Games Review: Bionic Commando Rearmed

Review: Bionic Commando Rearmed

When Capcom decided to revive the decades old Bionic Commando, they chose to go on two fronts. An all-new 3D action adventure game would carry the name, but would in fact be a sequel to the original side-scrolling shooter on the NES. In addition, they turned to Swedish developer GRIN to take the old game, put a little polish on it, and re-release it through the current download services on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

GRIN took the job, and did quite a bit more than just put a little polish on it. Yes, this is essentially the same game as the original adventure. The updated graphics and sound, along with variable difficulty, challenge rooms, and a worldwide scoreboard make it feel like something brand new.

In short, this game is incredibly fun. It even goes beyond just fun and makes the case for older style games as a viable source of entertainment today. The controls are simple. There’s a button for firing, a button for shooting out your grappling hook, and you can run in either direction. With the grapple, you also swing and climb through levels that are often as vertical as they are horizontal. Your gun can be upgraded to several types of weapons and ammunition, with higher-end versions to be found throughout the game. With this simple formula of run, gun, swing, climb, a basic gamer can get through the game with relative ease on the “easy” setting, while an experienced gamer will have a difficult time on “hard.”

The graphics and sound have been updated to fit today’s technology. The graphics are gorgeous, giving a realistic 3D quality to the 2D game. The music is an updated version of the old soundtrack, using a bit more than the old-school midi. The hooks are catchy, and will stay with you for hours, even days. In fact, after playing, expect the music to start up in your head anytime someone says “bionic,” “commando” or just about anything else game related.

The story is cheesy, in a wonderful way. The same basic “HEY!” and other single-word exclamations are the only voice-overs, and the utter silliness of your villains makes it difficult to take anything too seriously. The game does offer hints at what may be story points in the upcoming sequel, which will likely offer a deeper tale. The demo of the game is worth playing prior to jumping into the game itself, just for the comedy of it all.

There’s a surprising depth to the simple mechanics, with interesting swinging, climbing, shooting combinations. Nevertheless, the game plays pretty quickly- don’t expect the basic game to take more than about 2-2.5 hours on easy, and not too much longer on the harder difficulties. There are, however, unlockable challenge rooms that will test the skills you build up throughout the game. These will infuriate, frustrate, and excite most players. Like gamers’ scores in the game, these are automatically shared online, comparing your score with the rest of the world’s point totals. As fast as the game plays, you’ll want to go back and find the secrets you may have missed the first time, and go for the ever higher score in the ever faster time. This gives a lot of replay value to the budget title. There’s also an option to play the story mode with a friend, with split screen activating if one of you falls behind, so the other isn’t stuck waiting. Other multiplayer modes traditional to first person shooters are included, as well, offering gamers a chance to show each other what they can do.

Bionic Commando Rearmed shows off in a big way. This could be a, pardon the pun, game-changer for the industry, as well. Previously, older games have been released exactly as they originally came out, using nothing but advanced emulators to play them on current consoles. With a successful reinvention of a classic, this game proves 2D games are still relevant, and that a lot of payoff can come from putting in the work to make an update instead of just re-releasing the old. This is a great game, whether it’s old or new for you. As one more bonus, having the game on your hard drive will unlock the old school look for Nathan Spencer in the upcoming sequel. Now, it’s time to see how fast I can beat this game again.

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