E3 2011

E3: Binary Domain

| 8 Jun 2011 19:53
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The machines have risen, and are grabbing your leg.

In 2080, robots have been created to help build a city on top of Old Tokyo, but those machines have been acquiring more and more human traits, which is increasingly problematic for the actual human population. Though some of the machines are still clearly robotic, others can now pass for human and are integrating themselves into society. You and your team must go after the creator of the robots and stop them.

The level I got to play from Binary Domain was combat-heavy and showcased the more robotic-looking machines that you'll be fighting. They're determined little suckers who, one presumes, don't feel remorse or pity and will never, ever stop. The game features procedural damage, so if you blow off a robot's head, it will walk around confused, but if you blow off its arms, it won't be able to aim a gun at you anymore. Just because they're in pieces doesn't mean they give up, though; I shot off one robot's legs, then looked down moments later to discover that it was hanging on to my ankles, keeping me stuck in place.

You'll collect different allies and be able to choose who you'd like to have in your party before tackling a particular level. Different characters naturally offer different benefits, and Binary Domain also features a trust mechanic that could affect how well your squad performs. You'll occasionally be presented with a dialog or combat option, and what you select will either raise or lower your party member's faith in you. The example I saw was unfortunately pretty predictable. Your lunkhead companion checks out your female party member and comments on her relative hotness, and he is most pleased when you agree that tappin' that ass would be a swell thing to do. It wasn't put as crassly as that, but it was an uninspired bit of dialog, just the same. Your choices might please one character while pissing off another, so watch your mouth.

The combat was the kind of fire, duck behind cover, run to next spot firefighting that has become commonplace for third-person shooters. The ability to issue basic commands to your squadmates adds a bit of strategy, but you can't do much more than tell them to regroup or fall back.

The demo ended with a big boss fight starring a robot as tall as a building. Well, actually, not quite as tall. To take him out, we first had to shoot off a bunch of his armor, then I had to make my way up a nearby building and jump onto his head. Once I was onboard, I had to aim at his robot brain with the left trigger, fire with the fight trigger, and keep my balance with the left stick as he thrashed from side to side. It wasn't as awkward as it sounds, but it wasn't particularly cool, either.

The biggest issue with Binary Domain was that it just felt utterly flat and uninspired. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't all that interesting,either. Running through bombed out buildings, shooting yet another rocket launcher or machine gun isn't all that fun, even if you can shoot out a powerline to electrocute the robots walking through a puddle. The game itself seems to have several good ideas and what could be a fun story, so perhaps it was just a case of choosing the wrong way to show off the game.

Binary Domain is due out for Xbox 360 and PS3 in February 2012.

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