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Available on

Xbox Live!

 

Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Capcom

 

Developer

Fatshark

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

February 2, 2011

 

 

- Refined (but still familiar) bionic attaching and swinging
- Jump button adds to the gameplay instead of simplifying it

- New weapons and upgrades in each area encourages multiple playthroughs

 

 

- Level design is linear, lacking in polish
- Infuriating, drawn-out boss battles
- Little enemy variety or challenge

 

 

Classic Review: Bionic Commando (NES)

Review: Snoopy Flying Ace (360)

Review: Limbo (360)

 

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Bionic Commando Rearmed 2

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

bioinic commando rearmed 2           bionic commando rearmed 2

 

No series has likely risen and fallen from the grace of gamers this generation faster than Capcom’s Bionic Commando reboot. The first of two titles developed by GRIN, Bionic Command Rearmed was a 2008 downloadable remake of the classic NES game that was quickly praised by critics and gamers alike for its re-imagined visuals and gameplay tweaks, combining old school platforming with a 2.5D perspective that always seems to be a hit with the hardcore gamer crowd.

Shortly after came Bionic Commando, the 2009 3D follow-up that Rearmed was merely building up to. It ended up being the high point of a failure flop that was shunned by fans and soon led to the death of GRIN itself. With Spencer’s comeback cut short, all hope seemed lost for a proper sequel to Rearmed.

Fortunately, Capcom gave many of Rearmed’s developers a new home under the company Fatshark, and quickly began work on delivering the downloadable follow-

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up that gamers demanded.

Taking place a few years after Rearmed (but not entirely removing the 2008 story out of continuity), Nathan “Rad” Spencer returns to the battlefield with a new team of bionic soldiers (along with a sweet new ‘stache) in order to take out a South American general named Sabio. When his new team quickly goes AWOL, Spencer must rely

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on a new repertoire of weapons and gimmicks to defeat the general’s men and machines… along with his new ability to jump.

Spencer’s new jump ability sparked a flood of controversy across the internet, with hardcore purists instantly denouncing the sequel as “easier” because of it. In truth, the ability to jump is no more detrimental to Bionic Commando’s gameplay then Mario learning to fly; while jumping is indeed more convenient, particularly when scaling chasms and crates no more than a foot high, the areas are still spread out widely enough that players will still need to get their bionic swinging down to a science in order to avoid a sudden drop into a pit of death (be it filled with water, spikes, or quicksand). It should also be noted that an option to disable the jump entirely is available upon finishing the game, which should help keep players from mashing that button and screwing themselves out of the Achievement.

If only the jump button was the only problem with Rearmed 2. Even though the game retains the same style and visuals from the first Rearmed, something's missing.

 

The levels, while featuring the same multiple layers filled with secret weapons and upgrades (most which are unobtainable without the proper ability), feel more lifeless this time around, as do the recycled enemies. New weapons are made available in addition to some returning favorites, but with every enemy and boss susceptible to the same damage regardless of what you use, there’s little reason to switch from the default machine gun and its infinite ammo.

 

New to the sequel are passive and active upgrades, the former featuring character enhancements such as increased health and faster speed, and the latter adding secondary weapons like grenades and a bionic uppercut. Unfortunately neither of these abilities can be swapped on-the-fly like Spencer’s primary weapons, and must be switched manually in the inventory screen.

 

bionic commando rearmed 2          bionic command rearmed 2


This hurdle around the new additions to Bionic Commando could be forgiven were it not for the features that were removed entirely; gone is the ability to choose between multiple areas on the map screen, instead forcing players to take a single, linear path. Also gone are the top-down shooter segments, along with the computer hacking mini-game. While neither of these were considered the high-point of the original game, the fact that nothing was added in their place makes their removal all the more unfortunate. The Challenge Rooms have received a bit of a downgrade as well, both visually (no more neon Tron-style look) and difficulty-wise (with the exception of a few rooms, many of these new challenges are a cakewalk compared to the original).

But by far the most infuriating change revolves around the bosses. While they are every bit as massive as the mechanical monsters from the first game, their attack patterns are easy to memorize along with their weak points; the bad news is that the weak points are only available once the boss has finished its string of patterned attacks, and regardless of what weapon players use, it will only take a set amount of damage before beginning the attack process all over again. This means that even if you memorize the patterns, you must sit through and endure the entire animations multiple times until the weak point is available again, making these encounters far longer and more irritating than they should be.


Capcom deserves all the praise in the world for bringing back the folks behind Rearmed. It’s just too bad their attempt to win back Bionic Commando lovers after the devastating (in more ways than one) 3D experiment fell short. Hopefully there’s still time to extend development to another 2D game before the series falls into the bottomless darkness for good.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(February 25, 2011)

 

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