Have bionic arm, will grapple.
Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
July 22nd 2008
Capcom has been on a franchise revival run lately, from the true successor Street Fighter 4, to the 8-bit nostalgia known as Mega Man 9. The new Bionic Commando is neither, taking the most interesting mechanics of the NES version and taking full advantage of the advancements in console hardware since that release.
So you can jump. The developers, GRIN, actually tried hard to keep the jump out of the equation to remain true to the original, but when fun battles with authenticity, fun wins out every time. The swinging mechanic puts the best of Spider-Man to shame, becoming flexible and intuitive, where you can latch onto virtually any surface and use your heave of momentum to navigate this ruined land. It's as easy as holding down the left trigger, tapping A to reel yourself in, and even applying a hard kick to your enemies. The short delay for the reel in, however, was a bit annoying.
Gunplay is also a little weak at the moment. It feels like you need to get too close to hit anything, and the zoomed-in view makes it too hard to swing (defeating the purpose of a hulking metal arm). The pistol and machine gun lack punch, though the rocket launcher is a heavy-duty powerhouse. Anyone who played Lost Planet will find the run-and-gun vaguely familiar. Progression is fairly linear through set stages, though each possesses plenty of freedom in where to set your swing and come down hard on your enemies. With a bulky bionic arm, water is a hazard, though there is no falling damage to discourage players from risking and reaching for that high swing.
Multiplayer wasn't on display, but it promises to be a sixteen-player grapple fest, tossing enemies, cars, and crates into the air with the enthusiasm of Dr. Octopus after a bender. The environments are fairly gorgeous, often chock full of ruined detail, with plenty of jutting ledges and broken tram lines to grapple onto. Animation is fluid and there's a definite feeling of weight behind your character as you break off a swing to come stomping down hard on these poor soldiers. With only a small taste it's hard to judge this work in progress, but considering how utterly perfect Bionic Commando: Rearmed turned out, I have faith GRIN will have this well-polished prior to release.