Replay Value: 8.5
Capcom has been leading the pack when it comes down to quality downloadable titles. They've given us Puzzle Fighter HD, Battlefield: Wolf of the Commando 3, 1942 Joint Strike, Street Fighter is on its way, and here's Bionic Commando Rearmed. What is Bionic Commando Rearmed? An actual remake of the original 8-bit game released 20 years ago. Don't be confused with the other Bionic Commando game Capcom and GRIN are working on. Where as Bionic Commando will be a full-fledged 3D adventure, this Rearmed remake is a 2D action side-scroller.
As is the norm with old-school next-gen remakes, the core of Bionic Commando Rearmed remains practically unchanged, right down to the controls. The shooting and grappling mechanics remain untouched in this remake, so don't worry about the game messing with your nostalgic memories. But Capcom and GRIN have added new weapons to the arsenal, so you've got the ability to cause more damage. Additionally, a co-op mode has been put together for this remake, allowing a pair of gamers to play Rearmed's story mode simultaneously.
Now, staying true to an old-school classic is important when remaking it, but it's also important to consider if the mechanics of that old-school title still hold up today. And in the case of Bionic Commando...they don't. Bionic Commando Rearmed has a rather awkward control scheme, one that many won't be able to get used to for a while, simply because it doesn't feel all that intuitive.
To be intuitive, the controls of a game have to be logical and respond to your needs. One part of this intuition are the controls being setup in a way where whatever the gamer wants to do with his character, is as simple as him trying out that motion with his controller. Rearmed doesn't do that; as its controls feel 20 years old. By default, the grapple arm shoots diagonally. Holding up and using the arm will shoot it upwards, and holding down will shoot it forwards. But that's not all, a host of maneuvers and tricks exist for you to use, many of which you'll need to know in order to progress through some of the game's harder obstacles.
A full training area will explain everything you need to know and ask you to demonstrate training exercises, but you'll likely find yourself struggling with a few of them. Once you get the hang (no pun intended) of the swinging mechanics, the game should feel a bit easier to play. But you'd be delusional to think that this is anywhere near a cake walk...some portions of the game are just brutal to get through, and the dated controls don't help. As far as shooting goes, you've got no control of direction on that one. You can either shoot forward, or crouch and shoot forward, that's it.
As a whole, this Bionic Commando remake is not a bad game, it just feels a bit clunky in some spots. GRIN took the liberty of changing the way the health bar and continue system works, by giving the player unlimited continues, and offering health pick-ups. So it'd have been nice to see GRIN add an additional feature that allows you to play the game using updated controls. GRIN also took the liberty of redoing how boss battles worked; we don't quite remember how boss battles were in the original, but we were told by GRIN that they had been changed to be more strategic.
Furthermore, not everyone's going to like the 3D hacking challenges scattered around each of the game's stages, those can be rather boring and sometimes frustrating, as well. But a nice little addition is the multiplayer mode, good for up to four gamers that can compete in a few modes, such as Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, and Don't Touch the Floor. Scoreboards and medals are present, so perfectionists have something to look forward to after they've complete the core game. Little diversions like that make Bionic Commando Rearmed quite worthy of its $10 price-tag.
Lastly, Rearmed boasts cross-game connections with the Bionic Commando sequel, as completing parts of Rearmed will unlock specific content and hints about the sequel. Some of the content will be character profiles with "secret insight", as well as the plot of the sequel. So if you're looking forward to playing the all new adventure, Rearmed is a great way to refresh your memory, on top of lead you into the events of the sequel.
The visual overhaul that Bionic Commando Rearmed has been given is nothing short of brilliant. The game boasts vibrant colors, and gorgeous texture detail that are really pleasing to look at. Capcom had promised visuals that won't get a simple 2D/3D enhancement, and they delivered. Here we have visuals that easily fit into the next-generation might of the PS3 and Xbox 360, by even providing dynamic shadows, gorgeous lighting, environmental damage, and beautiful particle effects. The bosses are also fairly detailed, and quite large, which is always nice to see. As far as side-scrollers and downloadable games go, Rearmed is easily one of the best looking; not counting behemoths like Gran Turismo, Ratchet and Clank, Warhawk, etc., of course.
Audio is one of the game's coolest aspects, as Rearmed features a reworked soundtrack that is true to the original, yet greatly enhanced. The menu song, in particular, sounds awesome, making superb use of bass to carry its heavy beat along. That said, the gameplay tracks sound every bit as solid, as well. Even though the game's story unwraps via radio communication, much like Metal Gear Solid, there is no voice acting present here, unfortunately. But given that this is a downloadable game, it was expected.
Bionic Commando Rearmed is a solid downloadable title that you shouldn't be without if you're a fan of old-school classics, shooters in particular. Event though there are some frustrating quirks, GRIN and Capcom have given the original a massive overhaul in nearly every area, from the beautiful visuals, to the pumping audio, right down to the changes and additions made to the gameplay...for $10, this is a winner.