Nathan ‘Rad’ Spencer (the Bionic Commando) is back!
After a period of over 20 years the first new game in the Bionic Commando franchise is about to be released.
In 1987 Capcom released Bionic Commando in the arcades. A year later, in 1988, Bionic Commando appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (and was subsequently ported to every 8 bit gaming system on the planet).
In 2008, GRIN produced Bionic Commando Rearmed (an updated remake of the original game) which sold 13,000 units in its first week on X360, PS3 and PC.
Now in 2009, GRIN are releasing Bionic Commando as a 3d game. They are keeping the bionic arm mechanics: swinging and picking up and throwing. They hope the move to 3d will provide an irresistible draw and revitalise the franchise for modern hardware.
Bionic Commando is coming to Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC in May 2009.
The Many Faces of Bionic Commando
Ten years after his defeat of the Imperials (see original Bionic Command) Nathan ‘Rad’ Spencer is in jail, betrayed by his government, sentenced to death for (of course) a crime he didn’t commit.
On the day of his execution terrorists detonate an experimental weapon in the heart of Ascension City, the capital city of the Federal States of America (FSA). The terrorists take control of the city’s defences and dig in.
There is only one way in – infiltration and assault by a Bionic Commando. Nathan ‘Rad’ Spencer is saved from execution only to find himself ‘reunited’ with his Bionic Augmentation and sent to Ascension City to find out what it is the terrorists are doing and (probably) to foil their plans.
Every part of the environment is said to be scalable using the bionic arm wire. You can swing, scale, climb and wall-walk wherever you like. (It will be interesting to see how they limit this for practical game design and flow reasons.)
The bionic wire will give Nathan incredible freedom of movement within each level and will allow the game designers to create rarely seen vertical challenges that will utilise the 3d space to the utmost. The concept art and screenshots promise an impressive scale to the whole environment – I’m looking forward to seeing just how well they succeed.
The Bionic Arm will also be used as a close combat weapon. You will be able to grapple pieces of scenery, pick them up and throw them at great bone-crushing velocity.
Your non-bionic arm will also hold an array of different weapons with different abilities. Machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, grenade launchers: you know, the usual kind of thing.
Bionic Commando Concept Art
The ruins of Ascension City is where Nathan Spencer must complete his mission. He will need to traverse different parts of the city to fulfill his goals.
Information about two stages has been released:
- Broken City – a downtown business district, utilising the new aesthetic and architecture for Ascension City, the jewel in the crown of the FSA. Now after the attack it is a mess of concrete and steel, collapsed buildings and shattered infrastructure. Perfect grounds for a guy with a bionic arm and the ability to swing and climb and jump all over the place. BioReign soldiers are the only living things in the Broken City and Nathan will have to fight his way through them.
- The Park – A green space within Ascension City. Used as a recreational area with immense natural beauty. After the bombing the environment changed, and the shifting geological structure created many fissures which fragmented the areas of greenery. Nathan will have to deal with pockets of BioReign soldiers here as he swings, Tarzan-like, through the trees.
The information about the officially released weapons:
- Bionic Arm – The bionic arm fully integrates with the host, allowing instant responses to the host’s brain signals. It has a 20m(65ft) grappling hook which allows the host to swing to move quickly and navigate difficult terrain, and scale anything. The strength of the grapple allows the host to pull loose terrain off to be used as weapons or shields and to lift and throw objects large distances. You may also punch and melee opponents and other objects.
- Steinmech M3-BC “Tungsten” - 4.62 caliber semi-automatic pistol
- Drayton AA-9 “Hiker” - 12.7mm/15.5mm semi-automatic weapon with armour penetrating rounds. One shot fires 9 rounds. 8 shrapnel shells and one armour-piercing slug.
- Flazhe AM-10 “Tarantula” - 15.2 kg SCARS rockets. Portable missile launcher. Can fire up to 6 rockets at the same time. It can lock and track 6 targets.
Also in the Multiplayer Demo (see Part 3) there are grenade launchers, shotguns, sniper rifles and other lovely ordinance. We’ll have to wait for the full game to get our hands on everything.
Bionic Commando Weapons
Information on four enemy types has been released:
- BioReign Grunt: More like soldiers than terrorists, they are made up of veteran members of the Imperial infantry or rogue TASC operatives.
- Standard Biomech: infantry suit. Mobile, armoured and carrying heavy weapons – a formidable foe. The rear armour may be their only weak point.
- Polycraft: Troop transport or heavily armed gunships – these air assault craft are versatile and maneuverable. Armour plating on the engine compartment is thin.
- Air Force Biomech: An infantry suit with jet engines that allows it to fly. The engines are vulnerable – but it will continue the fight as a Standard Biomech when grounded.
Bionic Commando Enemies
Bionic Commando Multiplayer Demo on Xbox 360 Live: Mini-Review
I was looking forward to playing this having read about the game and written about what to expect. Nowhere had I found any mention about the multiplayer aspects of the game.
I really enjoyed the umbilical and submerged ‘growth’ tank of the front end option screens. I enjoyed the attention to detail and this inserted me into the world of Bionic Commando better than I thought it could.
The demo consists of one map, a 5 minute timelimit and a deathmatch mode. So far, so known.
Each player is coloured in bright neon armour so they are relatively easy to spot. Particularly so, since their gamer tag is displayed predominantly over their head in the same neon shade.
The action takes place in 3rd person, which is a refreshing change from the usual 1st person deathmatch experiences. But you need the third person because of the Bionic Arm’s wire and the swinging mechanics.
You aim and point your reticule at any structure and then fire to become grapple connected to that structure. In this way you can swing and leap all over the level.
This means that the design of the level has many more vertical challenges. You must take care to watch above and below as you swing from one perch to the next in search of your quarry. It truly does become a three dimensional challenge.
You fire your bionic wire with the left trigger and move and control your swing with the left stick, move the camera in 90 degree segments with the d-pad, zoom by clicking the right stick, pickup weapons, melee with B and Y, jump with A and dodge and roll with the left bumper. All the while looking left and right, up and down, forwards and backwards for people to kill and people to evade.
It is manic and exciting but also forgiving enough to allow the player to start swinging and having fun almost immediately. Having said that, I feel the learning curve is steep enough to require a lot of practice and dedication to master the controls and become a proficient Bionic Commando.
It is a very different game from the original “Bionic Commando” and, indeed, last years “Bionic Commando Rearmed” – but still seems to keep some of the charm of the original too.
Bionic Commando Release Dates
Release dates for Bionic Commando on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3:
- United States 19th May 2009
- UK and Continental Europe 22nd May 2009
And for PC (if you are interested):
- United States 31st July 2009
- UK and Europe 29th May 2009