Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
Release: February 1-2, 2011
Genre: Platformer
Developer: FatShark
Available Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1-2
MSRP: $14.99 / 1200 Microsoft Points
ESRB Rating: Teen

Nathaniel “Rad” Spencer is back, and upgraded for more combat. When him and his platoon are dropped into the jungle to bring aid to some allies, he’s faced with insurmountable odds. Well, in the old days they’d be insurmountable; now, Spencer has gained the ability to break freak of gravity and actually jump! Coupled with his iconic bionic commando skills of a robotic arm and varying weaponry, Spencer must take out giant robots, heavily armed goons, and flying drones in this sequel to the 2008 downloadable title. Has two years off allowed for Rad to be more, well, rad?

The Bionic Commando franchise has been known for one element alone. The titular bionic commandos have an arm that can stretch out. It can allow you to swing from grapple points, pipes, trees, and the like, alongside defensively by grabbing and throwing barrels. In previous titles, this was your hero’s only way to go vertical. Surprisingly a revolutionary move for the franchise, players can now jump up over barrels, across gaps, and the like. The move isn’t required, and in fact bonuses are presented when you don’t use it, but it definitely makes the game more accessible. Players also have a varying amount of weaponry, including a pistol with infinite ammo, shotguns, and so forth.

On top of adding to the vertical move set, the game streamlines many elements from the previous title. Players no longer have the option to chose their path on the map, instead limiting to one contiguous set of stages. Sure, you can backtrack, but there’s only one way forward. In addition to that path forward, there’s now no enemy trucks to intercept you, and therefore no overhead stages. Likewise, the hacking mini-game has been removed (replaced in concept with a hacking claw). These streamlined elements don’t exactly make the game easier, it just allows the player to focus on what is the meat of the game. While there is a co-operative mode, we did not have a chance to experience it.

As bad and cheating as it feels, the jump ability definitely aids those not used to Nathan Spencer’s certain moveset (ironically, he’ll be able to jump all around the screen in Marvel VS. Capcom 3). The previously-mentioned streamlined elements, while taking some of the variety out of the game, allow for a quicker and less-disrupted game path. Thankfully, this speed up of gameplay is enhanced by the fact that, for the most part, puzzles are quickly solved. Sure, you have a fair amount of challenge, but there’s nothing that’s too imposing or aggravating: it’s a perfect balance of anger and acceptance.

The graphics remain largely unchanged since 2008’s title. Sure, Rad’s got a rad new moustache, but the game still has that downloadable-title feel. Levels are largely blocky and feel as if they could have been made in a level editor, with the Challenge Rooms being purely indicative of how there’s not much variety to the level feel. Of course, each has it’s own style (jungle, docks, etc.), but nothing memorable is brought to the table. Additionally, outside of the jump and some other changes, the game plays much like the original did, and even with less variety in some cases.

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is a decided challenge for the modern gamer, and a lovely trip to the past for the retro gamer. This is not the easiest game around, but it earns it’s downloadable price point. Despite the fun the game is, it doesn’t offer too much more over it’s previous iteration, and at times feels like an expansion pack. If you found the first title fun but aggravating, the second one should fix any issues you had.

Bullet Points

  • Streamlined gameplay
  • Jumping comes late to the game
  • Bland visual style is forgettable

Final Score: 8 of 10

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