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Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Removing of the individuality of "the jumping-less platformer" hinders the game in a major way, though the addition of co-op and new challenge levels do go a long way to repair an otherwise mediocre game.

The Pros: 

+The swing mechanic is still fun and satisfying +Co-op is a lot of fun, and winds up being the best way to play +Challenge modes provide that need for competition and self-improvement

The Cons: 

-Adding jump removes the originality of the concept -Additional pick-ups (weapons and upgrades) feel pretty much useless -Boss battles are pretty bland and slow Rating : 

Back in 2008 Capcom did me a solid and revamped the classic Bionic Commando, added achievements, and let me download it on the Xbox 360. It’s always been one of those titles that I had a warm affiliation for, and rendering it into 3D art, providing new challenge modes, and providing an option to relive the classic NES platform’s hay-day proved the concept still worked in the modern era. The idea of someone taking a big leap like removing jumping from a platforming side-scroller was mind-blowing. Having the ability to do it again in 2008 and still rope me in, even bigger of a revelation. So when Capcom dropped the bomb that they were adding in a jump button… well my interest waned a little honestly.

Whereas Bionic Commando: Rearmed was a brilliant re-institutionalizing of a classic child-hood memory, Rearmed 2 strived to carve its own path in the modern world via Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. Unfortunately, Capcom seemed to try to make it “different” by making it more similar to everything out there.

The swing mechanic is still there, and is still as much fun as always. Learning to manipulate it with speed and accuracy provides that rewarding feel of super-human agility that generally you only get in the 1-in-3 good Spider-man games. But throwing jump into the mix kind of ruins the individuality of the game. Sure, it’s true Capcom built the game in such a way that you don’t HAVE to jump… but it’s always there. It’s like saying you don’t HAVE to play a game with your hands; you could always try the challenge of playing with your feet. Mentally disabling the option to press the jump button worked for about two levels before it became an involuntary reflex for my thumb.

End personal preference rant.

As a 2D side-scrolling platformer, Bionic Commando 2 is still a solid experience. As mentioned, the swinging is fun and rewarding. The new weapons/upgrades are all pretty unique, and were always fun to explore when received. However, the entirety of the game was played with one combination of weapons/upgrades for me, with a very rare swap to an alternative when the game dictated that it was required. In my play through I stuck with the hand gun (which seems like it fires much faster now) and the floating heat-seeking mine combo. Being able to fly through a level and let your homing-drones cover you by kamikazing into any and all enemies (mostly before you even saw them) is kind of like putting the game to an “ultra-easy “ setting.

All of the add-ons in the game (item upgrades, additional weapons) feel unnecessary. There wasn’t any real reward for using anything but your basic equipment, and upgrading the tools you start with feels like overkill.

Most of the boss fights in the game are extremely tedious. Their patterns are easily recognized, and enemy attacks are insanely easy to avoid. The only taxing issue that there seemed to be was waiting for the opportunity to strike. Between rounds after round of attack you kind of just sit there, going through the motions, almost as though on auto-pilot… then you strike, quick and hard… only to be pushed back into a spot of waiting around for the next opportunity for attack to arise. Definitely more time and effort could have been spent creating fun/interesting boss fights. Though, to be fair, that pretty much sums of a lot of the boss battles from the series’ original era.

Thank God for challenges and multiplayer. Sometimes a great multiplayer experience can make up for a otherwise lack-lustre experience, and Rearmed 2 becomes a shining example of that. No wonder Capcom at every press event/show we were at this past year ran a multiplayer demo of the game. Playing through with a friend removes the stale slow grind of the game. When you’re moving through the game with a friend - either working together with or griefing the hell out of each other - mixes things up, getting your attention back.

Honestly, it started to feel like the only way to play.

The other shining moment, for me personally, was the challenge segments. Fans of high-scores and speed-runs will have a blast trying to make their way from point A to point B. As an achievement-focused individual (both Gamerscore and personal) it quickly became one of my favourite parts of the new game, and likely will be where I spend the majority of the time going forward.

It’s unfortunate that this once great pillar of individuality has become so standardized in the modern era. The original idea of “here’s a platformer… but you can’t jump that next ledge” was frustrating and awesome all at once. Removing that takes away a lot of the charm that roped me into the series in the first place. Adding co-op and new challenge missions go a long way to redeem the title over-all, but at the end of the day the updates to the series seem to hinder it more than help.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 is currently available for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network for 1,200 points or $14.99 respectively.