We have all been there. Played the latest releases to death, exhausted multiplayer after hearing too many whiny voices over Xbox Live, and bought and completed every DLC possible (even that Horse Armour for Oblivion that you are rather embarrassed that you ever thought was worth any money at all) .Traipsing through the internet and having a look for a few games to pass the time until the next AAA title graces your disc tray. Most of these are average at best, and will gladly tick you over, with the odd good idea to titillate your senses and allow you to ignore the fact that you aren’t really having that much fun. Binary Domain is the only game that I can think of that was played in one sitting and that I wanted to play again straight off the bat, even though the ins and outs of the games typically Japanese story were now no longer a surprise to me. DmC and Borderland 2 took a backseat due to the fact that I was so captivated. Binary Domain was criminally overlooked, sold rather poorly and the likelihood of a sequel seems to be off the cards. So, as we near the new generation of consoles , which is likely to hit our social lives lives and wallets once again, here is four reasons why you should make sure that Binary Domain gets a chance to show its wonders before this very long console generation ends with a bang.
1) Theme- or how robots can be awesome without the mention of Skynet
Its 2080 and robotics have become more advanced than even the director of I, Robot could imagine. They are everywhere in everyday life and have become so important that there is now a UN organisation that makes sure that the boundaries between robots and humans are not pushed. Global warming has screwed over most of the world and cities now sprawl high up into the sky over what remains of the old flooded areas that now house each countries poor. As usual, a brilliant scientist goes a little bit too far and manages to create ‘Hollow Children’; robots that are almost indecipherable to humans,and the robots are completely unaware that they are anything but human . One of these robot/humans goes crazy and attacks one of the top robot facilities in America leading to an undercover operation by the UN to take out the head of the Amada Corporation in New Tokyo, Japan; the only company that has the capabilities to build such technology. Cue a more entertaining version of the A- Team as Dan (one of the most generic names for a hero ever) and his multinational team seek out a way to bring Amada to justice as soon as possible whilst having to contend with the most advanced robotic fighting force on the planet. The theme balances well between sci-fi and the fact that elements of it aren’t necessarily far off as automation becomes more and more of our daily lives.
2) Storyline- or how one game manages to throw in massive boss fights and weapons ,alongside ethics, and doesn’t come out as a awful mix of Michaels Moore and Bay.
Binary Domain feels a lot like Mass Effect in terms of the ability to build your team and tailor a 3 man squad to your liking. The best part of the whole experience is how, rather than adding in po-faced stereotypes to try and provide a ‘serious’ tone, Sega embraces comic value in the very same stereotypes. The Americans are loud and brash, the British sound like a mix of The Queen and Jason Statham, the Chinese are whimsically called rice farmers and the most competent Frenchman happens to be a robot that was made by an American company, and the games knows that is doing that. The added plus is they are all likeable without ever being paper thin caricatures. Developing characters and actually promoting the exchange of jokes and jibes makes your team infinitely more relatable, taking elements of the Mass Effect series without delving too much into the RPG elements. Further kudos goes to how well the game manages to envelop every type of ethical problem that is associated with robots without feeling like you are being preached too. Is it right for robots to be destroyed on the spot if they never knew they were anything other than human? Should the rest of the worldwide community attack a closed off country on a hunch rather than real evidence? Heck, there is even time to delve into ‘Frankenstein syndrome’, where the creator realises what they have created is far better than themselves and thus is a threat and must be destroyed. Camaraderie is common place in almost every area of shooters in the gaming market at present ,whereas very few bother focusing on the moral quagmire that your actions are based on, I wouldn’t regard Mass Effect as a traditional shoot em up by any stretch, with Spec Ops: The Line perhaps the only other game that shares this idea..
Shooting enemies tends to be fun, with most shoot em ups failings coming down to the situation when you pile tons of bullets into one enemy and they flinch as if they have had a minor paper cut. In Binary Domain, every bullet feels and shows that it is doing damage. Destroy the legs off any robot and they crawl to attack you, shoot their arms off and they are unable to use their guns, blow off their heads and they treat anything in the nearby surroundings as an enemy, including your enemy. It manages to pull of the limb dismemberment that has been demonstrated so well in the Dead Space series but manages to translate it just as well, despite the lack of blood and guts. Thus every battle turns into a scope for a different situation; do you send your team mates in to distract the mini gun welding enemy at the back of the pack so you can kill him yourself or do you throw in a few grenades and hope for the best? It’s amazing how a linear shooter can feel like a sandbox in every scenario even despite the fact that there is still an element of chest high wall syndrome. Upgradeable weapons, inventive on rails sections that make you vulnerable and a bit of a bad ass at the same time, and God of War like bosses that take up the whole screen all fit into a genre that is very rarely praised for its inventiveness or ability to stray away from the ‘shoot, kill, move on, repeat’ routine.
4)Special features- or how swearing down a microphone at the AI is more fun than you think
As a hero in charge of a team, we completely disregard the loyalty of our team mates. Marcus Fenix can send his rag tag group in to as much danger as they want without question or any tangible repercussions . Dan and his team don’t work in the same way; by building relationships with the team, they follow your actions. Disregarding their opinions as stupid, sending them into the line of fire into a barrage of bullets for no gain and they begin to question your authority and start to ignore your commands. Binary Domain makes you focus on every shot you take as you are penalised with shooting, however accidental, one of your teammates during battle, which is refreshing, especially as other games seem to have somehow perfected bullets that kill enemies but don’t injure your own team without any explanation. Barking orders to said teammates has also never been so much fun, with the game registering your commands, obviously not from an extensive list, with the added ability to recognise the old swear word that we blurt out in the heat of the moment; another approach that allows you to connect with the universe in a tongue and cheek manner.
Sure the game isn’t perfect. There is some huge difficulty spikes throughout and some of the voice acting is pretty poor. Multiplayer essentially doesn’t exist as the game was criminally overlooked, and replay value is hampered by the lack of a New Game plus mode. But for anyone looking for an amazing package, and the closest we are ever going to come to a Vanquish sequel, then allow this hidden gem to grace your console; you will not be disappointed.