Bionic Commando: Rearmed
Recently, Capcom has done an incredible job in regards to releasing a wide array of titles on the digital download front, and so far this year we’ve gotten a steady lineup of throwbacks that will surely keep fans satisfied for years to come. Bionic Commando: Rearmed is the latest, and possibly greatest recent digital download game to come out. For 800 space bucks (Microsoft points), $10 on the PSN, or $15 on one of the numerous online outlets for the PC, it’s quite amazing to see the game come out for such a great price in comparison to the seemingly lesser valued titles being released these days.
You cannot jump in this game at all. This is very important to understand before you even play any Bionic Commando game, and no matter how much you wish that A button would make Radd Spencer jump, it won’t happen. The basic idea of control is to use your Bionic Arm to swing and climb your way around different levels. As Radd, you control much like any other side-scrolling shooter, such as Rush ‘n Attack or even Mega Man, but because you can’t jump you have to get around obstacles in different ways. This turns the genre upside down by combining a lot of puzzle elements to the seemingly simple gameplay of running around and killing enemies.
If you’ve played the NES version, then you probably have a good idea of what you’re getting into. Rearmed is based off of that version of the original Bionic Commando, and while I do prefer the arcade release, it was probably the best choice overall. The campaign mode has you traversing into different Areas that you must infiltrate, and then defeat that level’s boss. There are multiple bases of the FSA, who is the organization you work for. Here, you can find new items, get health, and most importantly, “discover” Challenges for the Challenge Room mode.
The Challenge Room is by far the best addition to the game. Challenges are merely a series of puzzles that are similar to VR Training in the Metal Gear Solid series. However, to take it even further, each Challenge lets you get a best time, and then you are ranked with the rest of the world online. It is probably one of the most addictive things I’ve played in recent times, and there’s nothing better than when your friend gets a better score than you, and then proceeding to beat that score. While there is no online multiplayer component, it’s not really needed here. There is a local multiplayer of CTF and some other gametypes, but really the Challenge Room is where most people will be spending their time after playing the campaign.
The team at GRIN did an amazing job with the presentation, art, and sound. Toshiaki Mori did some of the coolest designs yet, which are featured in the cut scenes and some of the in-game assets. The BC:R has all-new remixed sound that retains the classic feel of the C64 and NES versions, but with a twist. It looks like a lot of work went into this area of the game, and it really benefits from it all. I’ve never felt more content with a game in this way in quite some time. A nice feature on the PS3 version is the ability to use Remote Play, though the execution is a bit off simply because the game was not meant to have any lag whatsoever, and it somewhat hinders how you play if your connection is too bad. The PS3 version is lacking Trophies, though it will be getting them in a patch sometime in the future.
The controls in Bionic Commando: Rearmed feel very hit or miss on the Xbox 360 in some ways, mainly due to the unrefined dpad that is still be using despite numerous complaints for the last 3 years, not counting the previous 4 years when people hated the original Xbox’s dpad. I am surprised at how well I was able to do with a lot of practice, and have been able to play the game fine in spite of this. However, it did take a while to get used to it, and it can be quite painful to play for long periods of time. The DualShock 3 just feels like a perfect match for this game. Controlling Radd, on either platform, feels just right, and thankfully we don’t have any issues with collision detection or input lag.
Now, there is one caveat to the Rearmed. It doesn’t really make sense to me, but the load times on the Xbox 360 version seem absurdly long for a downloadable title. I’m not quite sure what happened there, but it can take twice as long to load in comparison to the PS3 version. The PC version is obviously faster than either, taking less than a second to load at most. In any case, the load times can get annoying on the 360 version, especially when you’re switching around levels and Challenges a lot. This is still minor, but it is still unfortunate, as well as confusing.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed is THE complete package at a low, low price. If Capcom wanted to be greedy, this could have been a full game for sale on almost every platform at $30-40 dollars, but luckily they went the digital download route. This is probably one of the best, if the not the best downloadable title on the PSN and XBLA by far.