Did you enjoy Yakuza? Well, the team that wrote that brilliant story are back and this time they’ve gone all futuristic in Binary Domain. This is a FPS with some pretty cool ideas. I know you’re thinking you’re bored of FPS’s, but wait, this is really a good one. It does lack some polish in areas, but overall this is a very well told story with decent gameplay and nice looking graphics. The novel part of this game is the ability to control a squad of heroes via any common headset with a mic. You shout out controls and the squad (most of the time) follows your prompts. This adds a slight strategy feel, but don’t panic action fans, you will still enjoy shooting the hell out of the robots in the game.
Your character is called Dan Marshall (typical hero name), the team leader of a group of soldiers who are hired by an agency to kill Hollow Children, which is code for human like robots. Now, I should tell you the story at this point. The year is 2080 AD and robotics is all the rage, the Amada Corporation has developed robots with human skins and they have infiltrated the human population. The UN have seen it fit to band together a group of soldiers called the Rust Crew and send them to Tokyo to investigate and bring down Amada. So you reach Tokyo and find not only do you have to find these Hollow Children, but the robots have also rebelled and are tearing through their original masters. As you would expect, a lot of robot ass kicking needs to take place.
The controls are easy to use and are of standard FPS kind. You can switch weapons with the D-pad and shoot with R1. You can jump, crouch and use cover which is quickly becoming the norm for FPS. You also have the ability to fire off a charged shot from your weapon which deals a lot of damage and looks pretty flash to. Your squad members are sadly very clichéd as they have many one liners and sometimes this gives the game a B-movie feel, however they will ask you questions which you need to respond to either via the mic or the control pad. I found the control pad best as it was faster. Sometimes during gameplay, my unit would not respond to my commands. The game also uses this conversation system as a feature, depending on how you answer your team mates they will either like you and listen to you or not. This works well for the most part as it’s very tough to be disliked in this game and it’s a nice touch by SEGA as it makes you feel a part of the story rather than just shooting through it.
Another good touch is that, when playing the game, your squad will shout at you. For example, I was taking my sweet time shooting some robots and the team told me I was terrible and I needed to hurry up, this gave me negative points and their opinion of me went down. It’s an odd feeling to be watched by your squad, but again, it’s another clever idea. The gameplay is a mix of shooting and covering, somewhat of a Gears of War but not as well polished. The cover system, however, does work very well and the shooting is accurate, there is a really good feeling of pumping bullets into a robot and watching its armour fall off. You can even shoot its legs and watch the machine crawl toward you like a terminator. It’s little touches like these that make you think the developers really thought about the game’s identity. The inclusion of a online co-op and 4 player co-op is also a nice option as you can play with your friends which is where the game is most fun. You can shout abuse and profanity till you’re blue in the face.
The graphics are lovely and the colour palette used is very nice. The futuristic landscape of Tokyo is lovingly made and the light bounces off objects very nicely. The facial expressions are good but not great and sometimes the movements of the limbs during combat look a bit blocky. The weather effects are again done well but not brilliantly. The rain is seen in puddles but not trickling off your body. The guns look really cool though and the variety is nice. They have a nice kick to them as you shoot and the enemy types are actually varied and the AI is very smart. They will flank you at every opportunity and actually hide behind cover. It’s refreshing to see actual intelligent robots in a game about intelligent robots.
The sounds are fine and the music is fitting for the different environments and settings you’re in. The way the dialogue is presented is not bad but not that believable. The cut scenes when the story is being told are just as lovely as you would expect from the team behind BD. The 10 hour campaign is not overly short or overly long. The story is told at a good pace and you see your actions affecting things. The levelling-up system is cool as you can assign health, damage and other bonuses to yourself or your team mates. The option screens are very sexy I have to say and they respond perfectly.
Overall, Binary Domain is an example of a game that is trying to bring new ideas to a crowded marketplace. The voice commands are not new, but using your mic gives the action an added authentic feel as if you’re in an actual squad. The gameplay itself is common FPS stuff, but that’s not a bad thing as the quality is good here. The graphics are nice to look at, this is no RAGE but I fell it wasn’t trying to be. This is the first venture for this group into this genre of games and they have to be commended for their efforts. There are lots of clichés here and some technical glitches but I would recommend this and the online co-op adds a nice longevity to this. I told you robots are bad news.
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