Binary Domain review
Going under the radar somewhat Binary Domain proves that shooters doesn’t have to feature bloodthirsty zombies to be fun. Instead SEGA’s futuristic shooter has players pumping lead into enemy robots threatening to overrun mankind. It’s not original, and it’s hardly approaching A.I. levels of cleverness, but Binary Domain for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC remains one worth playing, says Stephen Ebert.
To its credit, Binary Domain does better than most. It does not have quite the same impact as the Epic Games classic, but don’t let that spoil what a capable shooter Binary Domain can be.
Binary Domain takes place in 2080 Tokyo. The Amada Corporation has started producing robots capable of assimilating with humans to the extent that it is now too difficult to tell them apart. Their very existence threatens the future of mankind. To say anything more would be to spoil the story, but it soon becomes clear why they must be wiped out. It takes a while to get going, but by the end, Binary Domain proves why it was worth the time.
Forget blasting squelching holes in the undead: shooting at robots is much more fun. Binary Domain is a welcome change from the norm. Rarely has shooting enemies felt so satisfying. The clink and clunk of every nut and bolt falling away as you dissemble enemies with your rifle is almost tangible as you fire away at their mechanical legs: leaving them with little choice but to pitifully crawl after you. They never give up. Enemy A.I. is fantastic: enemies will duck, charge, and flank you: forcing you to alter your tactics.
Boss battles too are tremendously satisfying. From battling large spider-like mechanical beasties to swatting aircraft from the sky using rockets, each of these deliver all-action moments of urgency in a game that rarely lets up on the action. Players will at times have to think best how to beat them, and it’s hardly mind-bending stuff, but who cares?
Its typical third person cover, left-button-to-aim-right button-to-shoot gameplay lends it a familiar feel to series such as Gears of War, but since when has that ever been a criticism? Binary Domain’s controls feel just right. It makes the action throughout a joy. Though the action might feel generic, but when it gets going, Binary Domain is a fun game to play. Early levels require little effort on a part of the player, but by the end, thanks to a tried and tested control scheme ducking for cover and diving out of harms way becomes instinctive.
The game’s biggest success however is in making the player feel attached to its cast. By the beginning they feel boring and uninteresting, but by the end their personalities and affections flourish as the twisting plot and events demand more emotion from them in a game where the story gradually picks up to transform Binary Domain into a more memorable experience than would have been imagined at the start. Some of the performances from the main characters are superb.
Binary Domain almost takes too long to get going, not helped by one of of the dullest tutorial missions we’ve ever had the (dis)pleasure of playing. The settings too, while big on scale are devoid of colour, and feature little imagination. Even further on, each corridor looks the same.
Weapon variety is sorely lacking. There are only a handful of weapons, and many of them feel the same, bar a rocket launcher and pistol, leaving players little choice but to stick with tried and tested weapons simply for the sake of it. There is an upgrade system, but it never feels useful, with little tangible difference ever evident.
Binary Domain also for some reason forces a voice command mechanic on players that is only there to annoy players. Occasionally your squad will ask questions that you will need to reply to by pressing one of the buttons to give a response. The attempt to make the player cement a bond with their team in this way is to be applauded, but is nothing more than a gimmick.
The bottom line
Binary Domain won’t set the gaming world, or its own genre alight, with its originality, but what it does offer is a fun experience that, despite taking a while to get going, is both engaging and (eventually) rewarding.