There is always that one game that you think would be one thing, but then is surprisingly different and is better than what you expected. Today’s game is a good example of that situation. It looks generic on the outside, but is actually more unique on the inside. This game is made by the team behind the Yakuza games, and yeah, on the outside it might look generic. You got the buff white guy, the big black guy with the big gun, the snobbish British guy, the uptight Asian girl, robots, themes of Blade Runner, Terminator, and other themes that we might have seen once before. However, Yakuza producer, Toshihiro Nagoshi puts his own spin on it and is much more investment-worthy than other shooters like Slant Six’s Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City or EA’s Syndicate. I am just going to get on with it and announce today’s review, Binary Domain. Again, you might think you have seen this before, but you really shouldn’t pass this up. Of course, the American gamer can be stupid and go with something more generic and unneeded like the two shooters I listed above or go with the overrated and slowly dying in popularity, Call of Duty series. Let’s begin, shall we?
The story of Binary Domain takes place in the future of 2080 where years earlier, the earth was flooded and humans were required to make robots who could help put human society back together. Now robotic technology has gone to incredible lengths. One day however, a human shows up to attack the founder of an American robotics company, but then turns out to be a robot with human skin called a Hollow Child. America catches wind of this and sends out a squad known as Rust Crew who is specialized in handling these situations. You play as an American Rust Crew member named Dan Marshall, voiced by Travis Willingham. You accompany another American Rust Crew member named Roy Boateng, voiced by Alem Brhan Sapp, two British Rust Crew members named Charles Gregory and Rachael Townsend, voiced by Troy Baker and Nayo Wallace, a Chinese female member named Faye voiced by Laura Bailey, and a French robot named Cain, voiced by John Devito. Of course, things go to hell and unexpected things happen. On the outside, it sounds very generic and predictable. However, it is actually much more interesting than you would think. Due to the Consequence mechanic shown throughout the game, everyone can either live or die depending on how much they trust you, meaning multiple endings. This story alone is one of the biggest surprises of 2012, but there are those little clichés in the character stereotypes.
The gameplay is a squad-based shooter and is rather unique, something that Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City can never hope to achieve. The uniqueness comes from, again, the Consequence mechanic. Throughout the game, what you say or do will change your teammate’s opinion about you. Stay in a room too long to shoot an endless horde of robots? They will look down on you. Say something they like? They will trust you and become closer to you. They will both obey your commands, like fire, retreat, regroup, or charge, or just ignore your commands and do whatever. This is vital that you gain their trust since the robot enemies sent after you are very aggressive and are tougher to take down than you would think. Instead of being just a stale shooter where you just shoot and get done with it, the shooting mechanics take more elements from games like Dead Space. You can shoot off the appendages of robots to gain better points or even use it as a tactical advantage. For example, you are in a room filled with robots and you are only with two other allies and you’re taking heavy fire, shoot off a robot’s head and it won’t be able to tell you from its allies and will start shooting at them. Want to wipe out a horde of enemies to just get some breathing room? Shoot off their legs and force them to crawl at you. Points that you gain from shooting down the robots can be spent on weapons, upgrades to you, your allies, and said weapons. There is a good length to this shooter, running about 10 hours or so. That’s amazing since most shooters can be beaten in 4 hours, which is pitiful and shameful that developers think they can do that. There are the typical multiplayer modes like team Deathmatch, capture the flag, survivor, and a horde mode, but it’s unique if a bit unbalanced. Though as I typed this review, I couldn’t find a whole lot of multiplayer rounds to play, due to Mass Effect 3’s fun multiplayer or some other multiplayer-centric games taking up the spotlight when they didn’t deserve it. Overall, Binary Domain is a solid package in the single and multiplayer experience, but it could use some polish and uniqueness in the multiplayer section if they decide to make a sequel.
The graphics are slick, clean, and amazing. I think it’s running off on the same engine the Yakuza PS3 games run off on, and the slickness of the robots and characters look great. There is a lot of variety, so unlike Operation Raccoon City or Syndicate, you will not be bored with the same place for long. The voice acting is rather enjoyable if a bit goofy at times. Then again, you have to have a little fun when you have a robot with a French accent fighting by your side. The music is very well done and is memorable. While it might not be God of War 3 or Castlevania Lords of Shadow amazing, the presentation is wonderful and looks better than the two obvious shooters I keep mentioning above.
So, this seems like the ultimate cyberpunk shooter, what could be wrong with it? Well, there are a few gripes that I have to mention that bring this game down. The first thing is the ally AI, this could be because of the Consequence system, but sometimes the ally AI can and will act dumb even if your trust level is high with them. Only a few rare times have they run out in front of me. I heard there were voice commands that you can say yourself if you play the Xbox 360 version with the Kinect, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of that (I played the PS3 version), but I hear it isn’t that good. The boss fights are frustrating as heck. They take up a lot of damage, and due to very aggressive enemy AI, you will be there for quite awhile trying to take quick strong shots at the giant robots. It’s a shame since this game is pretty balanced, but these boss fights can be a chore! Especially the final boss and the gorilla robot boss are great examples of bosses that are not fully polished, and take way too much damage. I also wish the multiplayer could have been more unique since the entire single player revolves around teamwork and the multiplayer feels unique in only a few areas. I just think there could have been more potentially creative multiplayer modes. When I say potentially unique modes, I mean like something along the lines of what Two Worlds 2 did. Yeah, Two Worlds 2 might not be the best example, but Binary Domain could have had team demanding missions in multiplayer. Have a separate storyline for multiplayer to cover incidences like Faye’s other two teammates or what the heck the other Rust Crew members were doing when they got separated. Don’t give us typical multiplayer modes that are there simply because they are popular due to games like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Overall, this is a very unique game and is sadly the hidden gem of 2012. Why? Because terrible shooters like Syndicate, Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City, and other big releases buried this game’s release when it deserves more respect than a lot of games this year. If you are interested in this game, go rent it from Gamefly or Redbox it. When the price lowers, I would recommend picking it up, simply for the enjoyable single player mode. I would really like to see a sequel to this game and I hope Sega can give the Yakuza team the funding for it. We need another trip through this cybernetic world of Binary Domain.
This game gets a solid 7 out of 10