When it comes to western styled third person shooter, the Japanese tend to be a little bit hit and miss. On the one hand you’ve got the likes of our 2010 game of the year Vanquish
from the ever reliable Platinum Games
, and on the other you’ve got the likes of NeverDead
which, although not complete garbage, tended to miss the mark quite a bit. Binary Domain
is the latest attempt at the genre, this time from Yakuza Studio
, and it’s got a couple of tricks up its sleeve to make sure that it doesn’t disappoint.
As you might have guessed from the game’s title, Binary Domain
is set in a fairly stereotypical near future. The year is 2080 and the earth is recovering from a series of catastrophes brought on by global warming and our refusal to heed the warnings given to us from the middle of the 20th century onwards. Due to the huge numbers of casualties arising from these catastrophes, mankind needed to turn to artificial intelligence in order to aid the rebuilding process, creating humanoid machines to speed things up.
With the massive upsurge in the technologies utilised in their creation came a wave of new legislation, including one international law which was passed to prevent the creation of robots that could pass for humans. When one such machine turns up, completely unaware that it is a robot, an international crisis seems to be on the way, leading to the formation of a team specifically brought together to get to the bottom of the problem.
In truth it’s actually quite an enjoyable storyline. The characters are decent enough, even if the player’s character, American Dan Marshall, is a bit of a pig at times, and some of the banter between the squad is quite amusing. As you play through the game, you soon rendezvous with another group, and from that point onwards you’ll need to choose your party for the game’s various missions, adding a tactical flavour to proceedings.
While the game is far from being akin to SOCOM
in its nature, teamwork and tactical planning are necessary to get you through some tricky situations. This is where Binary Domain’s
major selling point comes in; spoken tactical instructions. Unfortunately, they don’t work quite as well as they should a lot of the time, and they can often lead to confusion and wrongly interpreted commands, which make things a hell of a lot more difficult than they need to be. It doesn’t affect the game too much through, as you can choose to deactivate the spoken commands and instead enter them using the controller if you wish.
The real fun in Binary Domain
however comes from the enemies. Unsurprisingly, you’ll be taking on wave after wave of machines, disparagingly referred to as scrap-heads by the teams. While there’s nothing new in that, the ways that your carefully aimed volleys of fire affect them is certainly refreshing. Shoot off their legs and they’ll pull themselves towards you using their hands, shoot off their gun arm and they’ll simply pick up their weapon with the other hand and keep coming. It’s impressively done, and when you’re facing a large number of enemies at the same time, it can be quite a daunting experience.
The bigger foes don’t quite live up to the promise of the grunts, but they do allow for some creative design, particularly when it comes to dispatching of them, so it all adds to the enjoyment of the single player game.
The multiplayer aspect, unfortunately, is a massive let down. Rather than utilising the undisputed potential on show in the single player campaign, things instead feel rather disjointed and tacked on. There doesn’t seem to have been any real thought put into this side of the game, and it suffers badly for it.
While it seems like Japanese developers are finally starting to get their heads around the third person shooter genre, they are still lagging far behind when it comes to online play. That’s undoubtedly something that’s going to be addressed in the future, but for now it’s a major issue.
All in all Binary Domain
is an enjoyable single player experience, if a little clichéd thanks to the ever so hackneyed shoot and cover gameplay. The levelling mechanic works well and there are some really great moments along the way. It’s let down by some samey level design in places, and the lack of accuracy on the voice input front, but it’s definitely worth a look.