Release Date: Q3 2008
Bionic Commando: Rearmed is an enhanced remake of the Capcom classic from 1988. Former employees who worked on the original game are serving as consultants for this remake, so the level design remains largely faithful to the source material, from the numbered world map to the level layouts.
You play as Nathan "Rad" Spencer, and you must go behind enemy lines to rescue commando "Super Joe," who had been tasked with stopping the "The Albatross," an evil plan to take over the world. You move through the levels, shooting down enemies, employing your bionic arm to quickly climb up platforms or swing yourself across large gaps.
Your bionic arm has some new abilities, which expands your options in interacting with enemies and changes up some of the gameplay. In the original, you could have temporarily repelled an enemy by aiming your bionic arm in his direction, but in Rearmed, you can grab an enemy, pull him toward you, and carry him around for a short while before flinging him from a high platform. In the 1988 iteration, you could deploy your bionic arm to grab onto a barrel, but it remained static, so the only thing you could do was pull yourself closer to the enemy. The remake allows you to grab onto a barrel, pull it toward you, pick it up, and launch it at a foe.
In each level, you'll need to find a communication center, where you can contact your base camp and/or hack into the enemy network. You must contact your command center in order to progress (they have to "update" your bionic arm with the technology to unlock the next door), but the hacking is optional. In the original game, you needed to be equipped with the appropriate communicator before you could successfully intercept enemy radio transmissions, but Rearmed introduces a hacking minigame that is sort of a "lite" version of Portal. You're presented with a giant cube that can be rotated in full 3-D, and its contents are a yellow ball, a small green box indicating your objective, small blue transporter boxes, and small red boxes that won't allow you to move. The goal is to navigate the yellow ball to the green box by figuring out the appropriate moves to utilize the properties of the blue and red boxes.
Although Rearmed is very faithful to the original, Capcom producer Ben Judd admits that Grin has gone in to revamp the boss battles. For example, the boss of the first level is no longer a platoon of soldiers but the Guard Robot, which has been renamed "The Beetle." Since the robot only shoots to the left, the trick in the original BC was to run all the way to the right of the screen and shoot the Guard Robot from behind, where it couldn't defend itself. In BC: Rearmed, you must grab a barrel with your bionic arm and toss it at The Beetle to weaken its shields before you can land a few shots.
On the numbered world map, convoy trucks travel between each level, traversing the roads in set route patterns. If you cross the path of one of these trucks on your way to the next level, then you have to participate in a firefight in the isometric view.
Given the two decades since the original's release, the graphics in Rearmed have undergone an extremely impressive facelift. Almost everything is laid out in exactly the same way, but upon starting the game, players will immediately notice the heavy bloom effect that is present throughout the remake. The plumes of fire and smoke from explosions and gunshots look quite realistic and even include some heat-warping effects. When you shoot enemy soldiers, they fly back with some rag doll effects, sometimes hanging off the edge of platforms before falling off or disappearing from the screen.
Rearmed will also offer up a bevy of new content, including a two-player co-op mode, combat multiplayer mode that supports up to four players (Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, Don't Touch the Floor), and a 50-level challenge mode that focuses on using the bionic arm's swinging mechanic to get from point A to point B. Additionally, the title provides "Assist Blocks" in the Easy difficulty level, which will help newbies learn how to use the bionic arm without the frustration of constantly plummeting to their deaths.
A new Bionic Commando title is in the works for the current generation of consoles, but many fans of the original (myself included) are chomping at the bit for Bionic Commando: Rearmed. The graphics overhaul, improved boss battles, hacking minigame, new weapons and bionic arm abilities, multiplayer support and additional content will provide immense replay value. All of this is a complete steal at $10. Don't miss it!
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