Reviews// Bionic Commando

If there are two opponents in a room and you dispatch one...

Posted 21 May 2009 16:33 by
After a little running, some dodging, and a bit of shooting, Nathan and his bionic arm are reunited, and then it turns out that attaching the arm is such a painful experience that it causes Nathan (Rad) to faint in a building full of heavily armed hostiles. Tactically, this plan has not been well thought through. Fortunately for buyers of the game, as well as for Nathan, he regains consciousness before one of the heavily armed hostiles puts a bullet in his head and summarily concludes matters, and the game.

Once Nathan and his bionic arm are up, connected and conscious, you are compelled to play a somewhat frustrating but reasonably comprehensive tutorial level, and than the real fun begins. Or it would, if this game really was fun. The thing is, although the game has all the right elements, they don't quite hang together in the right way.

Traversing the levels using the grappling-swinging mechanism is far from fluid and can be quite frustrating at times. When you do manage to hang a sequence of swings together, it is very rewarding and covers distance quickly - but the levels are not designed in a way that makes linking a large number of swings together easy. If you do, though, you'll quickly come upon your next waypoint.

Waypoints are shown on your HUD, and are visible through buildings, which can be confusing and occasionally frustrating. Some Waypoints activate when you are seemingly a long way from them, some require you to walk up to them with pinpoint accuracy. At least that's the way it seems, but this may just be an optical illusion caused by the ethereal floating quality of the Waypoints.

There are arbitrary pick-ups that don't seem to do much to collect, floating holographic type affairs, but these do not seem to contribute anything to the game, or be part of the storyline in any way. When collected they prompt a fanfare that is almost unbelievably eighties in style. Also, after winning in combat, Nathan often makes a declamation that is stereotypically dumb and macho - almost in homage to eighties action movies. The dumb audio is combined with equally average visuals. The world and characters are modelled well enough, but there's nothing in the way of dynamic lighting or shader effects to make it really stand out.

Ammo pick-ups in canisters with a glowing band around the top giving a clue to what kind of ammo is inside. These are randomly scattered around the level, rather than dropped by opponents, which would be more logical and more typical in a 3D game.

The AI is none too bright. If there are two opponents in a room and you dispatch one, the other often just stands there waiting for similar treatment rather than fleeing for cover or coming to surprise and attack you.

The game takes place in an open 3D environment, but the action is kept firmly on rails by a succession of waypoints that Nathan must travel to, which makes the game basically linear.
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