Bionic Commando (PS3/360/PC) is 2009’s Mirror’s Edge, a flawed piece of work that soars as much as it sinks (like Nathan in the water levels, get it?). The following is a checklist for the prospective sequel. Grin, you’re making one, right? Right?!
1. More Checkpoints – By nearly unanimous vote among anyone who has played BC. While I wasn’t bothered by the sometimes scant amount of checkpoints, I also used to beat Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden (NES) without dying. Grin, submit to the tyranny of the majority on this one.
2. Make Nathan Not Suck in the Beginning – Most people who enjoy this game endured both the game’s steep learning curve and Nathan’s shitty aim. Because enemies require an average of 15 rounds (hit or miss), most of us resort to grabbing grunts with the bionic arm and pummeling them full of lead. That is, until we get shocked by enemies and we resort to the zip kick ad infinum. When Nathan finally "recalls" the Kite, Death From Above, and the Whip Spin abilities, suddenly the game is not only fun, but a refreshing change of pace. I swing across a corridor, pull a DFA into five grunts, whip spin another incoming squad, and zip kick any stragglers before taking to the air again. Then I echo Nathan’s demented laugh. BC allows us to heroically take on multitudes of enemies without firing a single bullet. It’s sick shit, but why do I have to get through half the game for the privilege? The next BC begins this way, Grin. How Nathan gets even better is up to you.
On that, I’m throwing in my vote for enhanced bionic arms. I want one that electrocutes grunts and another that lights them afire as I fling them into enemy squads. I demand (more) splash damage!
Like this? My side arm is a piece. Of shit.
3. Make the Guns Worth a Damn – And the most useless piece of video game weaponry of all time goes to…The Tungsten! Actually, the Tungsten isn’t as bad as the Top Spin in Mega Man 3, but it comes close. It fires all over a small radius that makes hitting your enemies a bit like playing the lotto. Then when you’re close enough to hit most of your shots, it’s just easier to zip kick or kite. You can toggle the over-the-shoulder view for more accurate shooting, but the control scheme has the player aiming with the same hand they’re firing with. Uncool game design, that. For this problem, I propose that most (all?) of the guns use a Z-targeting feature or more aggressive auto-aim. The weapons’ basic functions wouldn’t have to be altered either. They would maintain their firing radiuses and be more useful. Would this be more "real?" No, but it would be more fun and would provide a counter-balance to the enemies’ exceptional accuracy. Besides, Nathan is supposed to be a bad-ass; why shouldn’t his aim be perfect?
4. More Enemies – Not larger hordes, but a greater variety. While BC never plummets to Final Fight levels of "enemy waves," I’m never enamored with getting past some hills or trees and finding more shit-talking, garden-variety soldiers. Sure, these guys get stronger armor and weapons through the game, but I want more opponents like the Constructor Drones, who enter with a certain level of drama and force me to adopt a different play style. Furthermore, why don’t I encounter the bomb experts, shield soldiers, or fly droid operators from BC: Rearmed? Why no crazy homages, such as a 3-d D-1 Beetle set piece?
5. Cut Scenes I Can Skip – Seriously, Grin, this is down there with Nintendo not offering a headphone jack on some versions of the Game Boy. Better yet, if I die, in-game dialogue shouldn’t repeat itself, unless I need to hear it again to advance.
Attempting suicide after hearing his own lines too many times. Too bad the plunge won’t kill him.
6. Ghost Loading – This game does a phenomenal job of looking open world while remaining linear. But why do I have to walk into an opaque sewer to get to the next area? Call up Rockstar North and find out what the hell they’re doing with Liberty City. I’ll take a hit on textures and draw distance if you require it, I just hate that this game misses an opportunity to segue perfectly from scene to scene, as in when I thought I was going to scale the FSA building to take on the Buraq, only to have the game "jump" straight to the top. Meanwhile, I don’t understand why the game loads after I die. Isn’t everything I just died around already loaded? Why the delay?
7. Keep the Awesome Stuff – Remember, those of us that would take the time to address such grievances endured what we hated for that which we loved. When BC fires on all cylinders, the result is gaming euphoria. We swing Ascension City, choosing the bionic arm over a fire arm and we play the anti-action-game action game. Meanwhile, the graphics and sound effects are top notch. The symphonic score reverently revisits the original BC’s background music. The boss battles, such as the exquisite Mohole encounter, are what other game developers should be taking note of. Grin, there’s much to love about Bionic Commando, so much in fact that a sequel is in order. Just keep this list nearby.
This piece was originally published at my online portfolio: www.brutestomp.com.