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Review

Binary Domain Review

  • Game release: February 28, 2012
  • Reviewed: March 5, 2012
  • X360

The intriguing world of Binary Domain rises above its conventional appearance, thanks to the satisfaction of shooting robots to pieces.

What if you lived in a world where robots were as prevalent as humans? You'd see them every day--in the street, at your workplace, in the coffee shop--made to mimic the human figure but easily identifiable as machines. But what if the gap narrowed to the point where human and humanlike robot were indistinguishable to the naked eye? The soldiers in Binary Domain have dedicated themselves to preventing such a world. It's a familiar futuristic trope, and much about this third-person cover-based shooter is familiar. But if you probe past the humdrum fundamentals, Binary Domain reveals some intriguing elements that boost its appeal beyond the ordinary.

The first of these rewards lies in the shooting mechanics. The key is not so much what guns you are shooting (a basic military arsenal with scant futuristic touches) but, rather, whom you are shooting. Your enemies are robotic, most of them humanoid, and they break apart in such a marvelous variety of ways that you won't soon tire of fighting them. Armor plates burst off in showers of sparks, and explosions send enemies rag-dolling, but the real treat is what they do when injured. They limp. They hop. They crawl. They doggedly pursue you until you deliver the killing blow, and the realistic animations are a treat even after you've downed hundreds of foes.

Just as these enemies liven up the standard gunplay, the clever designs also liven up the many drab corridors and bland rooms you encounter in the campaign. You spend a lot of time popping in and out of cover, as well as moving through conventional futuristic-looking environments, but if you take a moment to look around, there are some cool things to see. A massive agricultural complex doesn't just look cool and evoke the human goo farms of The Matrix, but it also resonates strongly with the struggles this society faces and the solutions it has devised.

On the other end of the size spectrum, hand dryers that look like jet turbines offer a glimpse at what the Dysons of the future might engineer. The eye-catching elements aren't everywhere you look, not by a long shot, but these environmental highlights are what you'll remember when the campaign ends. (Oh, and the Tully's Coffee shop, which is the most incongruous and unexpected product placement to come along in a great while.)

Borrowing an enemy's gun can be a boon.
You play as Dan Marshall throughout the whole campaign, a wry, tough-talking soldier with a strong dislike for robots. Your initial companion is Big Bo, a machine-gun-wielding tank of a man with a mild strain of brash attitude. You soon meet up with a few soldiers from other countries until you've got yourself a regular NATO anti-automaton squad. Your fellow soldiers are an interesting lot, once you wade through their eagerness to communicate what kind of stereotype they represent (the stodgy British commander; the iron-willed Chinese sniper; the snarling, short-haired shotgunner; and the like). No one totally subverts what you'd expect, but there are enough humorous moments and thoughtful turns of phrase that you're always interested to hear what they say next. In a nice bit of pacing variety, there are also a number of quiet times when you enter a safe haven and are free to wander around and converse for a bit.

When you're in the field, you are frequently given the choice of which characters you want by your side, though this decision has more to do with personality than combat efficacy. You do the heavy lifting when it comes to robot killing, though your teammates aren't useless. They down some foes and can revive you when you're incapacitated, and they rarely devolve into being a liability. You can give them (and yourself) a boost by spending the credits you earn for robo slaughter at the plentiful vending machines. There are basic weapon upgrades, as well as a neat little nano-enhancement system that lets you try to maximize attribute boosts by arranging upgrade pieces of varying sizes on a small grid. It's not a huge asset, but it's a nice injection of variety and progression.

Though these upgrades don't have a big impact on your teammates, there is a way to motivate them. Contextual commands are easily accessed from a quick menu, but if you plug in a microphone, you can use upward of 70 voice phrases to communicate with your AI allies. Tactical orders (retreat, charge), positive reinforcement (awesome, nice work), chastising remarks (idiot, you fool), personal admissions (I like you, lookin' pretty sweet), and vulgar curses (choice four-letter words) are all included in Binary Domain's sizable lexicon. The voice recognition can be unreliable, and dealing with ambient noise and third-party hardware can present issues, but it's never crucial to survival, so these issues are merely frustrating rather than downright aggravating.

Not all robots aspire to look human.

When the campaign comes to a climax and concludes (somewhere in the nine-hour ballpark), you'll be happy you saw it through, but get ready to temper that enthusiasm if you hop online for multiplayer. The cooperative Invasion mode has plenty of robot killing for up to four players, but the repetitive environments and bland soldiers aren't much encouragement for soldiering on through 50 waves of enemies. The competitive multiplayer has a basic suite of modes for up to 10 players, with variants that disallow respawning. Though you can get into some good matches, the maps are uninspired and practically encourage spawn camping. Furthermore, both online modes are hampered by lag, which results in visual bugs and connection issues.

So Binary Domain is a bad bet for the multiplayer aficionado, but for those looking for a shooter campaign with a refreshing vibe, it's a very good choice. The variety and destructibility of the enemies, the intriguing and well-paced environments, and the lively and colorful cast all combine to make Binary Domain an enjoyable and energetic success.

The Good
Robot enemies break apart in diverse and gratifying ways
Characters and dialogue are appealing
Thoughtful environmental detail
Amusing command/dialogue mechanic
The Bad
Mundane multiplayer suffers lag
Voice commands don't always register
7.5
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Binary Domain

About the Author

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Y

Discussion

66 comments
travisstaggs
travisstaggs

Glad I bought this game for around $3 on Steam a while back. The PC version is considered a bad port, but I'm still enjoying it a bit with the keyboard and mouse controls.

Kickable
Kickable

the black dude's dialogue is so token it's funny.  didn't even notice this game when released, looks pretty cool

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

i'm glad i wasn't the only one that noticed the Tullys product placement.

santinegrete
santinegrete

If you are into action SP shooters you won't regret purchasing this game. Took me 12 hours to complete and bosses were a lot of fun, and that a rarity in shooters.

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

This and Vanquish are the only two shooters I've enjoyed since RE5

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

I never got know about this game until today.Might consider checking it out.

abhirajgoldy
abhirajgoldy

this game is quite good & enjoyable , think it dd'nt get promoted well that led to its very low sales

chaz1911
chaz1911

this game is amazing the voice acting is superb 

Lamia96
Lamia96

I know karma_pintball Gamespot sometimes gives low scores for good games.

 

Lamia96
Lamia96

Mr Watters! good as before! This is a good choice for PC I think.

princott
princott

MAAAAAAAAAAAN! that's what i call a game! That was Great!

InquisitorCrox
InquisitorCrox

Look, it should be clear by now, bet let me call it as i see it.

GS is adressed to a certain fanbase, the US young gamers.

GS is influenced therefore by the US companies that make games and are rating as a US active gamer would do.

A gamer that is solely targeted by those certain companies.

With this in mind, you can tell why this game has such a rating and many other games, who have worse SP gameplay and have not Tokyo based HQ, can have better ratings.

Personally i live in EU, so i can be objective somewhat, of course my taste is closer to the US one, but i can tell bias when i see it.

I would advice gamers to think of themselves, even the US ones and judge for themselves...

I m confident that most of the GS readers still do and thus the difference of the GS raters and player ratings...

Karma_paintball
Karma_paintball

Another poorly rated game on gamespot... shame, it's a good game. So how much does it take gamespot to get a good rating?

Wensea10
Wensea10

Excellent game here since the robots become outstandingly aggressive.

aam77t
aam77t

this game is good(prologue  is too lengthy !!!!)  but thank god i can't play vanquish ( i think second on is much better ) because i have pc

Dororo22
Dororo22

i had a lot more fun than I expected with this game, the core mechanics work great and I loved the setting and enemies. A solid 8, one of my personal faves of 2012 thus far.

kingslayer2015
kingslayer2015

Binary Domain gets an 8 from almost every user? I downloaded the demo yesterday and attempted to play it, did they forget about PC users? The keyboard config. is setup for X-Box users. PC users can only assign a "limited" amount of keys to accomodate their  playing style.  This is another game pushed onto PC gamers before working out the bugs.

The demo was awful, I was hoping this game was going to be worth my money & time, AT BEST IT DESERVES A 5!

 

Softpedia's review of Binary Domain sums it up nicely:

"On the other hand, the game doesn’t really bring that many impressive things to the table in order to distinguish it from other third-person shooters and its multiplayer modes are forgettable. Throw in the lackluster porting to the PC platform, which resulted in some features not working properly or not being able to use a mouse in the menu screens, and it’s a bit hard to like Binary Domain."

luizferrarezzi
luizferrarezzi

best singleplayer campagn I played in a long time.

winshot
winshot

The best game in the world..... It deserves an easy "9". Everything in the game is a great experience. Even the ROBOT ZOMBIES.....

JediHeadband
JediHeadband

@ shadowrun except for maybe that its not an fps

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

this game definitely deserves an 8. i think any one who want's a good cyberpunk fps single player game this is the right thing. (if he want's a good multi- go for syndicate)

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

the multi may not be perfect, but from what i read here it deserves at least 8 for the amazing campaign

TomJimJack
TomJimJack

BD is a fast paced and thrilling action game. It stands up in its own regarding many choices the developers made, yet as the Yakuza series is a one time playable only game!

Lytmare
Lytmare

I'm sorry GS, but your rating system is flawed. Some of my favorite games are scored so low most people will never play them. And by what I hear of this game, it is supposedly pretty good... and I used to never even buy games below an 8.

roblucci85
roblucci85

this game would be epic if it was drooled as much as Mass Effect and SEGA should play reviewrs like what COD and ME publishers did to overhyped their games.underrated doesn't always equal low quality as good marketing campaign would make many people change their perception of a bad game like COD and glitches fest Skyrim.

roblucci85
roblucci85

Gamespot didn't get paid from SEGA and no wonder every COD and EA games (shooter effect) got over 8.5.

xXShortroundXx
xXShortroundXx

So why does it get a 7.5 and not an 8.0 or and 8.5 ? >.> I confus.

Batmantheorphan
Batmantheorphan

Gamespot totally does hate SEGA, they didn't review sonic generations until like after a month and didn't give it a video review. while that game was like the best sonic game in a decade. and when it came to binary domain the review came after all of the games that were released around that time, why, because gamespot was too busy making a couple of videos about ME3 every single day.

Chris_Watters
Chris_Watters staff

My soul is still my own, @GodGundamNT1, and check it out! There's totally a video review!

GodGundamNT1
GodGundamNT1

No video review??? wow Gamespot trying to hate on SEGA once again huh, your Call of Duty reviews should be scoring 6.5 and below since they are such mediocre sub par crap games not worth a review. I'm buying Binary Domain so you can suck on that Gamespot staff, you sold your souls to Microsoft.

pttiger989
pttiger989

This game is amazing game. The graphic, the cinematic, motion, shooting, all of them are perfect accept the allied AI

mmsd12
mmsd12

robots can duck? i knew it

frank7731
frank7731

@stailcookie Busy week at GS with GDC and a bunch of reviews. We'll be working on the video review today and hopefully have it ready tonight.

kiramasaki
kiramasaki

Hmmm major criticism is multi player, I hate multi player; sounds good.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

I've not got to the end yet but I've got quite far and from what I have played it seems worth way more than 7.5

Banefire76
Banefire76

@stailcookie I thought like you did until i played it. The story and characters are top-knotch. Sure it has tropes but they blend seemlessly into the story. By the end of the game you really feel for the characters because they start out cliched but evolve into real characters by the end of the game with some really compelling outcomes. To label this game as cheap and terrible would be a mistake, its not what it 1st appears to be. Its much, much more and i cant wait for Binary Domain 2. You should give it a chance, you wont regret it.

stailcookie
stailcookie

They bought full site ads, got a now playing, but no vid review? Seeing the gameplay is important on a game like this where 7.5 might reflect the mechanics, but not the 6.0 cheap feel and terrible characters it has.

kerrman
kerrman

Glad to see GS agrees, I bought this game day 1 and don't regret it at all. I loved the campaign, and plan on playing it again after gunning my way through Mass Effect 3.

Banefire76
Banefire76

@RE4GreatesGame The multiplayer is indeed average, but the campaign is superb, as was Vanquish's campaign.

DredWulf
DredWulf

@ShockSplicer  It has some cyberpunk qualities but you are correct and definately not an FPS

luizferrarezzi
luizferrarezzi

 @gamefreak215jd i had more fun, but i didnt played the multiplayer. I didnt like the story, the graphics, the gameplay and  the voice acting of Max Payne. Im from sao paulo and no one talks real portugues in this game.

Binary Domain More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Binary Domain is an original squad-based shooter by Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator behind the Yakuza series.
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 932 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Binary Domain
    Developed by:
    Devils Details, Sega
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes