X360, PS3, PC
February 28th, 2012 NA
Who is humanity’s greatest enemy? The robots that have taken over the futuristic Tokyo or the humans themselves? Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator of the critically acclaimed Yakuza series, hopes to shed some light on that age old question. Fighting your way through the slums of old-Tokyo, to the upper levels, you will begin to question who the real monsters are.
Early in the 21st century, most of the world, experiencing global warming, had flooded. We lost almost everything, millions upon millions of lives were lost, and we had to rebuild all the major cities. This would prove to be a problem because most of the labourers were gone, or the work required to rebuild the cities was too dangerous for the ones that were left. So humanity turned to using robots for labour. Rebuilding the major cities is quite the task and this drove one company to the top of the pack with over 95% of the market share, Bergen. Bergen is an american robot development and manufacturing company and according to the prideful americans, paves the technological road for all the other companies.
It wasn’t always this way however. In Japan, Amada was years ahead of the curve before Bergen had stole their technology and put it to use in their own robots. Amada tried to sue but the timing was so perfect that Bergen had already struck it big and had the finances to back anything. Amada lost that case and disappeared becoming the biggest robotics producer in the east.
In 2040, the world's’ economic problems lead to the creation of the New Geneva Convention, a new set of international laws which deal with a number of things, one of the things being robotics. Clause 21 as it’s known in the convention, forbids the research and development of robots that could pass for humans. However in 2080, a lone robot brought everything crashing down when he attacked the Bergen headquarters. What was weird about this attack is that the robot had looked human, and thought it was human. The International Robotics Technology Association, or IRTA, had created squads specializing in the termination of any robots, and apprehension of anyone thought to be violating Clause 21. Known as “Rust Crews”, they are the best of the best, hand picked by the IRTA for their skills.
Suspecting that Amada is behind the robot that attacked Bergen, the IRTA has dispatched several rust crews from all nations, including a french robot, for a covert operation. The mission is discover any evidence linking Amada to the robot and to bring Amada himself in for questioning. You play as Dan Marshall, the stereotypical american leading the brigade. Funny, the lack of canadians in these sort of matters. You have been deployed with your partner and long time running sidekick, Big Bo. The first objective is to meet up with the other teams and make as little noise as possible in doing so.
Binary Domain is one of those games that surprises you. There’s so much to look at and quite frankly, most of it is stunning. Especially so with the bosses, and the small details that can be found around the environments. The best thing to see is how the robots armor shatters off of them, there’s sparks and metal flying everywhere. There’s even more when you blow that same robot's limbs off.
If you’re one of those people who enjoy that weird blend of techno that is a lot faster then normal, then you’re going to feel right at home with this title. It’s weird, because while I do enjoy that genre of music, I don’t like listening to the same thing forty million times over and over. What’s sadder about that is that I still can’t remember how the fighting music went.
There’s a large number of games that classify themselves as a cover shooter, much like Binary Domain does, however, I want to stress that Binary Domain is less of a cover shooter than it is a full out robot slaughterfest. They combine features of multiple games, but they ones they nail, are their own.
I mentioned earlier that you can shoot the limbs off the robots. Yeah, that’s probably the main reason I got hooked. It’s not that you’re just shooting the limbs off the enemy, it’s that you’re shooting the limb off a robot, and it is reacting to actually having that limb missing. Shoot one leg off and they will hop around on one leg, trying to chase you down. Shoot their gun arm off, they’ll pick it up and continue shooting with the other arm. This adds a significant amount of strategy to the gameplay and allows for some really cool scenarios. It’s fun until someone gets hurt and loses three limbs, then they’re just dead and not able to play anymore. Sadface. You can even decapitate the robots and cause their enemy tracking to malfunction and in doing so, shoot their allies. Fun.
You’re going to have to step up your game in order to take down these robots in this sort of fashion though. You can do so by stopping by one of the many conveniently located ammunition distribution systems that are setup all over Tokyo for some reason. At these shops you can purchase new guns, more ammo for those guns and a sort of performance enhancer for you and your teammates. These enhancers won’t make you unstoppable but they offer a nice set of passive bonuses like extra health and damage mitigation from bullets that can come in handy in those tight situations.
Another thing that you’re able to buy at these shops are upgrades for your team. These are even a little more subtle as they only affect the main weapon of the team member that you’re upgrading. Honestly, I don’t even think it’s worth it for the most part. I used it as a money dump for when I had far too many credits.
In most games, they seem to supplement the lack of variety in gameplay by adding a whole schwack of guns. This is not the case in Binary Domain. Binary Domain, sadly has very few guns, but what it does have is an incredible mix of gameplay that keeps you interested. It’s not all just running down corridors and blasting robots, although those segments are still fun.
Actually that’s my only gripe with the gameplay that I can think of, besides the character constantly telling you how to defeat the bosses. The lack of variety with the guns. They even have it to a point where you can only pick up one gun, your secondary. At all times, even if you don’t like the assault rifle, you have to carry it. This would’ve been cool if you could switch characters, but as it stands I think it prohibits you more then anything. Of course, they could claim that they did it to force you into thinking strategically, only picking up guns that would be effective against certain enemies.
One thing that Binary Domain tried to do that it actually completely failed at was the voice recognition they threw in. Using a headset you’re able to tell your teammates what you want them to do and with a library of about a hundred words, you can freely express how you feel. Where it fails though is when it picks up the sounds from the game as your voice and they start trying to reply to themselves, getting confused in the process. It’s funny for the first few hours, then it gets really annoying and requires an immediate shutdown. They say that the story is better told through the headset but I found that they were completely wrong in that statement. It’s better faster, stronger on the controller because you’re not sitting there for four minutes trying to get this thing to work just so Dan can say “No”.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that is going to make you want to come back to this game, unless of course you missed something in the story and in which case, level select! After finishing the nine or so hour story and possibly before, depending on what type of game you are, you can hop into multiplayer. That is of course if it wasn’t such a waste of time. The only matches that you can get into online are the free for all deathmatches, there is no one else online in any of the other game modes which really is a drag because some of those modes sounded pretty sweet, even if they were all the generic ones.
There’s a lot that Binary Domain did right, some things I feel that they did wrong, but in the end, it is a pretty solid game. There’s moments in the story that make you facepalm because it was so obvious, then there are others that are just dangerously cheesy. I thought there was a nice mix of everything gameplay wise. It must be hard to make shooting down a corridor fun, but they nailed it throwing destructible robots in front of your bullets, robots that make you think they’re listening to “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba night and day. The only things that really hurt this title seriously is the release date and the sub-sub-par multiplayer experience. I believe this is a title that all thumbs can enjoy for a reduced price, it is simple and fun enough for a newcomer, with a decent plot to back it up. Veterans, this game has robots, none of this zombie BS. Nuff said.