The Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 Review
As a game reviewer, I often end up making suggestions as to what would have made a particular game or series better, regardless of whether or not anyone will listen. For example, my beloved Monster Hunter series would benefit from the ability to lock-on to the games' various beasts, rather than having to manually and uncomfortably readjust the camera every 10 seconds. Further, the Kingdom Hearts series could be made all the better by dropping every Disney property that has already made an appearance and firing everyone involved with the train wreck of a story since the first game's conclusion. You get the point. Anyway, an addition I NEVER would have suggested would be giving the protagonist in any 2D Bionic Commando game, such as the excellent remake/reimagining of the NES classic Bionic Commando, Bionic Commando: Rearmed, the ability to jump independent of his grappling hook hand. "Heresy," the people would holler, and the comment section under any such review would be filled with posts calling for my head on a platter. Well, guess what Capcom and developer Fatshark have done with their sequel to Rearmed. Yup, this Commando can jump and no, it doesn't make the game any better. Quite the opposite is true, in fact.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed remains one of the best titles available through Xbox Live or PSN. It took a classic game, spiffed up the visuals, ironed out some gameplay issues and delivered on of the best 2D games of the past 10 or 15 years. Rearmed 2 all but undoes the legacy of the first game. By adding the ability to jump, this sequel becomes just another platform game devoid of any real personality. The levels don't have the same breathless flow, the bosses aren't anywhere near as interesting and even the graphics and sound take a noticeable downgrade in this sequel. And as miscalculated as the jump option is, it's only matched in "why did they do that?" by the new grappling hook controls.
In Rearmed, players had the amazing ability to control the hook using just the analog stick, a development that was so simple it was almost shocking that no one had thought of it yet. The ease of control brought to mind the gee whiz feeling everyone had when they were first given full control of a whip way back in the SNES classic Super Castlevania IV. For this not-so-Bionic sequel, things have actually taken a step backward. Now a button press is required, along with the analog control, to fully utilize the hook. If you are like me and played through the original Rearmed multiple times, this new curveball will take a lot of getting used to, assuming you want to. To be fair, the shooting still works like it did in Rearmed, and there are a few cool new power-ups, but that button press is going to trip you up more times than you'll be happy with.
Rearmed 2 also falls short in that you end up feeling like you are doing the same thing over and over. The uninteresting bosses are recycled a number of times each and never truly get any harder, and you can backtrack through already completed levels for new gear, but collecting everything doesn't really effect how you'll play the game. If you opt for the health regeneration power-up, every other power and upgrade becomes obsolete and the game gets even easier. Fatshark attempted to add variety by throwing in a helicopter shooting level and some sniper sequences, but neither adds much to the overall game and just plain aren't very much fun.
Whether you're a Bionic Commando fan from Rearmed territory or an old school NES junkie, Rearmed 2 isn't going to be the game you'll end up wishing it was. The controls, the added ability to jump and the been there done that feel of almost every level keep this game from being great, and even tarnishes the first Rearmed's polish by association. Even with all the warts, Rearmed 2 is an OK platform game, but it just isn't a Bionic Commando title. But hey, at least it's not as painful as the Bionic Commando next-gen reboot, which can now be found in bargain bins across the country. Just play the first game again and try to forget this one even exists.
Final Rating: 35%.