Giant Bomb Review

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Bionic Commando Rearmed Review

5
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  • PS3N
  • XBGS

Bionic Commando: Rearmed is a superb remake that should appeal to old and new fans of the NES classic.

The downloadable services for this current generation of consoles have seen a handful of remakes of classic games. But there isn't anything out there quite like Bionic Commando: Rearmed. This remake is built from the ground up, rather than an emulation of the original with a new coat of paint. It modernizes a classic by staying true to the soul of the game, evoking the right pieces of 8-bit nostalgia in the right places, but without feeling tired or dated. In short, it's absolutely terrific.

Rad sunglasses.
Of course, I say all that as someone who has probably played and finished Bionic Commando for the NES around 50 times. While I can speculate and say that I think people who didn't play the original game will probably really like it, too, I don't fit that category and won't pretend to know for sure. But other than the game having an elevated level of difficulty that some players without NES chops may find frustrating, I can't see any reason why new players wouldn't be just as psyched.

The thing that always made Bionic Commando so rad was the way the grappling hook felt. You play as Nathan "Rad" Spencer, a soldier with an extending metal hook where his left arm should go. You can't jump, but you can launch your metal arm out and grab onto ceilings and other surfaces. This lets you pull yourself toward things and swing from place to place. The original BC still holds up because of how cool and skill-based the hook was. Timing your hook shots, like shooting it out to get airborne, then launching it again from mid-air to keep off the ground felt great. More importantly, it still feels great in Rearmed. While the timing of the hook seems slightly different (at least when compared with my memories of the original game), it still works.

Rad boss fights.
The story of the game follows that of the original game. As a soldier fighting for the Federal States of America, you go in to fight off the advance of the invading Imperial army and find Super Joe, a legendary soldier who has been captured by the enemy. The Imperials are also cooking up some kind of super weapon called Albatross, and there's talk of resurrecting some sort of evil leader from the past. Surely this can't go well, and if you remember the original game, you pretty much know who the major players really are and what's going on. You probably also remember the payoff at the end of the game. It satisfies just as much here as it did in the original, if not moreso.

The game is structured as an overworld map that lets you travel between levels. When you parachute into a level, you'll work your way through, taking on enemy soldiers, tanks, walls and floors that are covered in spikes, oozing slime that tries to wash you away, and more. At the end of the level, you'll typically fight a boss of some kind and earn a new item or upgrade. Some of these items give you new abilities that you'll need to proceed deeper into enemy territory. Occasionally you'll encounter enemies on the overworld map, which drops you into an overhead view styled after the original Commando. These encounters are pretty easy, but make for a nice change of pace.

The graphics in Rearmed have, obviously, been completely redone. They look fantastic, too, primarily because of how colorful the game is. As you get deeper into enemy territory, you'll run into rooms with great, dramatic lighting. The game also makes enough visual references to the old game to trigger that feeling of nostalgia, but it never uses the old stuff as a crutch. The same goes for the soundtrack, which does a great job of remixing the music of the original game, as well as using the Commodore 64 version of Commando's music as inspiration for the overhead levels. I won't hear arguments on this absolutely true fact: the music in Commando on the C64 is one of the greatest pieces of game music ever produced.

In addition to the main game, BCR also has a collection of challenge rooms that take the game's swinging and movement mechanics and apply them to a puzzle-like race against the clock. The time requirements can get absolutely ruthless in the later challenges, but this is still a perfect application of the game's best mechanics, and seems like the sort of thing that would make for meaningful downloadable expansions after release.

Rad Spencer.
The game also offers two-player co-op and a set of modes for up to four players. These are both fantastic ideas, and the competitive multiplayer has a lot more to it than you'd expect from a $10 downloadable game, but unfortunately the game doesn't offer online multiplayer in any of its three versions. The only online player interaction comes from leaderboards, which only appear in the console versions of the game. Your score for each area is posted online, as well as your times in each of the challenge rooms.

The other differences between the platforms are minor. All three versions have some form of achievements, though the PSN version doesn't tie into the PS3's trophy system (yet). The PC version runs in a higher resolution and has fewer instances of tearing than the console versions do, but again, that's pretty minor. The PC version also lacks leaderboards and is best played with some form of analog gamepad. Also, there are a few challenge rooms that are exclusive in some versions of the game. The load times seem a little long on the Xbox 360, especially when compared to the near-instant loading I got on the PC version.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed is terrific in almost every way, revitalizing a classic but long-dormant game in an exciting way that stands on its own, but also serves as a potent reminder that there's a new retail sequel on the horizon that'll bring all this crazy swinging to 3D environments.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
73 Comments
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Posted by MasterSplinter

This has been a great summer for downloadable titles. Hopefully Castle Crashers puts the icing on the cake.

Posted by GalvanizedNails

number after first! i want this so bad but i have a rrod right now :(

Posted by SoulTaker

Great review.  I'm really enjoying this game.

Posted by GalvanizedNails

wow, i was actually close to first! anyway, i totally agree with you splinter, i really hope i can get my xbox back soon, it picked the worst time to break, and castle crashers looks so tight

Posted by LCad

Xbox Live Arcade Summer keeps "rollin' ".

Posted by HavocHQ

It does look awesome.  I only wish I could actually play it; the PC version has had a troubled launch with last-minute changes in digital distribution means as well as a handful of game-breaking bugs.  The Bionic Commando community managers have had to create a tech support forum overnight due to the influx of people with technical problems preventing them from running the game at all - myself included.

Posted by TheToecutter

I agree entirely with everything said. This could have been released as like a full price PS2/Xbox title

Posted by FCKSNAP

I've been playing this game for hours. The game gets frustrating because I forget that holding down and the grapple button is actually straight-forward grapple. Beyond user-error, I recommend everyone buy it.

Posted by FallenFatKid

i like it but its hard

Posted by FLStyle

Has a release date been set for PAL regions?

Posted by PLWolf

Lovin it on the PS3, it's really a blast and the updated graphics are sweet.

Posted by Johanz

Superb game. First game I bought before I even tried the demo, and I can't say that I regret it. GRIN makes a fantastic job of showing developers around the world on how you make a remake that isn't just new graphics, but actually a remake and reimaging of a game!

Posted by Mysterio
Posted by Kohe321

Great review and a great game!

Online
Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

Agreed, this game is great

Posted by Evilross

Been playing it on my PS3 during any free time Ive had since I bought it last night.

I've beat the first boss and the first set of challenges (4 stars, one 5)

Amazing game. An absolute steal for 9.99. I would have paid $30 for this on a disc and not felt cheated.


Good times indeed.

Posted by JackSukeru

Just got it on the PC but will probably get it from PSN as well once it's finally out in EU. It's really nice, though my computer isn't all that great so the game slows down in some environments.

Posted by SolidKnight

You Forgot to say that the PSN Version uses remoteplay

Posted by deaux

I can't wait to get back home and hook up my xbox.  The only question is which comes first, this or Braid?

Posted by duxup

Forget the new 3D game, this is what I've been looking for and yeah it is awesome.

Posted by aknowlesjr

I've been waiting for this game too long.  I'm completely satisfied!  Live needs more remakes like this one.  Thank you.

Posted by slowpantz

i agree 5/5

Posted by Clean

I was a little dissapppointed you couldn't jump during the demo, but I might give it a chance.

good review

Posted by wrecks
Posted by PhilSebben

awesome review for a fucking awesome game.

Posted by Latentk

Whats this game about? And there better be a demo on PSN!

Posted by BombzAwai

You've suaded me Gerstmann.  I'll get it tomorrow on PSN.

Posted by elektrixx

I noticed your gamertag was already on the leaderboards when it came out, Jeff.

Posted by Milkman

I'll be sure to download this soon.

Online
Posted by zoozilla

So, why exactly is it rated M?

Posted by CaleShepard

I couldn't figure out why it was M rated either

Posted by CommieBoy

So far I love this game, altho the difficulty is busting my proverbial balls. It's all good in the end, because I will not let up until I have mastered this tough but fair game.

Posted by Ontheocho

Impossibly good game.  It brings me right back to sixth grade.

Posted by Hef

Having never played much of the original, i found this game to be really fun. I found it pretty funny actually. First downloadable game i bought since echochrome.

Posted by Turtlefuzz

This game looks really sweet! I can't wait to try it out, I loved the NES game!

Posted by Vager

Jez, I already bought Geo Wars and Braid. So many damn good arcade games in rapid succession.

Posted by SpikeDelight

I bought this game and I feel the same way Jeff does. It is just so fun to swing around and figure out the best way to beat a level while that awesome music plays I haven't had this much fun even in a $60 game in a long time. And this game is so fucking RAD too! You jump into the heart of Nazi territory with a huge parachute that says FSA and wear rad sunglasses! It doesn't get much more rad than that! This game rules! And I haven't even played the NES or arcade version either!

Posted by Kasreyn

I never played Bionic Commando on the NES but that didn't make me any less interested. Just watching the developer diaries with video from the architechture with giant bosslevels I knew from start this would be something special. I just love the puzzle elements they seem to be going for. I downloaded the demo and it didn't take long before I decided, yes I want to play this game.

Posted by get2sammyb

Just a quick heads up to European PS3 owners -- it's out now :)

Posted by ColMustard

game... is... so... fun.... I may ask for a Bionic arm for Christmas. 

Posted by Tiz

Jeff is on point. The music in Commando on the C64 is one of the greatest pieces of game music ever produced. I'm pretty sure the guys at Grin feel the same way and just had to include it. Such a pleasant surprise hear the track in the game.

Posted by Jackel2072

Yeah i do  love this game! Still am more excited im playing rearmed then the new 3D one coming out later in the year.

Posted by creamstatic
aknowlesjr
Reply to: yea, imagine Donkey Kong Country 1 2, and 3 redone with this treatment on XBLA or Super Mario World, redone like NEW Super Mario Bros (for the DS) redone for XBLA and PSN. 16:9 up to 1080p, HD juicy fruit.
Posted by McRobert

I have spent allot more hours on this game then i did on army of two and some other titles that i completed so easy and this game have been fun all the way.

Posted by dEFaNkT

mr bionic looks like he could be duke nukem's long lost brother.

Posted by mindf1ow

Gamespot gave this amazing game a 7.5. So lame. Anyway, this game is amazing. It gives honor to the NES classic, and makes it awesome all over again.

Posted by KinjiroSSD

Just a FYI; the game is playable on the psp over remote play with the ps3 and it works great.

Posted by vgmkyle

Is this a joke?

Swap this score with SCIV's.

Posted by Oemenia

D-Pad hurts though = (

Posted by John

Not a big fan of the demo, but I'll buy it anyway within the days, it looks great for an xbla game. And it's only 10$, so yeah, support this game, mind you.

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