The Bionic Man
For the PC version of Bionic Commando
gameplay is where the good news starts and where we can grant Capcom a brief reprieve from the justified insults the needless complex and poorly-told story deserves.
is essentially a third person shooter just like any other third person shooter from the last few years. You run around 3D virtual spaces, capping baddies and jumping from platform to platform in your constant push towards the next level.
Like most other third person shooters set in demolished cities of recent times it has a romantic subplot where you have to find your missing wife. See Gears of War 2
There are a few things which set Bionic Commando
apart though – mainly the lack of a decent cover system and the addition of the bionic arm ability, which lets you swing through the skies like a robotic spiderman, albeit with a limited range. It’s this bionic ability that much of the game's plot and nuances are based around as you
swing about figuring new ways to use it to your advantage.
Deadly Blue Mist - it's the new fashion!
The Bionic Arm is an advantage you desperately need too – Nathan has apparently eschewed the idea of power armour in favour of a green vest and dreadlocks and has a handful of vulnerabilities that enemies are all to happy to seize on. Your metal arm makes you especially susceptible to electric attacks for example, though it also allows you to interface with enemy relays and find extra plot info throughout the game. Yay!
Most levels which don’t have a specific ‘find this’ or ‘kill that’ objective generally involve finding these relays and deactivating the electric floating minefields so you can carry on to the next area.
Electric floating minefields. We’d say ‘you couldn’t make this stuff up’, but it honestly only remind us how true we wish that statement were. Unfortunately though, someone did
make it up and then managed to convince someone else to make it into a game which we would then be forced to play.
Sniping is way easier with a mouse, obviously
The good news though is that, wheras using your bionic arm on the console versions of the game was a tricky task (and navigating said minefields was impossible), on the PC it works just fine. The range of your bionic arm still feels a little bit
short at times, but that just adds an extra level of tension when you jump off a building and try to latch on to a roadsign as you fall.
It’s a fundamental and expected change to the way Bionic Commando
controls, but being able to use a mouse and keyboard to target enemies makes a COLLOSAL difference to the game and further goes to prove that yes, PCs are just plain better
. Swinging around on the console version was more difficult than trying remove a splinter from your eyeball would be if you had a clunky bionic arm like Nathan’s. On the PC version it feels much more natural and satisfying – like using said bionic arm to punch hippies or rescue kittens.
Granted, the swinging mechanic still has problems. There’s still that strange lack of momentum which means that you always swing at the same speed and to the same height, but at least you aren’t constantly falling to your death. Those low-res blue radiation clouds still fence you in, but now at least you can move past them a lot faster and being able to aim so much quicker even means that you can usually save yourself before you tumble into a pool of water and drown, meaning you don’t get constantly bumped back to the irritating far-apart checkpoints. Yay!