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Bionic Commando Rearmed Review

27 August 2008

How often have you heard the word “remake” and cringed? Most likely more than you’d care to remember. It’s been 20 years since Capcom first released Bionic Commando for the original NES, and it's making a return in the form of a PlayStation Network download. While remakes often cause indescribable disappointment, Bionic Commando Rearmed finds itself in a league of its own -- in a good way. Where others have failed, Capcom has undoubtedly delivered a near perfect remake that will please even the most ardent of fans.

BCR has kept all of the original's core aspects intact. You’re still given the responsibility of taking Nathan “Radd” Spencer on a journey to save Super Joe and prevent the resurrection of “The Leader” (who may or may not be Hitler). What sets Radd apart from the rest is his bionic arm. Radd’s arm is what gives the title, which falls somewhere between Contra and old-school Mario, a unique hook in the saturated side-scrolling genre.

For those of you that are unaware, your bionic arm includes a multitude of functionality. Not only are you able to swing from section to section, but you are also capable of deflecting enemy fire, picking up objects/enemies, as well as upgrading the device in order to turn it into the ultimate weapon. Radd is also equipped with several other weapons such as a rocket launcher, machine gun and my personal favorite, the vector cannon (allows you to ricochet bullets) While this may seem as though you are given a somewhat unfair advantage, the arm isn’t as simple to grasp as you may initially perceive - quite the contrary, in fact, as it takes some time to truly master everything this handy tool has to offer.

One of the biggest complaints that a few gamers may have with the title is the absence of a jump button. While I can appreciate and understand this complaint, BCR would quite simply lose its entire appeal if a jump button were added. The entire game revolves around the ability and skill that you display with your bionic arm. Conveniently for PlayStation 3 owners, the device has been designed specifically for use via the DualShock 3/SixAxis directional pad, which as you are probably aware, is considered among the best of its kind in this generation of consoles.

As a result, the accuracy of d-pad allows players to swing diagonally, vertically and horizontally more precisely without error. This is particularly handy when traversing the game's world map, where a wrong move may trigger an otherwise avoidable battle. The world map itself is navigated by way of helicopter, with the terrain patrolled by enemy vehicles. Coming into contact with hostile vehicles on your way to certain destinations will trigger a decidedly annoying top-down enemy confrontation.

As I’ve pointed out, the bionic arm is what drives this game, thus it being rendered almost useless during the top-down enemy encounters can cause the game to become exceedingly dull and repetitious. In these battles your goal is always the same; get to the anti-aircraft gun, destroy it, and your helicopter will pick you back up to continue your journey. There are three different levels for this portion of play with each one determined by the area of map where the encounter occurred. The true downfall of this section of the game is the fact that it is incredibly easy. You’re forced to play through it several times throughout the game, which results in the only true disappointing part of the entire package.

If you happen to have played the original Bionic Commando, you’ll no doubt aware of how simplistic the boss battles proved, requiring little in the way of strategy or skill to vanquish. Fortunately, Capcom realized this and have subsequently revamped the bosses for BCR. Radd is now forced to utilize his bionic arm appropriately if he hopes to stay alive and progress through the game. Unfortunately, there are only two to three bosses in total and they’re shuffled accordingly. This leaves a lot of variety to be desired. A couple of other small changes that were made to the title involve Radd’s health now being turned into a bar and the fact you have unlimited continues.

Capcom’s largest addition to BCR is the multiplayer aspect of the game. Two-player offline co-op has been added to the title and is available to be played throughout the entire game. The only significant difference between the solo playthrough and the co-op is the actions your enemies take, as soldiers play and act differently depending on how many players are within the game. The same situation takes place for boss battles as well. Four-player battles have also been added to BCR and they’re decidedly lacklustre to say the least. There are three modes of play on offer: Deathmatch, Last Man Standing and Don’t Touch the Floor. While the first two are easy to guess, Don’t Touch the Floor is the most entertaining, requiring each player to attempt to knock the others off the map in order to win. However, despite its entertainment value, it is ultimately nothing more than a gimmick with little staying power.

Fortunately, Bionic Commando Rearmed displays stunning visuals and sound for a PlayStation Network title. Backdrops are vibrant and superbly detailed, as are rudimentary effects such as explosions and other assorted goings-on within the game's action-packed stages. Without a doubt, BCR is definitely on par with some of the best-looking PSN titles available.

In conclusion, Bionic Commando Rearmed offers up a healthy dose of nostalgia and provides gamers with more than enough entertainment value for a generous asking price. For a measly $10, you can play one of, if not the best PSN titles currently available. I call that a steal.

-The Final Word-

Capcom delivers an absolute stellar remake in Bionic Commando Rearmed. Not only is this action-packed outing as great as the original NES release, Rearmed delivers an entirely revamped experience for this generation than only adds to its appeal.
  • Stunning visuals
  • Bionic Arm
  • Two-player co-op
  • Top-down portions are dull
  • No online co-op
9.5
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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