propel up towards the wall causing me to be stranded with no way to get off without dying.
Which leads me into another annoyance, the spikes. You see unlike most 2D platformers with spikes, spikes aren’t 1 hit kills, which should help with the frustration but they might as well should be! You see after hitting the spikes you are thrown back and take massive damage but you can use your atm to grapple something. Problem is that the chances of you actually grappling something that you can use to swing away is about 100000000000 to 1. This creates numerous instances where spikes will be permanent death traps no matter how much you try to grapple away in desperation. To make things a bit more difficult is the default control scheme is sort of counter intuitive. With modern day games the standard is typically, X jump, Circle shoot/grenades and Square reload and etc etc. The basic controls switches these around so if your used to modern day platformers I suggest switching to Control Type C.
After semi mastering the controls and the way of the Bionic Arm(aka the way of the samurai :P) Bionic Commando: Rearmed becomes one of the most fun platforming experiences I’ve had in awhile. The game has a clever system of motivation. Not only do you receive a rank with online leader boards(More on that later) but every time you complete a level you will gain a new ability, whether it is a weapon, armor, or arm ability. It allows there to always be a award for every level. Aside from the motivation of the award system there are the bosses within the game. The bosses are well done and put together but suffer from the Stardust bosses syndrome. They make good bosses but repeat them and take away the uniqueness they once had. Of course there are differences between each incarnation but its basically the same fight.
The levels are split into numbers and are scattered throughout a map. The numbers of the levels do not matter because there is no way you can possible do them in order, it is literally impossible. Players travel around the map going in one direction at a time and only certain levels are connect to others by certain paths. There are some paths that will allow you to skip over a level and do another one first which can allow you to pick up another weapon or equipment that can help you in the level you skipped. It pays off to experiment a little and try different levels in different orders to see which is the easiest. Also traveling around the map are enemies. If you and an enemy contact each other you will enter a new top down shooter to clear them out so you can precede. This part of the game works well, but not good, however they tend to be very short and do give players easy lives(I forgot to mention the game uses lives and after dieing 3(Default) you will leave the level and will have to start over). Within each level are communication terminals that allow you to communicate FSA HQ to get Intel and some story details. You can also hack the terminal with a hacking mini game to get information from the imperialists. These mini games are pretty simple but when you first see one you will probably be pretty confused on what your supposed to do but once you figure it out it becomes ridiculously easy.
Outside of the game there are a number of features that the game supports. For the ps3 it has remote play functionality as well as a special challenge room challenge(it will receive a patch for Trophies in the future). The game also sports a database feature that will give players information on various things throughout the game, a medal system as well as online leaderboards. As i mentioned earlier the game sports challenge rooms. These rooms can be found throughout the game and act as mini levels. The rooms will have you try for a specific goal with you trying to complete it within the minimal amount of time as possible. There are over 50 of these rooms to find and they can be very challenging(fits the name doesn’t it?). The game also support a 4 player multiplayer and a 2 player co op, both offline unfortunately.
As for remote play it works as well as you’d expect for a remote play enabled game. It runs reasonably well with some lagg but its nothing that kills the game. The preferred way is of course on the Ps3 but the option is always good for when your not at home, at a wifi spot and want to play.
The game sports an impressive look for a downloadable game filled with shadows shades and colors. But where the game shines is in its soundtrack that only gets better as the game goes on. Its a throwback to the old NES tunes with a modern techno touch that really works well, no one should be disappointed with the music.
Despite my frustration with a few aspects of the gameplay Bionic Commando is a great package. Once mastered it’s extremely enjoyable and one of the best downloadable games around. Be warned though the controls do need a bit getting used to and there may be times you will get frustrated, but persevere and you will have a great time.