Preview by Gabriel Jones (Email) February 14th 2012
In a genre as packed to overflowing as the third-person shooter it's hard to imagine why anyone should be excited about Binary Domain. Are we looking at the next Vanquish? Or maybe this is just going to be the next everything else? Believe me, I'd name names if I could remember any of them. There are some things we just won't know until the end of the month rolls around, since that is when Binary Domain will be hitting stores.
So let's start with what we do know. Binary Domain is the latest game by the team behind the Yakuza series. While those games carried some semblance of reality (aside from the upcoming zombie-themed Dead Souls), Domain's interest is in the far future. In the year 2080, it seems that not only has mankind perfected the development of an artificial being, but they've also convinced it that it's actually human . . . or not. Japan has become a man-versus-machine battlefield and all hopes lie on your squad. It's not all I, Robot rejects either, as there are a number of other insane creations that were explicitly designed to kill. Apparently there will be well over four hours worth of cut scenes. If the Yakuza games are any indication this will be a story worth following.
Unlike other squad-based shooters where your friends could join in the fight, Binary Domain's story mode is single-player only. Success is therefore determined by how you treat your squadmates, both in and out of battle. Your responses can change their behavior, how they respond to your commands, and their overall opinion of you. Obviously you're going to want a team that performs admirably under any circumstance, or you can push everyone away and take on challenges entirely by yourself. Also, by using a mic such as your Xbox 360's headset, you can issue orders through your voice and your squad mates will respond appropriately. They're likely to comment on other things you say, too, so try to keep away from the lewd talk and expletives. Oh and for crying out loud, don't shoot at them.
While your adversaries are mecha, they're more than just the "humans with more hit points" that tend to appear in similarly styled shooters. Soldiers are unique in that although their limbs can be shot off they're liable to continue the fight as long as they can pick up a gun or crawl to your position to set off an explosive. You can even turn the tables slightly by destroying their heads, since that can sometimes cause them to start firing at their allies. As one would expect, the bosses are heavily armored yet also have numerous weak points. How you go about destroying them is up to you and your vast arsenal of upgradable weaponry.
Binary Domain will also include a slew of modes outside of the campaign. There is the traditional multiplayer as well as a four-player cooperative mode known as "Invasion." The competitive modes consist of team deathmatch, free-for-all, domain control, data capture, operation, and demolition. The multiplayer aspect of this game is also class-based. The five classes are defined by their maneuverability and weapon load-out. Furthermore, they can be customized through points earned in multiplayer games. It's familiar territory for fans of the genre.
What is perhaps the most concerning aspect of Binary Domain is how the game actually plays. From the time that I've spent with the recently released Japanese demo, I have to say it's pretty dang good. The controls have just the right feel, the weight and feedback of the guns is satisfactory, and the few battles available are quite fun. I'm very confident about this game, certainly more-so than when it was first announced.
Binary Domain certainly holds a lot of promise in its every aspect, and "promise" is one word that I've never been fond of. Still, this game is shaping up to be something special, and whether good or bad I'm really excited about the results.