Bionic Commando First Look

Capcom offers us a glimpse of its new revival of the swingin' action classic.

by

One of the highlights at Capcom's London press event was the recently announced Bionic Commando, a sequel to the classic arcade and console title from nearly 20 years ago. While a brief overview of the game was given during the event's opening presentation, a lengthier demo session later in the event shed light on the upcoming title. We had the chance to get a modest glimpse of what Capcom Japan and developer Grin are cooking up for the promising title.

As was revealed in the game's official announcement earlier this week, Bionic Commando is a sequel set some 10 years after the original game and follows the exploits of Nathan Spencer, the hero of the original game. (Yes, we realize that Bionic Commando's hero will always be Radd Spencer to many, but considering that the main character wound up having many names over the course of the many versions of the game over the years, we're willing to roll with it.) Unfortunately Nathan hasn't quite been basking in the warming glow of victory in the wake of his successful exploits at the end of the original Bionic Commando. At the start of the game Nathan is working on a fluorescent tan from the harsh lights of prison. It seems the onetime hero has been wrongfully convicted of a crime, imprisoned, divested of his bionic arm, and set for execution.

This all changes when, on the day of his execution, a powerful and deadly bomb is detonated in Ascension City, decimating the sprawling metropolis. With little information on the terrorist force responsible for the attack and now occupying the city, the decision is made to tap Spencer to assess the situation in the ruins of Ascension City and deal with the threat posed by the terrorists. This fairly straightforward mission, while offering a nod to the simplicity of the original game's premise, isn't quite as cut-and-dried as it sounds. The individuals who comprise the terrorist group and their motivations will pose an interesting moral dilemma for Nathan to deal with as the story progresses. Fans of the series looking for references to the original game should be pleased to hear that Capcom aims to incorporate references and elements from the classics of the series. We weren't able to find out to what degree, but we were intrigued to hear that the developer hasn't ruled out cameos or references to elements like the infamous resurrected evil leader from the original game.

Freefalls from the tops of skyscrapers aren't such a big deal when you have a bionic arm.

The ruins of Ascension City served as the centerpiece for the game demo and followed Nathan on a short run through a chunk of the city. The key focal point of the demo was showing how the dev team had taken the simple swing mechanic from the original game and brought it into a full 3D space. The new system allows you to attach to just about anything you see in the world, with a few exceptions. You'll be able to distinguish what you can and can't stick to by using an onscreen reticle that reacts to whatever surface it's on. Once Nathan attaches to a surface, he'll be able to swing or zip quickly to that point. He'll also be able to simply hang from a point, raising and lowering his height by adjusting the slack in his arm. The demo showcased the mechanic and gave us a positive sense of where it's going. Nathan's swinging has a Spider-man-esque feel to it that offers a good sense of wide-open space to play around in. While the swing mechanic is obviously a key element of Bionic Commando's gameplay, there's obviously more to the action than swinging everywhere. Nathan's bionic arm will have a variety of uses that will come in handy during combat and possibly exploration. You'll be able to use the powerful appendage and its wire to interact with your environment by pulling large debris down on your foes, grabbing smaller pieces of debris and punching it at them, latching onto enemies and pulling them around during combat, and just plain old locomotion around a massive environment. You'll also be able to use your arm for powerful, painful punches during melee combat. The game's trailer also shows Nathan watching a holographic display emanating from the arm with information of some kind, offering a clue to some of the noncombat uses the arm may have during the adventure. Besides relying on his powerful bionic appendage, Nathan will rely on firearms and other logical ways of dealing with foes.

The demo of the game we were shown featured a great deal of work-in-progress elements, which makes it challenging to judge its presentation. The visuals for the chunk of the city we saw were detailed and featured a nice sense of scale. Given the importance of swinging, the city level was quite high and offered a generous assortment of debris for Nathan to swing on and use in battle. We saw an early pass of particle effects pepper dust and fine debris in the air as Nathan swung and ran around the ruined city. The character models were obviously still coming together. The few enemies Nathan faced were solid but unremarkable gun-toting foes that worked as cannon fodder for his abilities.

Angry, oversized mechs aren't, either.

As for Nathan himself, the detailed polygon man running around in the demo was a far cry from the simple sprite from back in the day. The hero's makeover is a deliberate and functional update of the original. The team worked to ensure the 3D hero would stick close to the color scheme of the original game. At the same time it was also decided Nathan needed some updated elements that would offer visual cues to players--yes, including the dreadlocks. As part of the presentation it was explained that the team felt Nathan needed to have an element of his character that would offer players feedback on his motion while swinging, in much the same way that Solid Snake's bandana and Ryu Hayabusa's sash cue players to character movement. With bandanas and sashes pretty much taken by the aforementioned action heroes, the team considered various options and wound up with dreadlocks. Of course, the most scrutinized element of Nathan's model will likely be his enhanced arm, which borrows elements from both steampunk and more modern influences to create a unique and bulky appendage that looks utilitarian and powerful. The unifying element in the game's presentation was its smooth animation. Nathan's running, jumping, and swinging all has smooth flow to it thanks to several subtle touches of animation that help sell his superhuman actions.

Based on what we saw, Bionic Commando holds a great deal of promise. The update of the classic gameplay appears to have a solid foundation to build on as development continues. The beloved swing mechanic's move into 3D seems to be going well, and the swinging demo we saw looked like a smart way to update the simple mechanic and, more importantly, expand on it in logically. The mix of the bionic arm's abilities with firearms and an interactive environment are all the right elements needed to craft an engaging adventure. If Grin and Capcom can deliver that and offer enough nods to the past games for diehard fans, Bionic Commando has a strong chance of living up to its beloved predecessor. Bionic Commando is slated to ship at some point in the future for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Look for more on the game tomorrow, as we offer up some additional bits of info we discovered while visiting Grin's studios.

Discussion

69 comments
GR33DY83
GR33DY83

looks like they really put some thought into this game lol

XxLongJohnxX
XxLongJohnxX

definitely one of the worst concepts for a game ever

antimat0r
antimat0r

This is what crackdown would of looked like if it had better graphics and more intense action, looks like a must get!

antimat0r
antimat0r

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ShoopLor
ShoopLor

Capcom know what they're doing, the animations will rock and all that in a gameplay!! Many moves, at our control!!! Looking forward for this game. Seems great! I've always said :3d person games are the BEST! GO CAPCOM

kerrelljoh
kerrelljoh

No, not Crysis, Defiant. Bionic Commando first appeared on the NES 10-20 something years ago. WAY before Crysis' time.

defiant09
defiant09

So a commando that has some kind of enhancements aye? Anyone think its just too similar to Crysis? :S

ele975
ele975

The voice in the vid kinda sounds like the guy that says "RESIDENT....... EEEVIIIIL!"

NandoSupes
NandoSupes

this game better play good,thats all it matters.they are playing with greatness here. Bionic Commando for the NES is a classic,they better do the game justice.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

Since Capcom is doing this it will be the Bionic Dud.

nikospanag
nikospanag

Grin Develope this game so no hope

Genson77
Genson77

Ohh Yeahh, This game was one of my favorites back in the NES, it was awesome, if capcom can bring the magic of the NES version, then it will be a hit. For those who have played the game,,, did you notice that the background music of the trailers is the same of the original game in the NES? sound cool

mhder
mhder

One of my old favs. Hope it turns out well but then again, look what happened to Final Fight.

BadRubberPiggy
BadRubberPiggy

Well It's possible I'm the only one, but the landscapes remind me quite a bit of Half Life 2

Stephen361984
Stephen361984

How close is this to release cause it looks fantastic for a game still in development?

NightKiller34
NightKiller34

it looks okay,the game seems like everything else capcom pushes out.Lame and empty

magicaltrevor11
magicaltrevor11

never played the original but Im looking forward to this

stafax
stafax

Also, I see a lot of people comparing the swinging to Spider-Man. Just go to YouTube and look up video of the original Bionic Commando, you'll see why he's swinging like that.

stafax
stafax

To the person who said the trailer looks like the game starts off like Gears of War, I disagree. It looks more like the movie Escape from New York.

boubaker982
boubaker982

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

beamme
beamme

@ MarcoSnow06 look at the trailer again. Right after he chucks a piece of debris at an enemy, there is a very brief scene in which you see him land with a train blowing up in the distance. In his hand is a long, tube like objekt looking pretty much like a rocker launcher to me. (it's also right before the screen with the sniper-view)

maaly81
maaly81

OMG!!!! I have been waiting for this forever! this was one of my favs on NES. Im getting this no matter what. Even if it gets a 3 out of 10 like Live for the Wii got.

ReDeYeRaver
ReDeYeRaver

Half these people commenting aren't even reading the article! Guys, I know they're very pretty pictures but get the info before asking stupid questions: to Storwalkerx: the article mentions, "[...]Nathan will rely on firearms and other logical ways of dealing with foes. " ...see that 'firearms'...that means guns. There's even a pic of him holding a pistol! to jknight5422: Not post-apocalypse...post bomb. A bomb JUST went off and they need his help. The city was in pristine order a day ago. It's in the process of falling down. "[...]on the day of his execution, a powerful and deadly bomb is detonated in Ascension City, decimating the sprawling metropolis" Can't wait to swing away again!

Goliathvv
Goliathvv

Mush_Mouth: Agree with you! It should be included as an extra. It'd be interesting to those who wish to play the old game again and to those who never had a chance to do that. stormwalkerx: The game will have guns: "The mix of the bionic arm's abilities with firearms and an interactive environment are all the right elements needed to craft an engaging adventure." This is at the end, try reading all the next time... I really hope this game don't turn out as something like "swing there... now there... swing a little more... now some more swinging...", because they got some very nice material to work with and it's very easy to get repetitive with the swinging 'n throwing gameplay.

MarcoSnow06
MarcoSnow06

After watching the gameplay vid, I've gotta say, my initial enthusiasm has faded (although I realize the game isn't even close to being finished). The swinging mechanic looks great, but the action seems to boil down to: swing onto a platform, grab chunks of debris and hurl them at a group of enemies / shoot them with a pistol / hit them with with a melee attack. I was under the impression that it would be more along the lines of a third-person shooter, with the main character's arm transforming into a variety of weapons, or, at the very least, that the game would offer a wider assortment of weaponry available to wield in the off-hand (machine guns, rocket launchers, shotguns, sniper rifles and the like). The previous vid, the trailer, did, however, show evidence that at least the sniper rifle would appear in the game (showing the game's protagonist taking down one of the enemy goons) so the appearance of other, more diverse weapon types may not be out of the question. Only time will tell, however, whether or not the new Bionic Commando will be able live up to the lofty expectations set forth by fans of the original.

Mush_Mouth
Mush_Mouth

You know what would be great, is if they included the arcade and NES versions of the older BC games on the same disc.

stormwalkerx
stormwalkerx

is it no guns?? just swinging around the city....

raydnex
raydnex

HOLY! Now thats what I call next-gen!!!

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

They aren't anywhere near done, but it already looks sweet.

jknight5422
jknight5422

Hmm...I'm a bit skeptical of how those buildings can still be standing in a post-apocalypse world. I think structural damage from wars would've caused them to collapse pretty quickly. Looks like we have our first post-apocalyptic spiderman adventure game. It looks like it's going to be fun & I like post-apocalypse settings.

Unknown_Legend
Unknown_Legend

I can't wait for this I'm so excited! Now I hope someone is working on a remake or sequel to River city Ransom.

Kniterait
Kniterait

Spider-Pig! Spider-Pig! Does what every Spider-Pig does! Spins a-bionic-net-with-lazrz.

thestrateger
thestrateger

wow, what a awesome graphic and waepons, i love this game :P

arlecchino1228
arlecchino1228

Though I'm a little wary... the music got me all nostalgic and excited. well done capcom. well done.

dutch777
dutch777

Just wached all three videos, this looks an awsome game. Who would have thought twenty years on this would be out again. superb !!!!

londonrider
londonrider

The screenshots are amazing! I'm not any sort of fan the previous Bionic, but this one blows me up :)

DiBBLeS_THe_CaT
DiBBLeS_THe_CaT

I'm interested in the Enemies.. Looking forward to seeing just what he's up against.. Hell.. The Spiderman Games were such a disappointment.. Perhaps Cable Swinging is the Future..

brokentoys
brokentoys

Ludovic: What you see in the trailer is confirmed gameplay, so don't worry. It will rock!

jmate03
jmate03

I had the 2d game back in the day. It was fun. I'm just going get for the 360. Cuz it will have online play. The other cool thing is the 2d versoin of the game is comming out on XBL.

Dunarif
Dunarif

I don't think Mike Patton would be voicing the main character if the game sucked.

alijib
alijib

I have played the 2d version, so i am going to play the 3D version too.

DeanCorleone
DeanCorleone

Its spider-man with a gun fellas. I'm sure there are going to be entertaining parts to the game, and its abit early for me to be pointing the finger and deaming it as a shadow game of spider-man, but c'mon... watch the "swing" video. Game doesn't look very exciting to me - I'll most likely just rent it...

Pfilosophy
Pfilosophy

What the... Ok, I'm interested. Show me more.

mena11
mena11

I have been waiting for this game at least 5 years! The only thing that makes me nervous is the continuous comments about "spiderman of the future". Sure is gonna be a great game.