I felt a lot of anger while playing Binary Domain. A lot of it was brought on by the shoddy PC port, clunky controls, terrible friendly A.I. and nausea inducing voice acting but part of it was also directed at the game’s wasted potential. If not for the nuisances mentioned above, Binary Domain would have been this year’s sleeper action hit but as it stands, it’s nothing more than an average game with good ideas bogged down by terrible execution.
In the near future, humanity has been devastated by floods and since technology has evolved to great extents, certain companies are capable of manufacturing robots that can help humanity rebuild itself. However one Japanese company has more sinister plans up its sleeve and so the United States sends in a Rust Crew to Japan to investigate the corporation. You are a part of that Rust Crew. You then find out they’re creating Hollow Children, robots programmed to believe they’re human which is kind of cool and messed up at the same time.
Binary Domain’s plot is actually quite interesting and the way Hollow Children react upon finding out that they aren’t actually human is disturbing and eerie. The game could have continued down that dark path but instead it felt the inane need to dumb down itself with cocky, loud-mouthed, muscle bound characters who obviously have to make a lot of stupid jokes and obvious observations along the way. Worst of the lot is your partner Big Bo who constantly feels the need to validate his friendship with you. Not only does Bo come across as a pretty needy guy but his taunts can become unbearable after a while.
The rest of your crew consists of clichéd characters such as the brash British dude who isn’t too fond of the way Americans love blowing stuff up, the hot silent yet deadly Chinese operative, the extremely masculine looking lady who loves blowing stuff up and the French robot who loves sprouting French phrases in the midst of battle. Ok so I haven’t seen a French robot in games before but that doesn’t make him any less annoying.
That doesn't look good
Making matters worse is the fact is that you have to constantly mollycoddle these overgrown babies by agreeing with them through the game’s extremely broken voice communication system. The idea over here was to allow speech recognition into the game so you can issue commands over your headset instead of pointing and clicking at certain parts of the map. A solid idea that’s executed terribly. Even if you pronounce words like some literary student, the game just doesn’t understand them half the time. The only word I had no issue communicating was “Yes”. Other times I wouldn’t utter a single word and my character would randomly say “Damn” causing my peers to dislike me.
The whole reason you have all this neediness in this game is because developer Team CS1 desperately want you to build some sort of camaraderie with your team. The idea is that if they like you, they’ll really go all out on the battlefield while if you tick them off, they won’t be too supportive. Don’t worry though; no matter which route you choose, your squad is as useful as a bunch of bricks. Actually bricks are more useful because you can throw them at people. The best way to describe your squad would be comparing them to blood sucking ticks that just leech of you. They rarely come in use during battle but mostly always come in your way during a shootout. Of course, if you shoot them, they’ll quickly comment that they aren’t the enemy although I started thinking otherwise.
The game is essentially a by the numbers third person, cover based shooter so you’ll obviously spend a large amount of time hiding behind objects and shooting robots in the face. Now this aspect of the game works just fine but running and gunning becomes a bit cumbersome because of the game’s clunky controls. I understand your character is built like a tank but he really doesn’t have to control like one. The game also limits your FOV (Field of View) making navigation and surveying very annoying. These tactics are fine in a survival horror game but in an action game, they are kind of a deal breaker.
The worst section in this game
Once you get past the weird controls, gunplay actually becomes quite enjoyable thanks to the aggressive bots you’ll face through your campaign. They’ll come in different shapes and sizes and even if you blow their legs or hands off, they’ll come at you like the Terminator till you pulverize their mechanical brains. Besides the hordes of gun toting minions, you’ll encounter gigantic boss fights some of which are more entertaining than the others. Running around a level fighting a giant spider, struggling to blow his legs out with a rocket launcher is fun but trying to lock onto a flying gunship that constantly assaults you with homing rockets isn’t. And it really doesn’t help that your teammates constantly get in the way or you flop all over the map dropping your weapon when hit by rockets. The checkpoint system in this game is also quite erratic. Sometimes it kicks in appropriately but most of the time, it makes you replay painful sections like the one where you’ll be controlling highly unresponsive jet skies against a barrage of enemy fire.
In between all the action, the game lets you explore certain civilian hubs but these segments are just as frustrating because for reasons we don’t really understand, your character is made to walk painfully slow during these sections. It takes ages to just explore your surrounding and without any side-quests to tackle, exploration feels unnecessary. Once you’re done with the campaign, you can head online but you really shouldn’t because no one and I do mean no one is playing this game online (at least on the PC). I had to fire up the horde mode by myself just to test it out and it really wasn’t too much fun.
So now you see why Binary Domain got me angry. It pains me to see such anal gameplay mechanics ruin what could have been an enjoyable game. I can’t even say this game requires more polish because frankly speaking, it doesn’t. When it works, the game is a blast making you feel like you’re part of some slick Jerry Bruckheimer directed Sci-fi flick. But these moments are rare. Most of the time you’ll question the stupid decisions made by developer Team CS1 while a significant amount of time will also be spent dreaming of choking the life from Big Bo slowly till there’s nothing but silence.
Test rig box:
Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 - 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W
Published Date: May 08, 2012 09:34 am | Updated Date: May 08, 2012 09:34 am