Video Game DEMO-lition: BIONIC COMMANDO REARMED 2, more

Video Game DEMO-lition: BIONIC COMMANDO

Just two demos this week, but once again, they're pretty big ones. How does the "rearmed" formula continue into a second installment? And is it still "Fight Night" for EA? Find out below!

Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 (Xbox Live Arcade)

Of the pair of Bionic Commando games released in 2009, it wasn’t supposed to be the downloadable 1988 NES game with a fresh coat of paint that outshone the big budget current-gen console release, but that’s exactly what happened, and that new classic title is the one that earned a sequel. The demo for Rearmed 2 starts with short cut-scene that helps bridge the gap between first game and the jarring continuity break that was the major release then lets you play though the first stage up to (but not including) the first boss. En route to the abbreviated end, the game shows off the two biggest new features: ‘bio-vision’ that detects hidden items and, in a first for the side scrolling Bionic Commando games, the ability to jump. While this ‘innovation’ will go a long way to demystifying the game for a lot of new players and get them through the first critical hours of gameplay, it ultimately cheapens the experience, making Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 more like a generic side scrolling actioner. The controls also feel a bit stiff, making what should be graceful swinging action feel belabored. Visually the game boasts the same 2.5-D visuals that the previous title did, though the choice of the dark, rainy first stage is an extremely poor one that obscures important details like the locations of explosive drums and latch points for your bionic arm. On the other hand, the energy delivered by the marshal/house music combo soundtrack continues to impress. Despite the missteps, and the inclusion of the lead character in the upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Capcom’s commitment to this old-school franchise is commendable.

Fight Night Champion (Xbox Reatil)

EA is trying something new with their boxing sim franchise and they are doing all they can to get that point across. The demo boasts multiple videos of the game’s new and revised features, including one for the revised “Full Spectrum Punch Control” scheme that has all the different types of punches mapped to directional flicks of the right analog stick. One video is about the deepened career mode that now features the need to schedule out your boxer’s year, a skill upgrade/perk system and the ability to form an online stable of fighters with your friends and compete in tournaments as a group. However, the most interesting feature video is for Champion Mode, which plays out the game framed as a boxing movie storyline, filling the time between fights with family/relationship drama and a plot about the shady characters that inhabit the sport behind the scenes.

Once you are finished watching the commercials, a bit of gameplay is also offered: a three-round bout between heavyweight legends Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali or welterweight contenders Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. Visually the boxing is very impressive, the fighters look not-too-creepily lifelike, and there is little to no clipping of boxer’s arms into their own bodies or their opponents that’s plagued boxing games in the past. In fact the way arms tangle when the fighters trade blows at close range is worthy of special mention, but the spray of white dots representing sweat flung from a punched face hampers the overall illusion. The multitude of punching and movement options make the controls complex to the point where some buttons are pressed into double duty but are still arranged in a way that they don’t require to many finger tangling maneuvers. The revised “Full Spectrum Punch Control” works better than the complicated analog stick maneuvers from versions past, though the way it queues up punches takes some getting used to. The fights are played out side-by-side, punching left or right is in the default configuration split vertically, counter-intuitively making punching with the left hand performed by pushing the stick away from your opponent. With the sound, EA has performed its usual maneuver of licensed music and a pair of commentators that do a good job keeping up with the action as well as cleverly making references to the ‘storyline’ of the fight. The demo also supports local and online play, but for the latter, only among your friends list.

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