Binary Domain is a little known third-person shooter that came out early last year (2012). Although not well publicised, the game helped to rekindle my love of Third Person Shooter games such as Gears of War, Army of Two and of course Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption.
The game is set in 2080, following a ‘Rust Crew’, an international crew of soldiers banded together to fight against ‘Amada’. Amada is a Japanese robot firm that has started to create ‘Hollow Children’, Humans who do not realise they are actually made on a robot exoskeleton, in the midst of a Civil War in Japan (jeez you can tell this game was made and produced in Japan, for the Japanese). Although a good idea, the team are later introduced to a French Rust Crew (kind of kills the point of being an international crew…), which consists of just two members. You play as First Sergeant Dan Marshall, a lower class Nebraskan, who hates Scrapheads (which is his affectionate nickname for Robots), more than anything, later revealed to be due to a Robot standing by and watching his Mother get beaten by his drunken redneck Father. Other members of the team include stereotypical Brit and former Mi-6 ‘team douchebag’, Charlie, what seems to be his androgynous piece of arm candy, Rachel, stereotypical African-American, Big Bo, as well as stereotypical Chinese farm girl and as such the hand-to-hand expert (as well as later love interest for Dan) Faye and, finally, stereotypical French Robot, Claude, or Jean, or something similar … I forget. It’s probably something typically French (research tells me it’s Cain).
Some functions of the gameplay are exceptional; others not so. The bosses in this game provide some of the most fun I’ve had in a TPS. They provide the player with tough opposition and a lot of fun, unless you’re being ground and pounded like a UFC fighter *cough, Gorilla and Jaguar in particular…* which can both be entertaining and annoying. They often come in animal form, as the aforementioned Gorilla and Jaguar suggest, being joined by the Spider (first boss you encounter and perhaps the most fun) and an Octopus/Plant thing that you climb up and shoot the tentacles off of. The bosses reflect a reasonable step up from the normal robots and the height and size of them do not disappoint. Among the normal robots, we have a decent number of variations. The white are plain pawns, defeat in huge numbers, black seem to be the robots trained as ninjas, red reflects the more close quarters robots with others to boot.
The weapons system of the game has a nice upgrade mechanic, simply stop at one of the many shopping booths in the Tokyo subway system and see if you’ve got enough currency. What I particularly liked about this though, was that you could also upgrade the guns of your crew, as well as buy “nanopacks”, which would improve a teammate’s health regeneration rate for example. These touches really improved the game and gave them a unique take, but the fact that you couldn’t switch the type of main gun became a bit of a drag. I understand why the developers, Sega, did this – I would be frustrated that I’d upgraded a gun that I would then hardly use, but an idea would have been to allow the player to choose his first-choice gun rather than an assault rifle being the only option.
The game employs a voice control system, similar to that of SOCOM, controlling the team with various voice commands, such as fire, cover me, etc, (the basics of warfare) although it does give the option just to press instead. I tried this system, thinking it would be a good idea to become closer to the situation; however, the voice recognition was poor. At times, I would be just wearing the headset, when it would pop up saying “f**k” or “run”, when I hadn’t actually said anything, or wouldn’t recognise my call of “help”, meaning I would bleed out. In truth it’s a great idea, it’s just a shame about the execution, even though the game prided itself on being “able to understand 6 languages, perfectly”.
Normally this wouldn’t matter, the game’s use of the trust system, or Consequence System, meant that these times of swearing, or wrong answers, meant I would lose trust, which could have led to me having fewer team-mates for the final showdown. The other problem was when you had more than one teammate in your squad, as there was no ability to split the commands. For example, I wanted Big Bo to charge, whilst Faye covered, but instead had them both charge headfirst towards a mechanical Gorilla that pounded them into the ground and cost me two health packs.
Binary Domain is a game I wouldn’t have even thought about buying. Heck, I didn’t even know that it existed until my brother bought it as part of a 3 for £20 deal at Game (where you can grab some seriously good old titles, by the way). I can’t stress though, just how much I enjoyed playing this game – there’s nothing quite like a good shooter, especially when you’re shooting at robots. The plot is a bit silly at times and a bit predictable, but the bosses make up for this lack in writing and overall Binary Domain is a game well worth picking up.