Bionic Commando opens with the audience learning that following the events of the previous Bionic Commando game, Nathan Spencer was arrested by the military and put into containment until the events of the latest game. He was also separated from his beloved bionic arm which was the real star of the original game. The opening level of the game has Nathan Spencer being freed from containment only to find the building he is in is under siege. He must battle his way through the compound using only a pistol until he is reunited with his bionic arm. From here Nathan is back in action, battling the terrorist group bio-reign after they detonate a bomb which levels most of Ascension City.
However, the time away from his bionic arm has left Nathan unable to perform some of his staple abilities. While progressing through the game Nathan will relearn and be able to use several different abilities for his Bionic arm. The bionic arm is really the core of the gameplay, allowing players to jump and swing around like spider-man while shooting bad guys with an assortment of weaponry. The bionic arm allows Nathan to attach and swing from any object whether it be a car, building or streetlight. Nathan can use his Bionic arm for more than just swinging. He can also perform both light and heavy attacks as well as an assortment of moves that really define Bionic Commando. Nathan has the ability to attach to an enemy and pull himself toward them foot first. Just like Doctor Octopus he can grab enemies and slam them into the wall or any other conveniently placed object or enemy. Nathan can also perform an ability called “kiting” in which Nathan uses his bionic arm to fly an enemy like a kite. While up in the air Nathan is free to shoot them or just let them blow around in the breeze. The bionic arm is strong enough that Nathan can latch onto cars and toss them effortless at enemies. The arm can also be used for clearing areas via a whip spin or just taking out enemies with a whip strike.
While the Bionic Arm is without a doubt the star of the game and at the core of the gameplay Nathan has a wide variety of weapons at his disposal to take out the bio-reign terrorists. The guns in Bionic Commando are only meant to supplement the gameplay or help the player get through the trickier parts of the game. Nathan is given a standard pistol to begin the game and can only access other guns by getting ammo drops from Super Joe. Even though the enemies use fire arms Nathan cannot pick up and use them. Super Joe usually delivers the guns are critical points in a level where they may be required to complete the section. Some of the weapon that Super Joe will air drop are a machine gun, sniper rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher and grenades. Ammo is quite scarce and you will find yourself consistently running out of ammo. Running out of ammo forces players to improve and rely upon their trusted bionic arm to get them out of a pinch.
Watching your ammunition consumption will play a large role when attempting to complete the various “challenges” that Bionic Commando offers players. These challenges are not mandatory to beat the game and are unlocked by progressing far enough, unlocking new weapons or beating previous challenges. The different challenges have a wide range of objectives; some will require you to kill a certain amount of enemies with each weapon while others will be more specific like blowing up six enemies with one grenade. Some of the objectives offer a small reward for completing them such as increasing the clip size for weapons or giving Nathan more armor to deflect damage.
The most disheartening thing I found with Bionic Commando was not being able to continue pursuing achievements and challenges when replaying a mission. If you try to go back and play a previous level you will be greeted with a message saying no challenges or achievements will be saved while you progress through this mode. This immediately limits the amount of replayability some will experience with this title. In order to complete some of the challenges you may have missed during your initial run through of the game, you will have to start a brand new campaign. Bionic Commando does offer four levels of difficulties for those looking to play the game more than once.
There is also a multiplayer mode which offers the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag game modes. The online boasts up to eight players and sixteen maps. I found the online to be enjoyable but it didn’t do very much to keep my interest for more than a few rounds of gameplay.
There are several instances in the game where you will have to make split second decisions in order to survive which can really provide for some tense moments. There are also several blatant advertisements that may pop up on billboards throughout the game which I found incredibly distracting. I thought that Bionic Commando took place on another planet and I didn’t realize that Pepsi, Nvidia, and Alienware have expanded beyond Earth.
The voice acting of Bionic Commando is fairly decent throughout the entire game. There were plenty of moments in the game where I thought I heard something different than what was being conveyed. I had to replay one boss battle several times which started me back far enough that I had to hear the audio track again. While this is quite common in most games, Bionic Commando actually changes up the dialogue for some of its lines which helped reduce the monotony of replaying a portion of the game over and over. The developers also sneaked in quite a few hilarious pieces of dialogue during these parts of the game. The boss battle I mentioned before has Super Joe saying “Your just going to have to kill it.” Every four or five replays this actually changed to “Your just going to have to F*ck it!” Every time I heard this I did a double take. Did I just hear that or is my mind playing tricks on me?
The final boss battle is a little disappointing since you do not even get to fight the final boss. Instead it is a series of quick time events which reminded me a lot of the boss battles in Ninja Blade.
Overall I found Bionic Commando to be a game that I had a lot of fun playing through but not being able to play past levels to pursue achievements and challenges left me with no desire to replay the game whatsoever. It’s a fun game with strong game mechanics.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Bionic Commando.