Saturday, 27 June 2009
Bionic Commando is a beguiling game. The ever present techno-vine arm promises a hurling super-freedom, enabling the player to bypass enemies and incident in a swinging bionic blur. Unfortunately this never quite materialises. Gameplay is distributed in bite-size chunks, heavily checkpointed and ruthlessly sectioned. Players are issued a succession of screens to clear, with areas partitioned off by progress barriers that require street-level combat, as well as lethal background radiation that prohibit off-path exploration. Although faithful to Bionic Commando's 8-Bit ancestor, it's a curious playground for a central skill-set that makes nose-bleed ascension and chasm leaping so accessible.
Still, it's a gorgeous path to tread - cityscapes bloated with watery ruin bleed into National Park superquarters, and fragile sky-cities. There's always something to grapple onto, and always enough meandering enemy staff to demonstrate your wealth of abilities on. Incremental challenges are issued throughout, calling attention to the variety of lethal interaction available, completion rewarded with console specific boast currency. Lead toy Nathan Spencer is an interesting sketch of a character too. Voiced by Faith No More's Mike Patton, Spencer's dialogue plays like a meta consumer's commentary, aggravated by game halt intrusion, and delighted when allowed to swing and pound.