We didn’t like the original Bionic Commando – and by ‘original’ we no longer mean the old and impossibly hard 2D game from 1987, nor the retro remake of it released by Capcom recently. We mean the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of this game, which came out a few months back.
So, yes, we didn’t like that game. It was awful. The characters were almost offensively unlikeable, the story was the worst type of pseudo-political (but really completely trite) rubbish and the gameplay was ruined by poor physics and fenced-in level design.
That was for the console version though and, while we didn’t actually expect anything to be improved for the PC release of the game, it turns out that it’s actually an entirely different kettle of fish. Kind of, anyway. There’s now some tasty mullet in that kettle that might make the PC release a slightly tempting dish, but there’s a fair few red herrings too. Or, to put it in non-complex metaphor form; the PC version has some stuff that makes it better than the console version - though a lot of annoying stuff stays the same too.
Yeah, yeah - it's what you do with it that counts
One of those things – and the one which we found intensely off-putting in the console version of the game – is the story. The plot of the game is completely unchanged and it’s still worse than a chilli-vodka eyewash. There's no new segments or missions in the PC version of Bionic Commando.
The star of the game is Nathan Drake, a bionic soldier on death row who cuts a deal with the man who put him in prison in order to get some info on a girl and to get the chance of escape. We think Nathan and his bionic arm are supposed to be sympathetic characters, because the opening of the game prattles on for ages about loads of political factions, their ill-thought out policies and how Nathan only wound up in the click after being betrayed by the government. There’s a lot of talk about FSA, Imperials, BioReign and so on – it’s clear that the writer behind the game has a case of Metal Gear Solid syndrome.
I'm just hangin'. What you up to?
The story itself is only half the problem though and, like most gamers, we’d probably be willing to sit through all the acronyms, pseudo-jargon and boring backstory if only it was delivered properly (see any BioWare RPG for proof of that).
In Bionic Commando though, it isn’t delivered well. The characters are all bafflingly angry and rude, shouting boring and nonsensical abuse at each other all the time over the intercom. Nathan, voiced by Faith No More’s Mike Patton, hurls tedious insults at his victims too – the type of thing we thought went out of fashion back when SiN flopped. The supporting and equally forgettable cast keep phoning you up and pushing you into insult-fights too, but without the interactivity, intelligence or any other favourable comparisons from Monkey Island.
It makes it impossible to escape from the idiocy and personality deficit of the main characters, even after you’ve sat through all the opening sequence and loading screens – which also takes ages and really just obscures the main draw and function of the gameplay; that it’s Spiderman with guns.
And here comes the good news…or as good as it gets anyway...