Been a long time since my last post, so let's try to play catch-up before the year ends. For starters: Bionic Commando (2009)
One look at the game's cover brought forth the sceptic in me. "Oh look, another gritty and edgy reboot." An overview of the plot strengthened that impression. However, for a game that I expected the worst, I had quite a bit of fun with it.
My biggest fear was whether they would get the bionic arm right. They did! It's pretty impressive that you can attach your bionic arm almost everywhere and not just in some specific spots. Swinging across the various environments, tossing items against enemies, tossing enemies against enemies or even zip kicking them in oblivion, it felt really great to be using the bionic arm; like a badass and I would have it no other way.
Aside your bionic arm, you also have access to your trusty pistol, a pack of grenades and later on, you can find other weapons with limited ammunition like a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a grenade launcher, etc. Pretty standard stuff and it's kinda disappointing that you can only find some of the weapons in specific places, but it always feels satisfying swinging towards enemies and mowing them down with a shotgun blast or a grenade. Extensive usage of your bionic arm/weapons leads to some further enhancements like damage reduction, increases in health/armor/accuracy or even some new cool abilities for your bionic arm.
Now, while the reboot's general stage structure is pretty simple (navigate a linear stage filled with enemies, chasms and traps), it does a bit too many missteps for me to consider it a great game. The first thing you'll notice if you are using a keyboard is that the game insists on showing all prompts as if you were using an Xbox-360 controller, which might be a sign that you should be playing this game with a controller. Thing is, I did try to play it with a controller and didn't find it as responsive as I would have liked on the swinging part, so it was back to the keyboard+mouse for me after a while. Next, you'll notice that the game's areas are 1) post-apocalyptic (for the most part) and thus 2) filled with radioactive zones, which is the game's way of telling you that these are invisible walls and if you try to walk through them, you'll die in a manner of seconds. Aside looking boring, it's not always clear when you have entered a radioactive area and if you accidentally walk into one, you might find yourself unable to escape in time, meaning that you are discouraged from exploring the area for fear of dying.
Speaking of dying, the game's checkpoints are really sparse, especially during the later levels. While each stage shouldn't average more than 15 minutes at best (and I might be pushing it), it's not really that difficult to die in Bionic Commando, what with the chasms, miscalculated jumps and radioactive areas and you might find yourself repeating a particular segment quite a few times till you get it all right. The checkpoints system will be particularly aggravating to those who strive to find all the game's collectibles, as it might force them to collect them again if they died before a checkpoint. Making matters worse is that if you forgot to get all collectibles in one stage, you'll have no chance to get it again, except from restarting the whole game. Capcom sure does hate the completionists.
So, Bionic Commando (2009); better than I expected and fun, but not without flaws. Full list
P.S.: While the plot was nothing special, the plot twist was horrible.