Capcom is answering the standing 8-count after taking it on the chin following the release of Bionic Commando in 2009—a game that flopped so hard, it made Cristiano Ronaldo blush. While Bionic Commando Rearmed, the previous year's faithful (if HD) downloadable remake of the original NES game, sold well and received critical acclaim, a full-fledged 3D platformer wasn't what fans wanted, leading to the first real disaster title for the game developer in this generation of games. Thankfully, Swedish developers Fatshark were given another go at a sequel to the downloadable title, and have returned with a brand-new platforming adventure for bionically-armed, flat-footed Nathan Spencer. There will be grabbing. There will be shooting. There will be...jumping?! Oh yes, there will be jumping.
By Troy Mounis
Game antagonist and generally awful human being General Sabio is hoping to bring out his inner Kim Jong-Il by launching a missile strike on the Federation Headquarters. Unlucky for him, that’s the crib of Nathan “Rad” Spencer, a genetically-engineered soldier of fortune with a mechanical arm. Nathan has learned quite a bit in the few years since first mission, returning with an enhanced artillery, the ability to jump (a first for the franchise, outside of the Xbox 360 game which shall remain nameless), and a mustache—because apparently having a freakin’ bionic arm doesn’t make you badass enough.
Bionic Commando is a series that you can’t mess around with too much without changing what makes it great. That said, the much-touted jumping ability is a nice addition, albeit one that isn’t going to blow your mind. The platforming puzzles tick up just a bit on the difficulty meter now that you have to juggle timing a jump with latching onto lights, megaphones and high platforms, but if you’ve played any of the games in the series, you won’t really be challenged with any of the new platform puzzles. Expect to die quite a bit, though—but you already knew that, you BCchamp, you.
In terms of the actual playthrough of the game, the presentation received an eye-catching facelift: art studio Massive Black (who had previously worked on Infamous, Bioshock 2 and God of War III) provided 2.5D cut scenes, and the graphics in general were fine-tuned by the fine folks at Fatshark (Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West). In other words, if you want to look at something pretty for a few hours (outside of ogling a Victoria’s Secret catalogue), you can’t go wrong here.
There is a sufficient amount of content and replayability in this package to warrant the $15 you’ll have to plunk down to get it. For the record, that’s five dollars more than its 2008 predecessor—and while inflation hasn’t quite hit the 50 percent rate the last time we checked, there’s more to love here. Local multiplayer was ratcheted up, forgoing the awkward splitscreen mode from the first game and opting to go with a cooperative campaign instead. You can easily get through the game without a second player, but if you’ve got a buddy (or a bored girlfriend) that can provide some serviceable support, you can share the bionic love.
Also, fanatics of the soul-crushing challenge rooms of the first BC will be heartened to know that another batch of them are coming your way, complete with online leaderboards to help rub ridiculous times in your friends’ faces. Casual gamers beware: These are not for the faint of heart, so if you’d like to avoid tipping the swear jar and growling like an angry bear in heat out of frustration, you may want to stick to the kiddie pool of the fairly easy campaign.
We don’t have many gripes of note, especially when the game takes so many previous features and improves on them. However, we were slightly (and only very slightly) disappointed by the soundtrack by game composer Simon Viklund, who nonetheless turned in a decent music accompaniment to Nate’s mayhem. To be fair, it’s less of an indictment of BCR2’s soundtrack and more kudos to Viklund’s phenomenal score from the first game, which had a better mix of NES-era boops and next-generation beats.
If anything, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2has allowed Capcom to dust themselves off from a rough outing and show that the viability of the franchise rests solely on execution. Perhaps continued success in the 2.5D genre will eventually lead to a fully-realized 3D game that does Nate the Great proud—but in the meanwhile, we’ll be more than happy to continue enjoying these bite-sized adventures.
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is available Feb. 1 on PlayStation Network for $14.99 and Feb. 2 on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 MS points.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.