Review: Binary Domain

by on April 29, 2012 >> PCPS3ReviewsXbox

This is a for the PC port of the title . The PS3 and Xbox 360 experiences are in all honesty probably more fun, run better and have better controls.

I found myself yelling “CHARGE!” into my microphone at 2am in an effort to move my troops forward in the new game Binary Domain. This wasn’t a gesture I was making because I was so into the game, the same kind of gesture a gamer makes when turning the controller in hopes that their actual movements might make their character move just that perfect amount. Rather this was something I’d have to do in order to actually get my troops to be effective in combat. I pity my neighbors.

My experiences with Binary Domain are mixed at best. The game looks great, plays well, is a lot of fun most of the time but then come the hiccups. The small little things that when all piled together make it so that I don’t want to play the game any more and actually dreaded finishing it. It’s such a shame too, because Binary Domain could have been a stand out shooter for SEGA and with a few pushes in the right direction it could have been the sleeper hit of 2012. Instead it’ll go down as another missed opportunity from the ex console maker.

Binary Domain has you playing as Dan, an ex US Military soldier who now works in a “Rust Crew”. His job is to tear apart robots and keep companies from breaking the second Geneva accord, which states that no nation will make human like robots. So guess what Japan has been doing in secret for 30 years! That’s right they’ve been making robots that not only look human but they don’t know that they’re machines. Now Dan and his partner Bo have to sneak into this new version of Tokyo take out the Amada corporation and destroy these machines. Along they way you meet up with “interesting” characters, sympathize with your squad mates and shoot robots in the face.

Shooting Robots in the face is easily the best part of this cover based shooter. Taking mechanics from Gears and the like, Binary Domain has you blind firing, doing the Roadie Run and more to stave off the onslaught of enemy fire. Returning the fire is just as tight and precise with great controls and and real feeling that your bullets are truly ripping the enemy apart. Each robot has to be dismantled in a particular way. Take out their legs to slow them down and then go for the headshot kill. Watching pieces of Robot armor fly off before limbs explode and heads are decimated is a blast and more games should take this kind of damage into effect.

The story is wafer thin but in an effort to try to make you care about your squad mates is a weird mechanic where Binary Domain wants you to actually talk to your team. Hook up a headset and start yelling commands, complimenting them, and ask for help when you need it. See part of your team just laying back in cover? Tell them to fire and they will. Tell them to “Blitz” “Rush” or “Charge” and they’ll go head first into combat shooting everything in their way. This would be great if it worked all the time. Sadly there are words that it just didn’t pick up on at all. No matter how many times I tried to say certain words it wouldn’t hear me. Whether this was a lapse in programming or I need to say it in the original Japanese I’ll never know. Luckily there are multiple phrases that all do the same job, but some that should work in any situation don’t. When asked if I’m ready to go up against a bunch of bad ass robots I respond with “Piece of cake” and my partner Bo looks and me and says “It’s ok. I don’t know what you’re talking about anyway.”

Large boss fights punctuate the game and I found that some of these were great and involved me having to use special weapons to peel away armor and then attack the sweet spot. Some of these are great and others are glitchy, don’t follow any pattern and are just down right frustrating. Getting locked into a cycle of damage that from an enemy you can’t hurt or get away from. It felt a bit like being bullied into a corner and not being allowed to leave. Despite that I found the difficulty varied depending on the situation but wildly so. Mini-bosses were far more difficult to take out than the large bosses where situations presented themselves. A miniboss will take brunt force to take out while they’re firing a barrage of bullets at you. Picking your shots perfectly and timing them well will damage the enemy and keep you alive, but takes time. One giant boss which is powerful enough to take down buildings just needs rocket shots to the legs and it’s done and the warzone is littered with rockets.

There are online multiplayer modes as well but even on the first day the game launched I couldn’t find anyone to play with and people kept backing out to the lobby so I couldn’t really tell you how great this mode is. Right now there seem to be very few people interested at all. Maybe on 360 it’s a better situation.

Binary Domain is so close to being good but just fall short of the mark. I am hoping for a sequel to this stylish and good looking game that pulls from some of my favorite anime like Ghost in the Shell (down to the themes and score) and movies like Blade Runner but never quite reaches their level of sophistication. I’d keep a look out for a sale on this one. Anything more than 20 bucks and it’s not a worthy addition to your collection. Also keep in mind the previous article I wrote about this game (which is almost just as long) that’s all bout how frustrating it was to set up controls. This score takes that whole rant into account as well.

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