You either love or hate it.
Story continues the story of Nathan "RAD" Spencer, who was the first Bionic Commando in the NES classic released in the late 1980's. After the fall of the Imperials the public grew restless about mechanically enhanced people and eventually Spencer is sentenced to death for crimes he didn't commit. But after five years of imprisonment a group of bionic terrorists launch a nuclear attack in Ascension City and so Spencer is called on duty. On the way he'll learn the fate of his missing wife and a lot more backstory about bionic people as well. Characters are mostly over the top, which was the way of the 8-bit era, but luckily the corkiness has been brought down to a modern level.
Story is poorly told, because a large part of it comes in the form of text files of which you gain as you progress. Cutscenes are melodramatic and the dialog is sometimes laughable. It doesn't matter much though, because most of the story is told via radio chatter between Spencer and his superiors. Even if the drama is poorly told, the story never takes too weird leaps of logic and in the context of a game it all comes together nicely as a whole.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Graphics are not the best you've seen, but at the same time the environments are large, detailed and contain a rich color palette. Scenery also changes often so all the way from beginning to end it's just a pleasure to navigate in these environments. The animation of characters can sometimes be a little clunky, but at least Spencer himself moves very smoothly. Music relies heavily on nostalgy, but music is fully orchestrated and voice acting is mostly good. Unfortunately the voice of Spencer himself is done by Mike Patton from Faith No More and he tries too hard to capture that Solid Snake sound from Metal Gear Solid series. As a whole the audio visual presentation of Bionic Commando is passable, but not super great either. It's the gameplay that matters.
CONTROLS AND GAMEPLAY
Spencer's arm is of course the star of the show and all the environments are designed just to showcase its capabilities. Navigating in these linear environments is extremely fun once you get the hang of things. You must really enjoy swinging, because otherwise you will hate this game. Bionic arm is not limited to swinging, since it is used in combat and solving puzzles as well. My personal favourite as a weapon is to lift a car high above and then smash it against my enemies.
Shooting on the other hand is not so great. Guns just lack punch and mostly their ammo runs out before you've cleared the opposition. This means that you need to learn how to fight by using your bionic arm and once you do it's very rewarding.
In the course of your journey you'll get to do lots of Challenges, which enhance your Commando's abilities and unlock many achievement points to your gamerscore. Challenges also encourage you to play the game in a way it was meant to be played and most of the time it also saves a lot of ammo.
There are a few boss fights, but unfortunately they are concentrated towards the end of the game. A more equal distribution of them would have been a better design choice.
You may not see it just by looking at it, but Bionic Commando is a very linear game. This is because wrong areas are full of deadly radiation which kills Spencer in just a few seconds. This linear nature keeps the game moving forward, but many times I wished that I could just swing around and explore.
SAVING AND REPLAY VALUE
Save system uses checkpoints and sometimes they are just too far apart. This becomes a problem especially in higher difficulty settings Hard and Commando. The way to get past these irritating parts is just to get better, but fortunately in time you will get better.
I also strongly recommend that you do NOT install Bionic Commando to your Xbox360 HDD. For me it slowed things down and at one point the game just froze in the middle of a save screen. I had to reboot my console and in the process the game deleted my saved file. Luckily it happened at the beginning of the game so it took only a small amount of time to replay it from the beginning.
Replay value is seriously hindered by the fact that you can't replay previous levels and collect items or perform special moves you might have missed. Or actually you can in Level Jump, but you can't save ANY progress you might make while playing in Level Jump. Also if you complete a challenge and then die before reaching a checkpoint you need to do that challenge again. I just don't understand why they chose to do such a thing.
Multiplayer component is very standard in terms of modes, because only Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are available. The catch here is the bionic arm, because players are constantly hopping all around in these giant maps, collecting weapons and shooting each other. It's not going to keep you busy in the long run, but for a while there's fun to be had here.
Bionic Commando is a linear third person action game that takes some aspects from Prince of Persia, Metroid and a little bit of Gears of War. All of this is made better with nostalgy and great gameplay mechanics with the bionic arm. Difficulty can at times cause headaches and the replay value is very limited, but there's just so much stuff done right that you should definitely check this game out.
Welcome back Nathan Spencer and let's hope that we will see a sequel in the future.