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Review

Binary Domain Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3

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.)

Some judicious blindfire can stop these charging linebacker-bots in their tracks.

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.

Choose your words wisely. Or not.

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

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

Discussion

32 comments
santinegrete
santinegrete

This gem and sleeper hit of 2012 with lots of heart is on Humble Bundle weekly. Go get it!

gregbmil
gregbmil

I would have never played this game if it were not for PS+.  I am so glad I did.   

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

What a gem. Just picked this up on PS+ and I'm enjoying it greatly. I figured since I'd not heard of it and the demo seemed a bit meh that I wouldn't end up enjoying it, but it's quite the opposite. The gameplay is solid, but the best part by far is the story and characters. I've yet to experience this type of story in any game, so it's very refreshing.

3v1LR0n1N
3v1LR0n1N

OMG this game is amazing.... why wasnt it top of 2012?... maybe not enough word of mouth or advertising... I wish more people played it online too.. and maybe we would get the yakuza characters in MP like in japan

santinegrete
santinegrete

This game in few words: dormant hit of the year.

ErickPS4
ErickPS4

No new game +. I don't understant why developers spend so many time to do a great game and don't include a simple and necessary new game +.

Crossel777
Crossel777

How did this game get so cheap so fast? It only came out Feb 2012... Oh well, might just purchase for £14. Demo seemed enjoyable.

VivaRevolucion
VivaRevolucion

@de_graph LOL Oh god you're right! you Should make a top 10 list of terrible game box art. XD

de_graph
de_graph

i cant get over how bad the cover art is. i guess they wanted to show the main character with an injured guy over his shoulder, but didnt want to have the other dudes butt in his face, so they made him gripping onto his back like a zombie. he physically cant even hold the guy the way he's holding him, if you look theres a whole lot of weirdness going on with the injured guys right leg going over his arm. whats also pretty hilarious is hes shooting off and up to his left, yet hes looking forward. and the bad guys are behind him, whys he shooting towards the camera? i know im over analyzing a box cover, but its extremely terrible.... oh, and the guys "rawr" face is so silly :D

tenorio_rotc
tenorio_rotc

Everyone needs to head over the Giant Bomb to check out their quicklook. "That was swEEEEEEEt!!!"

J-007
J-007

@ JohnF111: Roger... this title should get a higher score...over

Gliave
Gliave

This one comes second to Vanquish, which is pretty good given the crap being released these days.

BloodMist
BloodMist

You can tell from the demo that this makes for a perfect budget title.I'll pick it up when it drops to $20, which won't take long.

Chris_Watters
Chris_Watters staff

@raziel2kain @thegroscon Your expectation is met and your disappointment assuaged. Behold! A video review. @JohnF111 Games don't start with a 10 and get points deducted. For more on how that works, check out the [url=http://www.gamespot.com/misc/reviewguidelines.html]GameSpot Rating System[/url].

JohnF111
JohnF111

MP lag and "sometimes" voice commands don't register is worth 2.5 deduction? How does that work?

thegroscon
thegroscon

Just a written review??... so disapointed...

mojoreb
mojoreb

Finally a review! Can't wait to get this game.

evilweav
evilweav

This is definitely not a full-price purchase, but it looks fun nonetheless.

oflow
oflow

The MP is actually fun read the posts about it on the GS forums. Its not the primary function of the game though (its not CoD) but this is a good game, it has a camapign thats comparable to any of the Modern Warfare games.

Okamiiiii
Okamiiiii

From the makers of the Yakuza series huh...nice. :)

Demonjoe93
Demonjoe93

Since the MP blows and the single player is only roughly nine hours I'll wait for a good price drop before picking this one up.

_Judas_
_Judas_

Should have the Boss-emblem, and the "oh snap"-emblem, and that should be enough to push it past 8.0 :)

oflow
oflow

This review missed a bunch of points of the game but generally got the concept. The thing about this game is its a japanese still rpg. While playing thru the campaign the different things you say to your squad members change the story. It plays almost like Catherine story wise. Actually ranking up squad members also unlocks other parts of the story. The story actually changes depending on what squad members you bring in certain situations and the game has multiple endings just like Catherine. The other thing thats good about this game is the actual combat ai. The robots move and take cover, and they have different reactions depending on the weapons you use. The different weapons make a difference in the game play as well. The controls for taking cover are simple and work, it comparison its a lot better than Metal Gear's controls. Also all of the bosses fights are actually almost raid boss like. They had manythe same patterns as some of the raid bosses in WoW. I thought it was interesting pillar-humping and the ai being programmed to do the same with jukes etc. Havent really tried the online yet but I'm thinking its probably something like UNcharted or SpaceMarines co-op modes which are kinda fun. Dont really think it was meant to primarily be an mp game.

Goyoshi12
Goyoshi12

Wow, I'm surprised. :shock: I was talking with another GameSpotter some time ago about the demo of this game and I asked him if it was kind of a Mindjack game in that the concept was interesting but the execution was pretty much a failure and the GameSpotter said, in HIS opinion, that it pretty much was. :| So, yeah, I'm quite shocked...and quite glad that I'm shocked. Good to see that the game did better than expected. Grats to the fans for GameSpot approval. :P

finalfantasy94
finalfantasy94

I loved this game. I agree with some points. Though im disapointed it didint get a boss emblem since I feel it deserves one.

krishnaV_
krishnaV_

Was expecting a little more that 7.5. Ah well, Ill check it out post Mass Effect 3 and Raccoon City.. :D

Mikey2K10
Mikey2K10

 @Crossel777

 Me too. Rented it but didn't finish it in time. Definitely going to pick it up.

Pukshd
Pukshd

@bakasora Yeah, if you just play, pay attention on the plot, dialogue, i shure your opinion gonna be different.

santinegrete
santinegrete

Gamespot is to bitchy about MP function or the subjective fact that "it should be there"

Binary Domain More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Binary Domain is an original squad-based shooter by Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator behind the Yakuza series.
    7.9
    Average User RatingOut of 938 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Binary Domain
    Developed by:
    Devils Details, Sega
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Open-World, Adventure, Action, 3D
    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