When I first heard of Binary Domain, I had that silly smile on my face, being a software/web developer myself. I thought, "another game of hackers saving the world". But I was totally wrong. Then, I thought it would be a mediocre game, although I was following it, but my expectations were not high. Again, I was wrong. Having just finished playing the demo, I can safely say it's exceptionally good.
Binary Domain takes place in 2080 Tokyo, in an era where machines dominate and humanity struggles to survive. You are in control of Dan, a British soldier, and your squad must consist of 3 people, Dan included. You get the options of various team members, such as "Big Boy", an African-American heavy machinegunner, and Charles, a British Spec-Ops soldier.
You be trippin', bro?
The whole game has a Vanquish feel to it, from the environments and the interface to the background music. That's not a bad thing to say; I enjoyed Vanquish, and it was a fine game that sales didn't do justice for. While you play Binary Domain, you will feel that the control scheme is pick-and-play; you won't have to look through the control scheme screen, you'll know, more or less, what each button does by the time you pick up the controller.
Gunplay is surprisingly tight, and thoroughly enjoyable. You get a futuristic Desert Eagle variant with infinite ammo as your side-arm, an Assault Rifle, a slot for weapon purchase/pickup and a slot for grenades. All these are mapped to your d-pad. I talked about weapon purchases... The game features a shop that's accessed during missions through terminals. There, you can upgrade your weapons or buy new stuff, some of which might be compatible only with a specific character. The game's currency is, the usual, Credits. You get Credits by performing good in combat, and by doing special feats, such as bashing your opponent to death, up close and personal, instead of sniping from behind cover.
What's worth mentioning is that the battle system is also very, very fun but also needs you to think. The fact that you downed an enemy robot and it looked dead for a while doesn't mean it is. It might start crawling or limping its way towards you guys, or just shoot while on the floor. Be sure to make sure they're dead before walking away. Also, you can tactically cripple your enemies. For example, you can shoot off a robot's head, and it will act like a headless chicken. You can shoot a leg off and watch it limp and try to keep the fight up. If you get too close, it might try to roundhouse kick you, but not if it's missing a leg or two. That way, you can play and be a lot more tactics-oriented, and try to cripple the enemies instead of mindlessly shooting at everything that moves.
Also interesting is the Consequence System, that's even built within the battles. For example, if you accidentally (or purposely) shoot a teammate, they will kindly ask you to stop, but if you do it repeatedly, they will like you less and less each time, resulting in them refusing to follow your orders, or not doing well in battle. Outside battles, you can answer to chit-chat to continue building or destroying trust within the team. After a good battle, you can tell your teammates they "did a good job", or that "you were craptastic". Apart from combat affections, Consequence System will also affect storyline. An interesting system that I can't wait to see in its full form.
The graphics are brilliant, especially the character and weapon models. There's enough detail and diversity in the environments that make you overlook the, sometimes, cheesy dialogue you'd expect. Let's not forget, I said it's Vanquish-stylε, and that game was good but cheesy. While it's set in a futuristic landscape, where you'd expect tons of grey and white, the developers decided to color them a bit. You'll see screens, plants, and other props that make the scenes colorful instead of plain boring.
What I can say I disliked is the music part. Under a Japanese developer (Yakuza Studio), there's all that electronic arcade music that will sink through your skull and turn you psycho. At least, that's what it does to me. It's not that it gets in the way of gameplay, by distracting you or anything, but it's just that it's what you'd expect for this kind of game from the Japanese. I'd much prefer some orchestrated sound to electronic music, but I might just get used to it once the full game is released. Apart from that, the gun sounds, voice acting and general sounds are well-made, and will not leave you down - at least based on the demo.
All in all, Binary Domain looks like a successful game to me, and is definitely a day one purchase. To accompany you after you've beaten the campaign, Yakuza Studio has added online competitive modes, pitting a maximum of 5 people versus 5. Based on what I've played and seen from the gunplay, online, if populated enough, will be a blast. Binary Domain is due for a February 28th release.