Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Binary Domain

Quick review to get my thoughts down on this because I just finished Binary Domain. Summary: Fun, worth the $40, got about 9 hours from campaign.

As a great man... well, bitter man at least *coughYahtzeecough* once said, if you're going to have quicktime events, make them a core part of gameplay. Binary Domain makes a cardinal sin of there's about 5 quicktime events in the entire 6 chapters of the game, and at least 2 are in the last chapter. First time one showed up, I boffed it because I had no idea what was up, since I was over an hour in to the game. And realistically, they could have done more QTE in the cinematics, since there's lots of action, and it would have made them a bit more interesting. There's a decent selection of guns, but for the most part, you'll probably stick with the default assault rifle, since you actually get to upgrade it and your squadmates' primary guns over the course of the game, and there's not a lot that doesn't go down quickly if you're a decent shot.
Decent enough variety of enemies, though the game seems fixated on humanoid robot enemies, rather than taking a core combat mechanic - the dismantling of enemies to best purposes - and expanding on that to create a variety of encounters with robots that react differently to having different parts shot off because they HAVE different parts. Instead, any non-humanoid, non-boss enemies almost universally don't have parts and just explode on taking enough damage. The humanoid robots attack randomly when they have their heads shot off, drop their weapon and pick it up with the other arm if you shoot one off, and if you shoot a leg off, it crawls towards you. They use cover, attempt flanking, and generally behave like they were human enemies in a modern game. Not much in the way of wacky "only possible because I'm a robot" tactics like jumping at you, or throwing stuff, etc. It's like someone saw Dead Space, and said "hey, what if we did that with people?" and then was called stupid because that game would be refused classification or slapped Adults Only, and so they came back with "Okay, so what if we did it with ROBOT PEOPLE?!?!" It works well enough, but really, they could have done so much more with the gimmick. Apart from that, it's pretty much a standard third-person shooter in gameplay and mechanics. Oh. Almost forgot. Apart from the voice recognition. Which I had to turn off. Because it's terrible. There's a list of words you can use to interact with your squad mates. But you can't train it, so you have to figure out how the designers intended for you to say the word. And since it's a limited list, what you say doesn't really translate well to responses to your squad for more than basic battle commands, since it just gives you a list of a couple words you can use to respond to whatever was said. "Damn it" is a popular option for response to personal questions. And you need to be in a perfectly quiet room, or shouting. If you are in a noisy room, you need to turn the noise threshold way up or your squadmates constantly think you're talking to them, and it gets aggravating really quickly. Honestly, you can get through just fine with button-press responses, which is all your voice is doing anyway. Your possible responses that the game gives you correspond to button-presses. Voice as an extra button. Fun idea, very poorly executed.

Graphics-wise, it's fine. Not the prettiest game ever, but apart from a few lip-syncing issues, nothing that actually took me out of the game. Not really a lot to say apart from the terrible rag-dolling when you get knocked down. They really screwed up there. Mechanics-wise, it's fine. Take a lot of damage, fall down, either use a med-kit to get up, or wait for/crawl to a squadmate to pick you up. But for some reason, before falling down, about 95% of the time, the character model seized up, then falls over like a marionette with the strings cut. That, or is violently flung ragdolling across the room, and then adjusts slightly to get in to the laying down pose. It was really dumb, and I can't understand what would cause that.

Plot is Battlestar Galactica on Earth. Robots look like us, they don't know they're robots. But some robots still look like robots. And damn it, we can't have robots getting all uppity. Some decent plot twists I don't really wanna spoil, so I'm not going to talk any more about it. The plot is mostly a framework to get you from area to area anyway, it doesn't influence the game play sections.

The game play is solid enough, and the game itself is pretty enough that really, if you like shooters, you should get it at some point. Not amazing enough to pick up instantly, but I enjoyed it, and managed to play it the whole way through without becoming overly bored or frustrated on the default difficulty, and not a lot of games have given me even that much lately. If they make a sequel or expansion, I'll definitely be getting it.

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