Bionic Commando Review (PS3)
A reboot of a classic franchise that went wrong
After all the swinging, you finally encounter some enemies. At times, the game almost felt like a low budget third person shooter rather than an action adventure. Most of the game is populated with two or three variations of the basic enemies which are appropriately called “Pro-Bionics grunts” and are dispatched easily with two shots from any rifle. The only variations appear later in the game as rocket-wielding enemies and heavy enemies appear. Rocket guys are not very accurate with their shots, and can often take out members of their own team, and heavies are basically armor-covered machine gun grunts. Dispatching of all human enemies in the game is straightforward and easy, the only challenge is staying alive when taking fire from more than 3 enemies at a time. The other opponents in the game are the robots which cause a lot more problems for you than humans. There are only two varieties, mech-like robots that are mostly ground enemies and airplane-like robots which always attack from a distance and can’t be grappled on to. Both these varieties will be encountered during the more difficult missions, and often they are guarding a doorway which you need to progress through. They must be killed in order for the doorway to open, but every fight plays out similarly. Conventional weapons (except for grenade launcher) do little damage to the mechs, so the idea is to zip-kick their weak spot on the back. It’s brightly lit and visible, but in order to get behind the robot you must first stun them. For ground robots, you need to perform the aerial drop attack which causes them to fall for a few seconds so you can lock on their back and zip-kick. Rinse and repeat until they are dead, and repeat again each time you encounter them in the game. If feeling bored, you have the alternative to toss rocks or other objects at the robots, which is just as effective and less frustrating than trying to lock on their back. The flying type of robots are even easier, you simple shoot them with everything you have (lock on if needed). There are some variations with both these enemy types, but they simply differ in their attack patterns and range. The way to defeat them remains the same.
When playing a free-flowing game such as this, you hope for some good controls. Bionic Commando has some issues in this department. You always have your crosshairs, which jumps to the nearest object that can be grappled when you swing, so precision is not required. Swinging is therefore mostly effortless and can be enjoyed, but not too much – remember the radiation! When it comes to using the arm as a combat tool, the automatic lock-on for your crosshairs becomes random and erratic. Grabbing on to human soldiers works ok for the most part, but when it comes to battling the robots and trying to grapple their back while they are down, it becomes real hit-or-miss. Since your crosshair doesn’t actually point at the center of your screen, instead it jumps around between surfaces that you can grab on to, many times you miss grabbing on to the robot’s back from point-blank range and have to restart the sequence of finding a high surface and doing your drop attack again. The inaccuracy becomes frustrating rather than helpful in combat, but it can result in many deaths during platforming as well if you grab on to a ledge that was too close to the water and watch yourself drown.
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