GDC '08: Bionic Commando Update

Nathan Spencer's cybernetic abilities are coming into their own as development continues on this revival of the NES classic.

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SAN FRANCISCO--At Capcom's demo suite close to the Game Developers Conference, we got a look at two levels from Bionic Commando, the company's upcoming modernization of its classic NES action game featuring a character who couldn't jump, but had a bada** cybernetic arm to make up for that shortcoming. Well, in the new game, you can jump. Plus your arm is even more awesome than before, so we figure you're coming out way ahead on this one.

In collaboration with Swedish developer Grin, Capcom is listening to a lot of feedback from fans as development on Bionic Commando progresses. The first level we previewed was set near the beginning of the game in a dense urban environment, shortly after terrorists set off a bomb aimed at toppling the Federated States of America--the prevailing regime in the game's vision of the future. Nathan Spencer, the bionic commando himself, was picking his way through the ruined highway and leveled buildings, fighting enemy soldiers who were taking cover behind crushed cars and other rubble.

Biomechs will present a much greater challenge than your average foot soldier.

Similar to Gears of War, the game will occasionally prompt you to hit a view button to zoom in on a background element. In this case, we saw the top portion of a skyscraper toppling to the ground in the far distance, amid the combat up close. Capcom producer Ben Judd mentioned that Grin has been taking fan feedback about the game's washed-out look into account; this particular level has been given a more saturated, bluish tint that we thought leapt out at us pretty starkly.

As mentioned, this level was early on in Spencer's mission, and as such, Judd told us the character had few of the powerful special abilities he'll be armed with later in the game. For instance, you won't be able to pick up large objects with your bionic arm at the outset, but later on, even cars will become useful projectiles against larger enemies. Judd says the game will use a challenge system similar to the one seen in Call of Duty 4's multiplayer mode, which tasks you with performing simple tasks such as "swing 10 times in a row." Some of these will simply be for bragging rights or other peripheral benefits such as achievements in the Xbox 360 version, but some challenges will actually give you new gameplay abilities that will make your mission easier.

Though Capcom didn't let us try the game for ourselves, we got a feel for how the grappling mechanics will work. You've got a persistent crosshair onscreen for your weapon, and inside that reticle you'll see a smaller orange target appear anytime you're pointing at a surface you can successfully grapple onto. We were worried the game would have relatively few predefined grapple points, but Judd says you'll be able to swing from just about anything, as long as it won't somehow cause physics problems or interfere with the level design. That orange indicator will also turn gray if you're targeting a surface that you could grapple to if you were a bit closer; in those instances, you'll generally be able to jump, use your arm, and snag the surface successfully in midair.

The next level we saw was set in a park and contrasted the previous city level with an entirely organic environment of grassy hills, rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and ponds. The number of tall overhangs and large chasms prompted us to ask Judd about falling damage in the game, which he said is being considered and tweaked as part of the ongoing design process. Currently, the player incurs only a small amount of falling damage after a large fall, and it appeared to us that you can use the bionic arm to grapple to a flat surface below you to get there safely without taking any damage at all.

Capcom is listening to feedback on everything from Spencer's appearance to level aesthetics.

In the park level, we saw a burlier kind of enemy called a biomech, which is a big suit of powered armor with a human soldier inside. This particular biomech was essentially a strong melee fighter, though Judd said there will be numerous other kinds of biomechs, including one that can fly. This particular one had a weak point on its back, so Spencer had to get around behind it and throw an object to hit its weak back panel. We also got to see one of Spencer's more unique arm-oriented attacks, called the zip kick, during this fight. This involves him leaping into the air, latching onto an enemy with the arm, and then literally zipping straight at the enemy to deliver a powerful two-footed kick. This worked well against foot soldiers, but the biomech bruiser was able to shrug it off.

We're impressed with the direction Bionic Commando is going in so far, with its focus on intense skill-based grappling and combat. We'll have to reserve real judgment until we get our hands on the controls, of course, but we're encouraged that Capcom and Grin are listening closely to fan feedback over the course of development. (Yes, the hydraulic "hot dog" cabling on the arm was significantly reduced in this build.)

Discussion

94 comments
MikeyOfLamb
MikeyOfLamb

So, I'm kinda confused. Is this kinda like a 3rd person shooter? Simular to Lost planet or Gears of War? Or is this more like action game like Assasin's creed? Looks interesting.

bob9999999999
bob9999999999

Looks impressive. Capcom has been impressing me the last few years. If this game pulls it off it could be really fun. I just hope that it is long enough. I'm tired of games that have short campaigns because of expense.

Aka_Oni
Aka_Oni

This game looks awesome. May have to get this one regardless. There's no school like old school.

DizzlMan
DizzlMan

This looks sweet, i wounder whats its going to be rated

basem_fisher
basem_fisher

3d is a lot better encourging 2 play z game .

Sidivan
Sidivan

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

drewgie
drewgie

what i love about this revision of Bionic commando is its solid foundation and legacy. At the time bionic commando on Nes was one of a kind. all other platformers had your character jumping around but the swing mechanic was what made this game unique and challenging. with this nes foundation the developers have taken the mechanics and the mythos of the story and refined it to a point where i feel like it still captures atmosphere and heart of the original. I wonder if like the original there will be a graphic image of the final boss's face melting after you kill him at the end of the game?

sage_witch
sage_witch

Ok, I'm gonna go ahead and say it: I HATED the first Bionic Commando. OK, now that that's out of the way, this game, so far, looks pretty good. Despite being called Bionic Commando, I'll probably rent it.

Azuki
Azuki

Capcom a year or so ago asked what 2 old franchises fans wanted remade. The top 2 were street fighter and bionic cammando. Thats why we have this game and sf4. Personally I look foward to both.

zombie8me
zombie8me

I have never played the NES version of Bionic Commando but even this early on in development it seems that Capcom could go in so many different directions and possibly make another classic game out of what is already a classic game. I'll be keeping my eye on this game's progress.

knut-am
knut-am

lol, havent they got anything better to do then making old nes games new ?

Xenocide001
Xenocide001

OMFG!!!.. Bionic Commando always RULZ!... i hope this game kick some asses and bust some heads... i want a bionic arm... and some bionical parts to my cat...

bamfer3
bamfer3

i can't wait for this, this brings back the old days of bionic ommando on my nes

Gadeos
Gadeos

This is gonna be insane. When I was a child, original Bionic Comando had me playing for hours straight until I could finish it. I even got the NES emu for PC just to play this and other classic games. Damn I'm excited about this

scottwilkins
scottwilkins

Sony seems to be paying a lot of "payola" as this game is advertised here on PS3, but not the other platforms. It'll most likely be like all the other capcom games and look identical on PS3 and Xbox360 (though likely better on the PC)

IPwnNooBs666
IPwnNooBs666

This game looks and sounds all kinds of awesome. Bring it, Capcom!

vufor
vufor

looks great, Hope will perform same when it will be out.

ACC_Kokain
ACC_Kokain

great looking game, an addition to the many coming out this year..whenever this one decides to come out of course. we'll see in the future

Zee666
Zee666

THis looks pretty damn awesome. If the levels aren't too linear and the story is good then this could be awesome, not groundbreaking, but an amazing game in it's genre. I just hope it's pulled off well.

dawg49
dawg49

The game looks alrite but what I am mainly waiting for is resident evil 5 to surface up somemore. That game has been in development for way too long and is about time it comes out.

spartan_rebelin
spartan_rebelin

oooooohhhhhhhhhhhh......... i just ca't wait to play this game it just feels really exciting

Serpens_Solida
Serpens_Solida

It looks good. I just hope they don't mess it all up. Twenty years ago I enjoyed the first one so much.

machew100
machew100

mother of god those visuals are hot.

True_Blu3
True_Blu3

The visuals in this game are phenomenal...

camichan
camichan

The fact that Capcom solicits feedback from the fans while developing their game is wonderful. If only everyone did more of this. To be sure, they'd get more feedback than could be considered, but if the feedback is used correctly I believe the results would be truly superior. There are so many poor games out there that had we had a chance to give feedback on, the developers would have known they were releasing an unmarketable game. Better result for everyone.

Crystall3d
Crystall3d

character moves like a brainless muscle-box and his reactions to things , warn you to hit him with a wood so does not feel that had never happened to him before.

wingnut99
wingnut99

@Sacula. Gears was more than that. You could say the same for MGS on PS1. But it was a good game. Now this game came out when I was 11 or 12. I'm happy to see a remake for XBL. I will buy it.

wingnut99
wingnut99

@clawboy. I hear you on that!

clawboy
clawboy

I love it when old school classics are brought back to life.

RgvXavi
RgvXavi

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Sacula
Sacula

They are releasing an new version of the old game online. If you buy that you will look like the old school BC(the nes 8-bit) in the 3D BC. So many people are saying this looks "meh". I respect that. But none can say this looks more "meh" that GoW. All you did was shoot, hide. Next level: shoot- hide. On and on again. I played GoW several times and Im still not impressed by that game. Sure the graphics looks nice but doesn't save a game. Way overrated in my opinion. But give these guys a chance for trying to do something slightly different. And if they don't get everything right this time, maybe they can sort em' out on a sequel?

dutch777
dutch777

takes me back twenty years ago, but now with next gen game play and graphics. looks good!!!!!!!!

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

the arcade version gave me a big dose of nostalgia. ill check out this too. they made a great ad for the game

aceball69
aceball69

Looks pretty good... im waiting to see if its similar to spiderman, i hope not... weapons? or do you just swing from your arm? we'll see about this game.

perfectdark87
perfectdark87

Why even bother putting "TBA" in place of the platform listing? It's Capcom, so you know it's going to be on everything from the 360 to the DS, since Capcom are the biggest platform whores in video game history.

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

Capcom rocks man good to see them go multiplatform. Their products are unique.

bawathegamer
bawathegamer

this game is looking good. i really liked the trailer. this might end being a surprise game.

xrydersx
xrydersx

looks like a "maybe game" but still fresh off the market....have 2 wait and see

dontcare5454
dontcare5454

Bionic Commando rearmed looks to be one of the best Xbox live arcade games. If you have not seen it you should check it out its going to be coop and everything. This game I expect will be cool in its own way too.

NemesisLives
NemesisLives

Looks like another game that tries something a little different and completly fails.

ProphetC
ProphetC

Bionic Commando was one of my favorites on the NES and from looking at some of the screen shots I'm kinda let down on the whole appearance of the guy. I always pictured Bionic Commando to look more like a clean cut Police officer or Military soldier with a crew cut or at least short hair not DREADLOCKS!? Also whats with the outfit? He has this futuristic arm with a tank top and some camo pants...put that with the dreadlocks and they make it look like any average joe could be the bionic commando. If he would have some kind of uniform or suit like Samus or even a X-Men like outfit (From the Movies) he would be more believeable. Did they even use the original box cover when they thought this guy up? Also that arm looks huge in some of the shots like it would weigh him down a bit ...I'd hate to have to be the one carrying that thing around. lol he better have a bionic torso...Well just some of my gripes if the game is fun then that is all that matters.

Pyro77
Pyro77

I'm not completely sold just yet however, I have high hopes for this game. I'm pleased to see they are taking feedback into consideration. I'd personally prefer they don't overlook the value of refined gun play and not focus ONLY on the bionic arm to ensure a complete game. p.s. Either way I'm getting Rearmed for sure. =) Go Go gadget Arm!!!

theslimdavylp
theslimdavylp

I think it looks sweet so far... some of you guys are being too critical... they wouldn't even let gamespot play it, which means they must not even be close to finishing