Binary Domain User Review
The story is going to be loved by some, and perhaps hated by others. I found myself really surprised at how original and fresh the both the story and setting felt. Sure it might share ideas and themes with movie like Irobot, but by the end of the game the story had turned into something quite special and unique.
Created by Toshihiro Nagoshi(creator of Yakuza), the set up for the plot is basically the world getting flooded due to global warming, and forcing governments to build cities on top of the water. Millions of people were killed from this, so they employed robots to do the work for them. Two big robotics companies rose to power, the American Bergen company, and the Japanese Amada Corporation. In 2040, they came up with the New Geneva Convention, which was a set of international laws one of the laws, banned research into robots that could pass for humans, called Hollow Children. This sets the stage for the game and the intro opens up with a Hollow Child attacking the Bergen company, however the twist is that before the attack he had no idea that he was a human.
The game places you in the shoes of Dan Marshall, who is part of a global task force call "Rust Crew" whose job is to enforce the New Geneva convention. Your job is to bring Amada in for questioning as he is suspected behind the attack.
The story was what kept me playing, aside from some hit or miss voice acting, I really enjoyed the plot. I constantly felt like pushing forward to see what was going to happen next. The ending was satisfying, and there are actually multiple variations based on what characters like you most, which his a mechanic I'll get into later. The characters may not be as deep as characters from say Mass Effect, but they do a good job of moving the story forward. There are some character stereotypes but I never found them to be offensive however I did hear some people complaining about them.
The game does have a very Japanese feel to it, from the cut scenes to the sense of humour, you can definitely tell this comes from the land of the rising sun. All in all if you enjoy Sci-Fi robot themed stories you are probably going to enjoy this.
The gameplay is where this game really shines. It has to be one of the cleanest most polished third person shooters I have played in a long time. Borrowing from Gears of War it uses a similar style of stop and pop gameplay, where you have to rely on cover in order to survive. However it feels much more responsive and much smoother than Gears ever felt to me. Essentially the game boils down to using cover taking out enemies and moving forward just like every other shooter, but it throws in enough fun diversions and boss fights that it never feels like a grind and never was boring. The real fun comes from how the enemies respond to being shot. If you take off an enemies head it will fire blindly and take out its own comrades. Shoot off its arms and it switches arms, take out a leg and it crawls towards you, hoping to latch on and self destruct. These mechanics really add a lot of fun to the traditional third person shooter formula. On harder difficulties you really have to make sure the enemy is dead, otherwise you might have a friend hugging your leg ready to explode and end your life. The game has a great sense of progression, as you kill enemies you are awarded with credits, which you can spend at vender terminals. You can buy permanent nanobot upgrades for your characters which can increase your stats, like the amount of time your invulnerable when you dodge, to how much armour or hps you have. On top of this you can upgrade your guns to do more damage, be more accurate, have bigger clips etc. This can be done for all of the characters and what I really liked is that you can actually feel the difference. By the end of the game you are still attacked by robots you saw at the beginning, and it is really nice to see how much stronger you have become when you have your fully upgraded gun kill them in the blink of an eye.
Boss fights were all really fun, and really reminded me of classic SEGA arcade games. A lot of the boses are huge and have very nice designs to them, and all of them felt different and exciting to take down.
Some of the other gameplay elements aren't all there but I applaud the effort for trying to integrate something new. For starters the vehicle segments are a little dull, and aiming out of a truck makes aiming a little tough sometimes. Thankfully these moments are few and far between and didn't take away from my overall experience.
The last gameplay feature I will touch down on is the voice commands. In theory they wanted you to be able to shout into your mic and your squad would respond. I didn't have any trouble with this, however sometimes the voice recognition got it wrong. In the end I defaulted to using buttons to shout out commands with felt way better and was more reliable. Shouting out commands and complimenting your team gets them to like you more, likewise being a jerk and shooting your team makes causes them to not like you. This can have gameplay effects as a team mate who doesn't like you may not revive you if your downed, or might not give you covering fire etc. It also has an effect on the ending cut scenes.
Lastly I would like to touch down on the multiplayer. The multiplayer had the potential to be really awesome, however it is quite imbalanced due to high level Japanese players and SEGA not balancing out some of the weapons. Competitive Multiplayer modes are standard affair but most people are playing Team Deathmatch or Team survival which plays out something like counter strike where you only have one life. You select from a bunch of predetermined classes, like sniper, scout, soldier etc and jump into the game. You unlock points each round and can spend it at the beginning of the next round on guns, health kits, and grenades. However a lot of the guns you can buy are overpowered so whoever wins the first round seems to win the rest, not always but that seemed to happen a lot. Now when I was playing I noticed players had perks that I didn't have access too. I never figured out how to change my perks or if I had to get to a higher level to be able to do so. This was another issue that led to balance issues, as the level 50 Japanese players could sometimes take double the bullets making them incredible tough to take out.
The mode I actually played the most was Binary Domains take on Horde mode. It was really fun and really challenging, as you had limited ammo and only got restocked every 5 rounds or so. The problem with this mode was that unless you had friends to start a game with it was extremely hard to join a match, as you couldn't join a game in progress. So I'm still not sure if this mode was mega unpopular or that I just couldn't find games because they were all already in progress.
Over all I enjoyed the multiplayer for a good month of casual play before the balance issues really got to me. Some of you know I come from a competitive PC FPS background so I tend to be a little picky when it comes to online shooters. With no word on SEGA addressing the issues I decided to move on. Its not a complete throw away, I'm sure some of you might really love it.
Overall it doesn't do anything new but it does the third person formula so well that its hard not to recommend it based on the smooth gameplay alone.
Graphics are good, and I really liked the designs of the robots. While its not pushing crazy amounts of polygons I really dig the clean look the game has. As you get further in the game and reach the higher class areas of Tokyo, the excellent art design becomes more apparent. One nice touch was a part where umbrellas open up over a walkway as you cross over a bridge. It just really helps sell the feeling that you are in a high tech future. Dismantling robots limbs is visually satisfying, and watching their appendages explode into pieces looks fantastic.
However I did encounter some slow down at certain parts it never crippled me to the point where I couldn't play.
The soundtrack was pretty excellent and some boss fights towards the end of the game had some really great music scores. The guns sounded good, and the noise of bullets clinking and clanking on robots until they exploded was also well done. The problem is with the voice acting. I felt like it could have been better, and while its not horrible by any means, I can only imagine how much more impact the story could have had, if they had better voice actors. Part of the problem could have been the script, translation. However that being said there is some charm to some of the one liners that fans of B movies might chuckle at.
This is where the game just comes together beautifully. I think this is one of the best controlling if no the best controlling console third person shooter to date. I never went into cover by accident, never jumped out of cover by accident, and never felt like I was fighting the controls ever. Anytime I messed up it was me, not the controls. The controls were responsive, aiming was fast and fluid. Rolling and dodging was a breeze and felt fast and fluid as well.
My only complaint would be the melee, however this seems to be more about the game play aspect. Melee felt useless, with most guns you stopped moving took a swing and couldn't move for a second. This was the only thing that hampered the controls and movement. Otherwise like I said everything was super slick and super responsive.
This game has the potential to have a lot of replay value, however as it stands it doesn't really and here's why. The multiplayer in this game isn't being playing by many people. The people who are playing it are mostly high leveled and Japanese, which makes some games impossible to win as they have better perks and gear than you. If you have a group of friends to play with you might get more life out of this title in the online space by playing Binary Domains take on Horde mode. Which is actually really fun and really challenging. However if you have no friends most people aren't playing this mode, and you can't join mid game so even if people were it can be hard to get a game going.
The single player is worth going through a couple times though if you are interested in seeing different cutscenes play out. Also the game is just that fun that it warrants going through again just because smashing robots feels so good.
As you can tell I really loved this game. It controlled amazing, had nice graphics, and super fun gameplay. It's sad that this game has gone unnoticed because it ends with the set up to a sequel. However judging by how few people heard of it I am doubtful it is going to happen.
This game is such a breath of fresh air, the setting and story are unique and the gameplay is smooth and responsive. I highly recommend this to any shooter fans, and even fans of Toshihiro Nagoshis other work. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.