Binary Domain Demo Impressions
I always love getting to play on a game that I previously had hands-on time with. Binary Domain is a game that I fell in love with at Eurogamer 2011 when I played through two stages, and I haven’t really shut up about it since. On the DBR Podcast Eurogamer special I mentioned how much I enjoyed the game, how the combat felt tight and how visually the game looked pretty good too. During recent podcast episodes we have had questions about games we are looking forward to this year – Binary Domain is always in that list alongside the blockbusters like Mass Effect 3 and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. When I heard that a demo was going to be released I was ecstatic, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the demo with you all at The Game Jar.
For those of you who haven’t heard much about Binary Domain it is a squad based third person shooter created by Toshihiro Nagoshi of Yakuza fame, developed by Yakuza Studios and published by Sega. You play the role of Dan Marshall, who leads a peace keeping squad into 2080 Tokyo to deal with a robot invasion. Now this all sounds pretty generic but there is going to be much, much more in store with Nagoshi looking to create a game that gets the player thinking not just in game but also about the themes it will present throughout the game.
Onto the demo, which consists of two separate stages. The first is one we got to go hands-on with at Eurogamer, which sees Dan and his team of six in downtown Tokyo slums making their way towards a rendezvous point. The squad is comprised of different nationalities and different personalities that you need to manage throughout the game. It is apparent that Dan and Charlie, the British ex SAS operative, don’t see eye to eye, and Dan volunteers to take two other squad members and take point. I chose the heavy weapons expert, Big Bo, and the Sniper, Faye, and off we went on our merry way.
Not long after we set off Big Bo decided to ask me a question – “do I find Faye’s smoking hot body attractive?” As I had my microphone attached I was able to respond using my voice rather than in a dialogue menu which is something the game allows you to do, not just in set up situation like this but also when giving commands to team mates. I answered yes which Big Bo was happy with, but Faye… not so much. From there on in Faye was less responsive to my orders when we did run into some “scrap-heads”, and this is all part of Binary Domain’s consequence mode.
The more poor calls you make in the heat of the battle; accidentally shoot your squad mate or just generally piss them off and each individual squad member will respond to you in different ways. Some won’t take orders, or they may just be more hostile towards you when talking back. It’s an interesting idea and it will be good to see if this personality management can be pulled off throughout the entirety of the game upon release.
When it comes to getting into fire fights Binary Domain does come across as pretty standard, taking the Gears of War ‘corridor, find cover, shoot enemies, move up’ approach. To try and make it more interesting you can order your team, as a while not individually, to do different actions like move, fire, re-group, and as I mentioned earlier you can do this with just your voice, although it doesn’t work too well just yet and hopefully will be fixed for launch. Shooting robots is an absolute delight and I am very impressed with way they disintegrate depending on where you hit them.
The outer armour is ripped away leaving the inner workings of the robot showing, and each enemy takes a good amount of bullets to put down. If you blow off the arm of an enemy that is holding its gun it will try and run over to the nearest gun on the floor and pick it up with the other hand and try and continue to kill you – little touches like that really impressed me. The robots are pretty damn creepy as well. I made the mistake of thinking I had killed a robot after shooting its legs off and started concentrating on one of its robot homies when all of a sudden Mr. Legless came crawling towards me and started trying to punch me in the legs. Watching a robot pull itself along the floor, metal scraping along the concrete as it goes really can freak you out.
At the end of the first stage you come up against a giant robot called a Grand Lancer, which looks like something Steve Jobs would have thought up if he was in charge of a nation’s army. A towering plush white behemoth with no weak parts…until you blow off its outer armour with an RPG, jump on its head and shoot the hell out of its core processor. The Grand Lancer is an impressive sight and it helps move Binary Domain out of just endlessly mowing down human shaped robots. The second stage was more of the same; this time I was trying to escape from a metro station. I had no choice in my squad mates and I was left with Faye and a French robot, Cain (why it was French and wore a little neckerchief I have no idea).
I’m a little disappointed that the other stage that I played at Eurogamer wasn’t included in the demo as it showed off a boss battle against a huge Spider looking robot that was the size of the building, and helped show off the difference in scale that could occur between levels. I’m concerned that people who download the demo who haven’t heard of Binary Domain before may be put off by what may seem initially as another cover based shooter.
I still feel that Binary Domain will have a lot to offer and if people do take the chance, pick the game up and scratch away at the surface then there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.
The Binary Domain Demo is available now on Xbox and PS3 with the full game released on 24th February 2012.