Bionic Commando Update: Multiplayer Hands-On

Capcom lets us try some bionically enhanced rumbling in the upcoming update of its platforming classic.

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if a pack of bionically enhanced supersoldiers were thrown into an arena packed with weapons? If so, Capcom is offering one potential answer with the multiplayer mode in Bionic Commando. While we've covered the single-player game extensively since its announcement last year, we haven't had the chance to try its multiplayer mode just yet. This changed recently on a recent visit to Capcom where we had the chance to swing and shoot in the multiplayer demo that's going to be shown at Leipzig this week. Although the demo was a little on the thin side, with one level and one game mode, it gave us an idea of what to expect from the game.

The demo, clearly meant for a Euro audience with its German text, provided a small portion of a ruined city that met our deathmatch needs. Although the final game will support online play, the demo was set to a local LAN game. The matches we tried varied in number of players, although the final game will support a maximum of 10. While Capcom isn't releasing any new info on the additional multiplayer, reps told us to expect a greatest hits of multiplayer action that should include such fare as King of the Hill.

Maybe you should point that blue laser a little to your left.
Maybe you should point that blue laser a little to your left.

The action was what you'd expect from a deathmatch game in the BC universe: running, shooting, and swinging, with some bionically enhanced punching thrown in for good measure. To help out with the killing, there were several different pickups strewn throughout the level. Green pickups restored health in varying amounts. Armor pickups granted some added durability and let you take some more gunfire before dying. However, the more important pickups are weapons. In the demo, we were able to grab a shotgun, grenade launcher, sniper rifle, and machine gun. Each weapon comes with limited ammo so efficiency is key, especially in the case of the grenade launcher, which is a one-hit kill if aimed properly.

Of course, a multiplayer game wouldn't be much without control, and BC offers a solid system. You'll move with the left analog stick, although hitting the D pad will let you turn in 90-degree increments, which can be key during a close-quarters fight. You'll aim and change your camera view with the right stick. Clicking the right stick tightens up your view for fine aiming. When you've got a sniper rifle equipped, clicking the right stick zooms in your view. You'll jump and pull your arm's line in with the A button. The B and Y buttons are for melee attacks when you want to get up close and personal. The left trigger will shoot your arm's cable out, while the right trigger fires your equipped weapon. The right bumper will open up a radial weapon menu so you can use it to pick your available weapon of choice or quickly equip the next weapon in line when tapped.

While the weapon business was pretty typical, we really liked how the arm was worked into the mix. In addition to the standard melee punches, you can use your arm to pull off special attack combos. One, called a punch-up, lets you juggle an opponent in the air then jump up and smack him down. Another, a zip-kick, uses your arm's cable to latch onto a foe and slam into him at high speeds. Better still, you can use your arm's cable to keep hold of an enemy and slow him down--allowing you to better aim.

One thing to note on the demo we played is that, while the action was playable and fun, there was actually quite a bit not in yet. On the weapon front, the tarantula rocket launcher, which lets you lock on to and fire at multiple targets, as well as proximity grenades, will be included in the final game. More importantly, there is the adrenaline system, which will let you charge up a meter that will let you perform various powerful special moves with the arm.

Ahh… what a view. The city is lovely from up here.
Ahh… what a view. The city is lovely from up here.

The demo we played ran well, although it had the expected array of rough edges here and there. The environment had a good amount of detail and featured plenty of places to use your bionic arm's cable for swinging. The character models were a bit on the plain side, but we reckon there will be some measure of customization in the final game, along with more variety in models. The special effects for the weapons were coming together, although they were still a bit understated for our tastes. Still, incomplete status notwithstanding, we were pleased to see the game run so smoothly.

Based on what we played, Bionic Commando's multiplayer will offer a solid dose of face shooting and bionic-arm-enhanced mayhem. The deathmatches seemed fine, although the size of the level we played in begged for a full 10-player match. The control is good and tight, especially the things you can do with the arm, while the pickup selection is modest but effective. From what we can tell, Bionic Commando's multiplayer is shaping up to be a nice complement to the single-player game. Bionic Commando is slated to ship later this year for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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