Binary Domain Review

If only it were that easy. Honestly though, Binary Domain is a wonderful example of a lower profile game making a name for itself through polish and flare. Set in 2080, global warming and other environmental factors have led to mass flooding of the planet. As a result, the survivors of the flood were forced to build above the ruins. Naturally, there aren’t enough survivors so a company rises from the ashes and creates robot labor to rebuild the cities. In short order, the company rises to 95% share of the robotic market and becomes a superpower in the new world. 

All is going well until “Hollow Children” start showing up; that is, robots who look, act, speak like humans, but do not know they are actually robots. Their AI is so advanced, they have no idea of what they are. This goes against a newly formed Geneva rule, clause 21, in the ruling body that no robot can be made to pass for human. Enter the antagonist. Your team of “rust crew” is sent into Tokyo to bring the scientist, Amada, to justice at any cost. Along the way you are attacked by “scrap heads,” otherwise known as cannon fodder. They are robots armed with heavy weaponry sent to prevent you from completing your goal. 

Gameplay is fairly straightforward. Anyone with any sort of gaming background in recent years is instantly going to feel at home with the style of cover system used here. Cover IS a necessity in this game, without it, you shall be seeing the soft red glow of your death envelop the screen in no time. Your health does regenerate if you hide long enough, or rest between battle areas. However, if you are in the heat of battle and get knocked down below your health bar, you can call for a team mate to heal you, or heal yourself if you have a med pack. If you call for help, your teammates can start seeing you as weak, or incapable of helping yourself. Likewise, if you shoot them in the midst of battle, they will start eyeing you suspiciously. The controls are, again, reminiscent of all current gen shooters, no real surprises here. There is however one stand out gameplay feature, namely the voice control. While I was not able to test it, you do still “talk” to your team with the controller. During some interludes, you are asked questions and have to provide responses. 

How you choose to answer will determine how helpful your team is to you at any given time. You piss them off, and you can count on going it alone in the later battles. If you have a mic (or Kinect for the 360), then you have a much larger list of available responses and commands – in fact the game even tells you during the intro tutorial that your game play experience will be limited without a mic. In terms of commands, you can tell your team to fire, regroup, charge, or hold. You can’t assign your squad mates any specific location when sending them out sadly, with your choices limited to a series of generic commands. Be warned, though: you send them out to die so to speak and they will resent you. Your team doesn’t forget your actions, so watch what you say and do to them. In all honesty I didn’t feel limited without a mic, but the game certainly invites you to speak to it. If there was one complaint about the game play, it would be the character movement. It is a little twitchy. Often I found myself turning too much when navigating a corner, or having the screen rotate so fast you lose track of your squad. It’s a very minor issue though, and easily remedied by dropping the sensitivity down a notch. The action can get quite intense, so you will want to make sure you are in full control. 

Level design and sound is nothing unique, but still maintains a consistent level of refinement. There isn’t anything here you haven’t seen before or heard. Sound effects are solid, level design is linear corridor style, and the environments show a nice transition from the slummy underworld to the technology inspired cleanliness of New Tokyo. There’s also destructible environments that have multi-level buildings. In some instances it is required to be above a boss during one of the epic battles, and the sense of scale of these battles is truly awesome and the environments play well into these segments. Don’t expect anything new with the textures and scenery, but rather expect a world that is fully realized in HD glory and is above all, almost believable.

Once the campaign has tied up, there’s a full multiplayer mode to get into. Standard ‘been there, done that’ modes are all accounted for: Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are all here — as well as Invasion Mode, which allows up to four players to battle through wave after wave of consecutive enemy patrols from the single player campaign. While the diversity of the available modes is nice, it is ultimately crippled by poor MP maps and no real ranking system. What would have been ace is an online co-op for the main game. I can’t imagine how this was overlooked, as the whole time playing I kept thinking, this is a perfect fit for online co-op. Shame, something so obvious being overlooked in an otherwise stellar game.

In the end you are entering into a game that achieves a goal not commonly found in titles this gen. Witty, well spoken dialogue, an engaging storyline (if not a little cheesy), and the perfect blend of difficulty mixed with action. Even on low difficulty with aim assist this game provides a challenge to newcomers to 3rd person shooters. For those seasoned vets, pump up the difficulty and disable assists and you are in for a treat!



The Final Word

Even on low difficulty with aim assist this game provides a challenge to newcomers to 3rd person shooters