Bionic Commando Rearmed Review
Full Game Memory: 213MB (Xbox 360), 374MB (PS3)
Save Game Memory: 312KB (Xbox 360), 1213KB (PS3)
Extra Support: Leaderboards (Scoreboards), Multiplayer (local only)
The original Bionic Commando was released for the arcades back in 1987 then a year later a sequel with the same was released for the NES. The NES version kept the same basic gameplay from the arcade version but brought in more of a story and added a few characters such as leading protagonist Nathan "Rad" Spencer. The game achieved a cult status for its unique use of a bionic arm with an attached grapple that was used to swing through a level instead of the usual jumping that was more common in 2-D platformers at the time. Now, two decades later, developers Grin and Capcom have remade the original Bionic Commando and released it for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC as a downloadable title known as Bionic Commando Rearmed.
The core game of Rearmed plays much like the original Bionic Commando with plenty of added features tossed in. The game still begins with a tactical map display where you must guide a helicopter through various on-screen areas and choose to descend in order to infiltrate each area with Nathan "Rad" Spencer. Upon first starting out in an area, you'll likely notice the major graphical enhancement over the original. The game is still presented in a 2-D style but this time it is glazed over with some stunning HD graphics. Just like in the original, there is no jumping. You must use a bionic arm to grapple onto high walkways or other objects in order to swing toward or pull up to your destination. A new life bar system takes the place of the old upgradeable life bar. Now Spencer begins with a full life bar and can pick up health replenishers from fallen enemies instead of having to upgrade his life bar to take multiple hits. Bullet pickups that are dropped from defeated enemies are now used to maximize your score on each area - individual scores may be loaded up to leaderboards (scoreboards).
Enemies now have a clever AI that will actually duck behind a barrel while Spencer fires his gun and wait for a break in the bullets instead of simply rising up into the gunfire. When Spencer grapples up to a ledge with an enemy the soldier will speed up and look for cover as well - they will actually jump behind a nearby box if one is nearby or might possibly duck and shoot as Spencer fires. The AI provides the player with plenty of reasons to use grenades and other weapons strategically in certain situations. When defeated, enemies crumple over and fall with a rag doll-like animation. On some areas, such as the first area, enemies actually tumble off a high platforms and hit the water below once defeated. The new physics really shine when Spencer gets the ability to toss enemies with his bionic arm.
Barrels that once used to stand in Spencer's way in the old Bionic Commando can now be grappled and actually picked up. These barrels can shield Spencer from gunfire and he can also toss or roll the barrel toward an enemy. Besides simply barrels, I was highly pleased when I found that Spencer could actually grab and toss enemies later in the game! His grapple can also deflect gunfire if timed correctly, much like the original Bionic Commando. Spencer gains several weapons unlocked throughout his journey through each area. These weapons can be upgraded by finding upgrade power-ups hidden among the various areas. Each weapon provides different effects based on the enemy type (Plasma Rifle is weak against human enemies yet strong against robots) as well as range along with a few other factors.
Much like the original, a great deal of care and focus must realized while navigating through each stage with Spencer's bionic arm, especially in the case of the later areas where one mistimed swing might result in landing in a bed of spikes that takes extreme damage or possibly a pit that will kill Spencer instantly. The level of precision that must be used in some of the areas while swinging or maneuvering through each one makes for a very hard game but one with a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment once the proper timing is realized.