AMD Radeon HD 5750
Binary Domain is a game that can be summarised in a short, concise sentence. It’s about shooting robots and laughing maniacally to yourself as they fall to pieces in front of your eyes. That’s essentially all there is to it. Sure, there are other elements like commanding your team mates, the trust system, weapon upgrades etc, but it’s this core gameplay mechanic that is where Binary Domain really shines. There are countless other third person shooters out there but very few achieve the same level of satisfaction from dispatching your (I, Robot inspired) foes. This is a bit of a relief as I would have a hard time giving a negative score to a game where your team mates actually react to you saying “fuck”. Anyway, moving on.
In the early 21st century the world got a bit screwed. Most of the world got flooded and a lot of people died. So, to compensate for the loss of a bunch of dirty, lazy union members, people of the future decided to make shiny obedient robots instead. Governments of the new world had seen the movie Terminator, so decided to play it smart, forming a “New Geneva Convention”, which bans research into robots that can be mistaken for humans called “Hollow Children”. To enforce these rules a global task force called “Rust Crews” are formed by IRTA (International Robotics Technology Association). When a Hollow Child appears in the biggest robot manufacturers HQ, a Rust Crew is called to investigate the main suspect – a Japanese corp. called Amada Corporation.
You play as the unofficial leader of the international Rust Crew group, an ex US soldier, Sergeant Dan Marshall. The game starts just off the coast of Japan, where you have to get yourself to a rendezvous point to meet your overseas colleagues. The start of the game is the only point where you have only one AI teammate to keep you company. For the rest of the time you have two other incompetent AI pets to look out for. I say look out for as, if you accidentally put a bullet into the back of their skull, they tend to get a bit pissed off - which can come back to bite you in the ass later on. Friendly AI can, in theory, revive you. But more often than not, you have to revive them. They do fire a lot but I bet a heavily cross eyed 90 year old with tourette’s has better aim. In general, your team AI feels like a baby that you have to constantly watch out for, which gets progressively more tedious as the game goes on.
Larger than life weapons
This can’t be said about the enemy AI. Yes, in a lot of ways it’s very simplistic and (appropriately) ‘robotic’, but there are enough varieties of robots to keep the game from getting repetitive. Some are more inclined to come at you Rambo style, using a variety of different guns, whilst others tend to go for a more ...hands on approach. Fortunately however, none of them feel boring to shoot. Oh and did I mention that there are even monkey and zombie robots!
The shooting feels alright, but the most satisfying part is when you actually hit your target. Never in a game have I felt so good blasting a hoard of enemies. Never in a game was there such an obvious impact reaction. You see the damage done by each and every bullet. So, when you spray and pray, the battlefield gets littered by robot armour debris. Practically all enemies have a few layers and then skeletal components that can be knocked off individually. First there is an armour shell that always results in a lot of tiny particles littering the room. Then there are arms, legs and a head. If you shoot off the head then the robot will start attacking anything that’s close to it . If you take off their “weapon” arm they’ll just pick the gun off the ground with the one hand left and continue where they left off. If you take out both of their arms they will come to you and start kicking. If you shoot off their legs they’ll start crawling towards you... unfortunately they don’t call it “just a flesh wound” and threaten to bite your legs off if you walk away.
This game has all the basic weapons like pistols, shotguns, SMG’s and a melee attack. Well, melee hit is useless most the time as you have to land multiple blows to take out an enemy. Even though it’s the future, there are no crazy explosive pistols or rail guns and you are limited to no more than two weapons at any given moment. There are also heavy weapons that can be carried around but can’t be “pocketed”. Those big boys pack a punch, but you move so slow and the ammo on the minigun runs out so fast, that you feel more annoyed to have them than not. It’s like giving you a taste of a sweet candy and then snatching it from your clutches!
Does this remind you of anything?
There is a weapon upgrade system, but it only upgrades your main weapon. You can buy them in a “store” using the credits accumulated from your kills. Along with weapon upgrades you can also purchase skill upgrades. These can improve your various stats like health, dexterity or even trust you gain. When you buy or find a skill it’s stored in your inventory and has to be equipped to generate the bonuses. The equipping of bonuses is like a mini game in itself, as you have only 2x3 spaces for them, and they come in various shapes like Tetris blocks (so you have to choose wisely). If you have too many credits to spend you can upgrade your team mates’ main weapons or buy them skills too.
This is a third person shooter and those usually come with a cover system. Binary Domain is no exception. But in here the cover system is as basic as one can be. You can only go in, out or vault over cover. You can’t move manoeuvre around corners or quickly change cover. Obviously, as this is a straight up console port, it has the same annoying feature whereby you have just one key for running that also sticks you to cover à la Gears of War.
The game has a rather unique function – voice recognition. In theory you could speak to your teammates rather than pushing buttons to command them. This sounds as cool as Kinect when it was announced, but unfortunately it’s as useful as Kinect is now. The sound recognition works 50/50. Or, in my case with my stupid accent, 30/70. But using it is still unnatural. I had to press a button, lean and talk to my microphone slooooowlyy. Though I have to admit that it was funny when I shouted “Fuck” and got an “Aren’t you smooth” answer. Unfortunately “Fuck off” was interpreted as “Awesome” and no amount of slowliness helped.
The character screen reminds you of an RPG, but it's a plain TPS
The sounds in this game are good. Nothing that will blow you away but it does the job. The music is a mix of pop and some classical Japanese music that fits the game pretty well. Voice acting is also solid but the writers and VO directors should seriously reconsider their choice of career. The dialogue is so cheesy and the “accents” so stereotypical that it’s not even funny. Visually speaking, the game is decent at best. Main character models, textures and animations are pretty good whilst others are good enough that you don’t notice any major flaws. It’s really the particles that are where the graphics really shine!
With regards to how well this has been ported, I’d say it’s average at best. It had some major issues at launch which were quickly patched, but some problems still persist. Some sensitivity issues were addressed and now you can actually aim with a mouse and hit something. As usual per port it has bare bone graphical options but at least there is a skeleton. You have your resolution, AA, shadow and SSAO option. What is unusual is that you can adjust your FOV. But no settings for textures, AF or even customise sound. Just one slider for master sound volume. The port is not perfect but good enough that you can still enjoy it.
As for multiplayer - it’s tacked on, sucks and was dead on arrival. The developers could have rather bothered with Co-op but nooooo... If you are here just for MP – there are much better choices out there.
Overall, Binary Domain has some annoying issues and design choices but blasting robots is so damn fun that it just outweighs most of the bad. It’s nothing original or that we haven’t seen before with a setting from “I, Robot”, plot twists from “COD”, game mechanics from any other TPS and love themed plotlines straight out of Mass Effect. There are some stupid level design decisions, like you get a segment where you can only walk and “have to” interact with people. If they call that exploration and narrative decisions they deserve a kick in the balls. But the story is believable and enjoyable with a trip that will take you roughly around 9 hours to finish.
- The Game: “I, Robot” the game, the good kind.
- Entertainment: It’s very fun. Shooting grunt robots or boss robots never gets old.
- Zombies: Has zombie robots!
- Story: Entertaining and believable story that will take you roughly 9 hours to experience.
- Visuals: Good enough to not be noticed but not good enough to marvel in.
- Audio: The VO’s are good but too cheese but the accents...
- Design: Japanese design peculiarity.
- Controls: Got patched and is completely playable but it’s still not a proper PC game.
- Implementation: Console port - a decent one but not perfect.