Robots, robots and robots, that’s what you’ll encounter in Binary Domain. I was slightly being dismissive of this game earlier, because it looked cheesy and undercooked, but boy, was I wrong! The game got hold of my attention and never let go until the end, due to the fantastic pacing that throws new setpeices, cutscenes, and splendid combat sections, so boredom never set in. The game has a Japanese flavour to it, and manages to get the basics right, which is one of the main things you’ll appreciate about this game.
At a first glance, when you look at the main protagonist, Dan, you’ll notice that he resembles roided Chris from Resident Evil 5 a lot, and automatically you will assume that this game might be a nightmare to control. But that’s where you’re wrong- Binary Domain’s controls are one of the best I’ve ever seen in a third-person shooter before. Yes, it’s up there with Vanquish, and the game also has a splendid cover system to complement it.
And you know what’s the best thing about this game? Shooting enemies is so damn satisfying. The running animations when you equip the handgun – and the punchy sound when you fire one – everything manages to blend in nicely, and that’s one of the things that this game does so well. You must have noticed that I’m mostly talking about the pacing and gameplay till now, and there’s a reason for that. No, I’m not saying that the story and other things are mediocre; they’re surprisingly quite good, but the main thing here is that I actually wanted to shoot enemies. It was fun, and after playing so many shooters this gen, not a lot of them managed to make me feel like that.
The story was actually gripping and interesting for me; I was actually felt surprised by that because it also feels so generic and clichéd. A ragtag group of soldiers who are on a mission in Japan to stop Amada Corporation, which is guilty of creating robots called the “Hollow Children”. The entire plot revolves around this, and there are a lot of twists here that will definitely surprise you. Hollow Children are basically robots who are programmed to think they’re human. They feel fear, pain and other emotions, and blend in nicely with the real humans. The problem is, such research is banned, and Amada has been charged guilty and needs to be stopped.
You play as Dan, who, like the other members in his group, doesn’t really have a solid personality, but mostly you’ll not notice this as you play the game due to the pacing which will keep you occupied with other things. Although, I have to say that Cain, a robotic squad member with a French accent, is undoubtedly the star of the show. There’s a big black guy with a muscular constitution called Bo, but he isn’t that stereotyped here, and is actually quite bearable.
The boss fights deserve a special mention as well. While they’re your standard shoot-weakpoint-to-kill type of enemies, the design and excecution can leave you completely satisfied when you take one down. You will encounter some gigantic and intimidating bosses here, and all of them are presented quite well. When it comes to standard grubs – you’ll find them of various shapes and sizes in this game. From the slow moving humanoid robots, to robot ninjas – there is everything here. My main strategy to take them down was to go for the legs. Yup, you could never go wrong with that, and it’s satisfying to see them crawl towards you to give their one last shot to take you down. Yeah, like that’ll work. Hint: it does.
The game is quite linear, but doesn’t really make you go irritated like, “great… another tunnel, sigh”. The level design is quite good, and stands out due to the great art direction. The visuals give that futuristic sci-fi vibe in some places and looks quite good, but isn’t really a technical showcase. I played this on a PS3, and didn’t really find any game breaking issues, although, the frame rate is questionable during boss fights and heavy action sequences. The soundtrack was completely non-existent here, and I didn’t even realize there was any sort of music in-game. There are some volume issues here that makes the music less prominent in-game. The main menu music is absolutely phenomenal, though.
Since I gloated over the handgun earlier, and while that is most definitely my most used weapon due to the ‘coolness’ factor, the standard gun given to you and your team mates can be upgraded with credits, which you get by destroying enemies. The conveniently placed shopping terminals make your job quite easier. You can also buy nano-machines to upgrade the stats of everyone. In a way, this game seems heavily inspired by Metal Gear Solid and Vanquish to some extent, but that’s not a bad thing obviously.
It took me close to 8-10 hours to beat the game, and it was a great experience which I completed in 2-3 sittings. I felt really satisfied after beating this game, so it was the perfect length I feel. Again, the pacing is the main thing that binds everything together, and the development team nailed this aspect well. You can also communicate with your teammates using a microphone, and the in-built voice recognition is poorly implemented at least for me, it didn’t work that well as I would have liked. Although, you can also communicate with them using buttons (phew), and your team mates perceive you in a certain way depending on your behaviour. Friendly Fire is absolutely not tolerated here.
There are some online modes as well which will keep you busy for a while, but the main attraction of Binary Domain is definitely the campaign mode. I would heartily recommended people to buy this game, as games which mentally engage you to such extent with satisfying combat mechanics are quite rare. This definitely doesn’t seem like a big budget project, but the production values on offer here is quite respectable. I really enjoyed playing Binary Domain, and in a way, any game that manages to successfully do that has succeeded in my book.
This game was reviewed on the PS3.
Satisfying combat mechanics. Good art direction. Great boss fights and enemy variety. Smooth controls. Fantastic pacing.
Generic and cliched. Characters are unremarkable. Voice recognition broken.