Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 Review

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

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I’ve got to wonder why this exists. It’s a basic question that I cannot find an answer to. The first Rearmed was a remake of the NES game Bionic Commando and, while being significantly better than the big budget Capcom reboot, seemed pretty self contained. It updated and (considerably) upgraded the classic original game, but that game never had a sequel, nor was there any real need for one. I’m not suggesting every game that comes across as being self contained shouldn’t have any kind of follow-up, or we would never have gotten many of the most popular games franchises we have today. All I’m saying is, I never felt like Rearmed really warranted a sequel. What else could you do with it?

Well, someone else felt like there was still some mileage in Nathan ‘Rad’ Spencer and his honking great metal southpaw, and as a result, we have Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2. The biggest (and most contentious) gameplay addition is that of the ability to jump. Yep. Jumping. There are people on the internet whose heads have literally exploded with rage because of this seemingly harmless addition. I mean, what game character doesn’t have some sort of jumping ability? (Though I draw the line at Double Jumping. That infuriates me. Why not just have the character be able to jump that far in one hop, instead of bouncing off thin chuffing air?). The thing is, the only original thing the series had going for it was the grapple arm, which negated the need to jump in the first place, as it allowed you to swing about like a psychotic gun wielding Spider-man. Naturally, because someone decided to add a (really quite realistic when compared to other games) jump mechanic, hardcore fans instantly decided that the series was RUINED FOREVER. I’m not so alarmist (well, not much), and I have to say that for someone who only recently played the first Rearmed as a primer for the sequel, the jump is a subtle but wonderful improvement. I see no reason why Rad can’t have his Bionic cake and also eat his jumping blancmange.

The swinging controls themselves have been refined, streamlined and tweaked in ways that hardcore fans would probably decry as being ‘broken’ but, again, compared to my experience of the first Rearmed, the swinging feels much smoother, less clunky and unforgiving, and is generally more fun. One of the things I felt was missing as an improvement to the controls is the ability to fire your gun upwards. You can shoot your grapple hand up, why not bullets? You can also dip in and out of the upgrade screen in combat to switch your loadout of weapons, abilities and arm-enhancements, like a grenade launcher, a healing factor or a hacking program in your arm.

Among other changes is our hero himself, Rad Spencer, who now rocks a ‘Rad’ ginger mustache. More power to him, says I. He’s supported by an expanded cast of characters, and while he isn’t fighting against Hitler this time (sorry, ‘The Leader’), the running (jumping) and shooting is just as much old-school fun as its predecessor.

Graphically it’s really nice to look at, the jungle island the game is set on looks green and lush, with well defined environments, obstacles and people. The sound is also fantastic, a real throwback to the chiptunes of the old NES, and even I get nostalgia even though I was too young to own a NES (I started with a SEGA MEGA DRIVE).

The thing is, you’re probably not going to buy this game if you’re not a fan of the original game or the first Rearmed, and even then, your purchase will probably be based almost entirely on whether or not you think the new jump mechanic is the most evil thing since George W. Bush. Who you probably liked. Which is a shame, because it’s actually very good. If you bought a Modern Warfare game for the price of Rearmed 2, the gameplay would probably last twenty minutes, so you get considerable bang for your buck with Rearmed 2, with both solo play and a ridiculously fun co-op mode, this a game that’s being to be underrated and underplayed. And the world will be a darker place for it.

When I started this, I asked why this game needed to be made. here’s your answer: It didn’t. But despite that, somehow, it was, and it was pretty good.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 is available to download on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.

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Posted in: Games, Review