February 7, 2011

The Fifteen Dollar Man

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 4:59 pm

bionic commando rearmed 2 review
Despite intending to spend a healthy slice of the weekend devouring Nathan “Rad” Spencer’s latest mission in Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, bite-sized doses became the norm, strongly encouraged by the volume of stages, which vary greatly in scale and often left me questioning whether I wanted to chew on another right away.

Granted it’s hard for any game to compete for my affection the same weekend that the Puppy Bowl airs.

bionic commando rearmed 2 review
As it was, Spencer seemed equally unenthusiastic after a bit of bravado at the outset, torn between nattering comrades that necessitate the option to skip dialogue sequences, and a new ability to jump that attempts to make every gamer happy. Not surprisingly, it’s a fool’s errand trying to please everyone, and Spencer might as well jump twenty feet into the air and perform a screw-attack to at least justify the bother. Instead, he jumps about the height of a barrel, a move mostly useful for climbing over those exact obstacles and little else – a move that both feels and looks like a painfully begrudging addition.

But that’s what Rearmed 2 is, a begrudged tinkering of elements that were generally considered settled the first time around, creating a directionless experiment where the player simply plows through the mixed results for the sake of bionic memories.

Not unlike a bag of trail-mix, there are some genuinely good tastes to be found at times, pushing an anti-aircraft cannon off a cliff-side comes to mind, as if spiritually lifted from the mechanized insanity of the Metal Slug series. But largely players just plow through stages that require little thought and offer no real engagement.

bionic commando rearmed 2 review
There’s rarely any need to sort through the weapons picked up along the way, it’s all auto-pilot play basics, broken up by agonizing narrative scenes attempting to remind you that Nathan has a team on the island with him and that there is a reason for the changing scenery. Enemies seem so entirely disinterested in putting up a fight that it’s possible the entire military standoff at the heart of this story could have been settled via other means.

I’m stuck in a prison at present, hitting a point where the fiddling bionic controls outweigh my expectations of discovering anything good enough ahead to justify more time. But it’s worth mentioning that any complaints I could put forward about the controls only come up when the design of stages forces the issue, primarily in situations where there’s a very fine point to grapple that defies controls that need more real estate for errors created by the naturally finicky nature of those controls. Maybe precision swinging should be the pursuit of bionic engineers, but I’m more likely to suggest that the real joy of Bionic Commando is when it feels like the game’s abilities are allowing you to cheat the conventions of more standard action titles.

bionic commando rearmed 2 review
The fact that vehicle sequences that place Spencer in a helicopter and offer players a machine-gun reticule prove as enjoyable as they do is lamentable – I simply shouldn’t feel so damn relieved to receive a break from the primary play mechanics, but I do.

And that’s really the whole of why I’m unlikely to finish the campaign anytime soon, even if it costs me the chance to stick a number to this outing. Not because I’m having entirely so little fun, but because what little pleasure there is to be had becomes completely lost in the minor irritants and general malaise that form the bulk of this release – a game that retreated from the challenge of following a successful predecessor to instead deliver an entirely mediocre “swing-and-gun” affair.

But take all of this with a grain of salt – it’s quite likely that the long term memory of Rearmed 2 will be Capcom’s requirement that PS3 owners be connected to the PlayStation network in order to even play the game at all.


  1. Bummer. Almost glad that it was released for $15 (out of my buying range) now seeing I’d probably be disappointed for buying it. If it was released for the same price as the first game I would have bought it day one instantly without hesitation. Thanks Capcom! ;)

    P.S. Why would anyone eat puppies out of a bowl? So much better as pizza or tacos.

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — February 8, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  2. Listen, both of you, stop eating puppies!

    Comment by Jamie Love — February 8, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  3. I’ll get it once it’s $7.50 on a PSN store sale. The fact that they repeated the awful “lock” of having to be online to play the game pretty much halves the sales they could have for the game at launch.

    @Ujn: Nooo, they’re better deep fried FIRST and THEN used as a topping on pizza. Gives it an extra zesty flavor.

    Comment by EdEN — February 8, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

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