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Bionic Commando Has Multiplayer

And it's actually pretty fun. Read all about it!

This isn't actually the multiplayer.
This isn't actually the multiplayer.
I don't cotton to the idea that you need to shoehorn multiplayer into every single action game that lets you shoot a gun from the first or third person, out of this sense of obligation to always complement a strong story component with some rote deathmatch modes. Plenty of action games turn on mechanics or senses of atmosphere that don't lend themselves to a multiplayer environment. The Chronicles of Riddick is a good example of an amazing action game that got along just fine as a solo-only experience.

Bionic Commando (the new one, not the remake) seemed like that kind of game to me, relying as heavily as it does on its arm-swinging mechanic that makes you navigate the game's environments meticulously, looking for viable grapple points to latch onto as you swing from one ledge to the next. Keeping up with your grappling while you're swinging every which way seemed like it would get in the way of aiming at and shooting other players with any effectiveness.

Until I got my own hands on the multiplayer, anyway. As it turns out, Bionic Commando's grappling system does enough of the work for you that you can pretty much hold down the L trigger and vaguely point it in the direction of the thing you want to swing from, and the arm will do the rest. Playing like that over the course of about 90 minutes, I had enough "holy crap" moments, where I saved myself from a fall with the arm without even realizing I was doing it, to figure that, yeah, this works pretty well. The arm physics and control feel really natural, and there are some great animations to go along with the swinging, like flailing legs and an arms-wide swan dive maneuver when you leap off a high ledge.

Capcom only let me try the basic deathmatch mode, which plays out about like you'd expect. The demo level was set on top of a group of skyscrapers (so there were plenty of opportunities to go flailing into the abyss) and the weapon pickups were scattered around in set locations. One nice arm-related feature let me aim at and grapple onto a weapon or armor pickup from a few feet away, so I could grab some new guns without actually having to run all the way up to them.

Wait, is there flying in this game?
Wait, is there flying in this game?
You can also use the arm against human players the same way you can in the single-player, by latching onto them, hopping up in the air, and then retracting the arm feet-first to deliver a boot upside the head. In the current version, this didn't do a lot of damage and usually wouldn't kill a dude if you hadn't worn him down a good bit with weapons already. The risk-versus-reward of actually managing to grapple a guy is high enough that I hope GRIN rebalances the attack and makes it an instant kill in the final version. (On the upside, the dude goes flying--but you don't currently get a kill when they hit the ground. I hope that changes.) There's another arm-related ability called kiting that wasn't in this build, which sounds like it will let you tether a guy and auto-aim at him to unload with your current weapon. Speaking of, the weapon lineup in here was pretty basic: starting pistol, shotgun, grenade launcher, sniper rifle.

The most interesting-sound parts of Bionic Commando's multiplayer were the ones that weren't working in this build. One is an experience system that looks similar to Call of Duty 4's. You get XP for each kill, with multipliers coming into play when you get more than one kill quickly, kill someone in the air, or kill them with a zip kick or melee attack. Capcom wouldn't say what these points are going to be good for. The adrenaline meter from the single-player game will also show up in the multiplayer and let you unleash some kind of snazzy attacks when you fill it up, but again, not in this build. Lastly, there will be at least one more mode, king of the hill, which will have everyone trying to

I'm still more excited about the single-player stuff in Bionic Commando, especially with Rearmed currently tearing up the charts, but it's good to see the multiplayer is more than an afterthought. Once the experience system and more maps and game modes are implemented, it might turn out to be a welcome way to extend the game's life once the story is done. Here's some new footage from the single- and multiplayer modes (thanks to GameTrailers, who also has a better HD version.)

  


Lastly, Capcom continued its delightful descent into madness with these instructional graphics, in case you can't figure out how to play the game. They speak for themselves.

Shoot!
Shoot!
Zip!
Zip!
Swing!
Swing!
Swing some more!
Swing some more!
Death from above?
Death from above?










Brad Shoemaker on Google+