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Binary Domain Review (Xbox 360)

Game Review: Binary Domain
Release: February 28, 2012
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter
Developer: Yakuza Studio
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Players: 1 (2-10 Multiplayer Online)
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Website: Binary Domain Homepage

 

Sega has been at the forefront of the trend of taking some of the design choices and gameplay found in Western games and bringing them to the East, and with Binary Domain, Sega may have gotten close to succeeding in their quest. Binary Domain is set in a world where robotics have become widely used, and the fear of losing our humanity under the wave of technology is a constant threat. The game starts with an incident at one of the two major robotic companies that has revealed a brand new threat on the horizon, in the form of “hollow children,” which are perfect doppelgangers that are not aware that they’re even robots. This revelation is what brings you and a rag-tag group of military soldiers to Japan in an effort to infiltrate its heavily guarded boarders and get to the bottom of this mystery.

As the player, you’re put in the shoes of Dan “Survivor” Marshall who is one half of a military duo from America, with the other half being a loud mouthed heavy gunner named Big Bo. You’re both tasked with getting past the endless waves of robotic defenders that now guard the outer walls of Japan’s borders. On your way to the headquarters of the Amada Corporation you meet up with the rest of your international group, as well as a few other characters that choose to take up your mission. As your party fills, you are tasked with either satisfying their ideals or upsetting them with cold hard truths they’d rather not hear. These relationships will affect how your team acts in battle, how the story plays out, and can even be affected by whether you accidentally shoot them too frequently during firefights.

When it comes to gameplay, the game is mostly played in third-person and will have you fighting off hordes of enemies while earning money to upgrade you and your team’s weapons and the perks given by your nano-machines. You are also given the ability to toss out orders to your crew that will help you flank enemies, regroup, or have them focus their fire on specific targets, all with the sound of your voice if you so please. The robotic enemies  are usually best beat by first incapacitating them by shooting off limbs, and then finishing them off while they’re on the ground, which reminded me a lot of Dead Space’s strategic amputation gameplay. As you riddle your enemies with bullets you will see their outer armor chip away giving you better access to their vulnerable inner workings. Along with hundreds of regular humanoid robots to atttack, you will also be faced with large robotic monstrosities that will take your whole team to overcome.

I had a lot of fun with the shooting in Binary Domain and without of a doubt this has been the strongest outing in Sega’s attempts to emulate Western shooters. While limited, the array of weapons all work well and have enough of a distinct feel to allow variety while tackling the different situations your team is faced with. The world that Binary Domain creates is absolutely fascinating, and I can easily see it spawning books, movies, and comics that explore its rich fiction. Binary Domain’s barrage of constant moral questions serve as a rich tapestry that play quite a backdrop to the action movie feel that the rest of the game takes on.

My fascination with the overall story served a stark contrast to the poorly written and acted dialogue that soils what could have been an amazing peace of gaming fiction. The breakneck speed also works to the game’s detriment, as character’s “sentimental moments” seem unearned when the characters had only met hours prior, with most of their shared time being spent looking down the sights of a gun. Binary Domain’s RPG elements and squad commands worked as little more than filler added to lengthen the game; development time spent on this would have been better served by focusing on a larger armory of guns or armor choices. The ability to use your voice in the game rarely worked for me, and I’m guessing this was due to its reliance on mic support instead of utilizing the Kinect.

Overall, Binary Domain works as an exercise in setting your eyes on too many lofty goals and falling short just as you reach the cusp of success. I had a lot of fun with the game, and my curiosity of the mystery behind the “hollow children” kept me chugging through the story regardless of my lack of investment in the characters. This game is definitely worth a play-through, if only for the fact that putting eyes on the game may assure another game in the series that better serves the world it created.

+Inventive World
+Competent Shooting Segments
-Bad Writing And Dialogue
-Unearned Dramatic Moments

Final Score: 8 Out Of 10

*Disclaimer: Binary Domain does have multiplayer, but due to lack of online matches, writer felt it was not fair to judge the overall game with that in mind.

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