Good god, do I love the new Bionic Commando. I love it because it has introduced me to a childhood dream that I never knew about. Sure, I wanted to be Spider-Man, and I also wanted to be a master assassin, but I never had the balls to dream of being both. And that’s what Bionic Commando is:
Spider-Man with guns.
The mechanics and fluidity of the swinging are executed simply but masterfully, such that you’ll be swinging adequately from early on, but that mastering said ability – turning sharp corners in graceful arcs as opposed to swinging out from a corner, realizing that the yawning abyss hungers below you, and then desperately grappling at anything in the general direction of ground – is quite difficult. The scale of their one available demo level for multiplayer demo works perfectly for the setup too. It’s not terribly wide, but it is fairly tall and, more importantly, it is multi-tiered. Swinging from level to level on the move is absolutely necessary, as camping will get you killed rather quickly when any player can monkey up that tree with the same ease which got you there in the first place.
The mechanics never feel too separated from the fighting either; it’s not just a gimmick added to a shooter game, but rather an agile platformer interlaced with frantic violence. This makes for some pretty hilarious multiplayer moments, and that’s why I believe it’ll be a great finished product. When you have awesome anecdotes gleaned from five minute sessions in a one level demo, the final package will likely end up worth putting some time into (hopefully.) I had this same feeling with GTA IV early on, before all the online glitches and weak third act killed it for me. An example of some Bionic Commando epic moments:
I was sniping from the highest point in the map, squatting awkwardly on top of a radio antenna, when I saw somebody coming for me. They had gotten too close already to pick off with the unwieldy rifle, so I had to run. I leapt from the radar dish, angled myself just perfectly, and free fell all the way down to the second-lowest level. I could actually briefly register that sinking feeling in my gut, like crest a hill in a car going a bit too fast. At the last minute I grappled a running beam, arced myself around the corner and rolled onto the shotgun upgrade. I turned around, feeling like James Bond, ready for this amazing action sequence to play out in my favor – expecting that spinning around and decimating my attacker was the only logical conclusion to my preceding ballet of badass – only to fall dead a second later. He had sniped me. Right from my old spot.
I suck at the grenade launcher. I just can’t seem to get its trajectory down well enough to make any real use of it, but I spawned in front of it, so I reluctantly grabbed it and headed out. I was swinging up toward the sniper rifle when I saw two people fighting to the right of me on the very edge of the map. I grabbed a girder to my left, (building momentum for the straight-on arc back to my right,) and I swung in at them fast. Just as I let go of the grapple and became airborne, I lobbed a grenade right where I was about to land and watched as they were blown off into the distance, too far out to ever make it back. It matters little that I overshot the jump myself, and that all three of us plummeted to our deaths like the weaponized Three Stooges; for one split second there, I was Spider Bond. And god damn is that a beautiful feeling.
There are some iffy things, however, that I hope are addressed in the final version. The weapon selection is too vanilla, for one: Pistol, machine gun, shotgun, sniper rifle, and grenade launcher. Even Goldeneye had better variety. They have such an interesting mechanic/level setup here; I’d love to see suitably unique weapons. Hopefully that’s just another one of the limits of the demo, as the copy mentions that there are tons of upgrades for your mechanical arm, and that a key ability is to grapple and hurl large objects. I’d love a map that used no actual firearms – just hurlable objects and arm upgrades – resulting in a sky-borne orgy of hurtling dumpsters and arm-whipping maniacs. Level variety could also be an issue – the novelty of the vertical tiered map was awesome, but they can’t all just be palette swaps of that. However, if you take away that tiered vertical layout, then what point is there to the swinging mechanics? Maintaining interest without losing the appeal might be a pretty daunting task.
So far, though, I’m nothing but impressed. This game didn’t even register a blip on my radar until I downloaded the demo on a whim, and now I’m counting the days until it’s released. Why?
Because it’s Spider-man with guns.
Why did you even read the rest of this article when I told you that right up front? Do you ask more ? Your greed…my god, it’s astounding. Do you realize there are starving children in China that don’t even have Spider-man?