Binary Domain
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: Single player, online co-op & multiplayer.
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Binary Domain is a squad-based third-person-shooter, released around the same time as the more story driven squad-based third-person-shooter Mass Effect 3, so pretty much got lost in the wake of Commander Shepard's adventures.

The game is set in the near future in a world controlled by corporations and robotic technology that has blossomed to the point where an irresponsible company has started making illegal robots that are indistinguishable from people, and in some cases they believe themselves to be human. In order to stop this sort of Bladerunner-ish thing going on, rather than pursue any tedious diplomatic solution, you play one of a group of tough ass-kicking mercenaries with guns sent in to stop them.

What this game does really well is allow the player to shoot bits off robots. Shoot off an arm, they'll keep coming. Shoot legs off, they hop or crawl towards you, determined Terminator-style. Shoot their heads off, they get confused and attack other robots. If you like shooting robots, a lot, over long periods of time, you'll be in your element. Disappointingly, the unsuccessful elements of the game detract from what could have been a perfectly fine title.

One of the big selling points of this game was the capability of ordering around or engaging in conversation with your squad by talking into your controller's headset. When in the thick of battle, the squad seem unresponsive to my commands, most frequently to “get out of the way!” and “stop wandering into my line of fire!”

Occasionally a squad mate would call out a suggestion, which to stay on their good side you can agree to by numbly moaning “yeah” or “OK”. If you don't have the headset plugged in, you can choose simple conversational options by selecting the left shoulder button, which although occasionally awkward to use is preferable to some extent as at least you know what commands are relevant to the situation—at least most of the time. A recent playthrough returned the conversational responses to a comment made by a squad mate as either “Yes” or “Shit”. There are few questions in the world that may be exclusively answered by those two responses.

Another major factor of this game is keeping your squad’s faith in you high by either relentlessly and skilfully shooting robots, not shooting your squad mates when they wander into your line of fire, and for the most part agreeing to everything they say. Often this is unclear, simply through bad sentence structure and double negatives. “I'm interested in fashion. You're not interested are you?” You can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to this, so is the answer ‘Yes, I'm not interested’? ‘Yes I am’? or ‘No I'm not’? As with the shit/yes question, this issue also highlights the clunky dialogue of the game. It sounds as though it has been created by committee, where some voice actors have been given a script and told to make it sound “more natural”, but without being allowed to change the script in any way to actually make it sound more natural, or intelligent, or even grammatically correct.

The positive side of the squad liking you is that if they don't they are less likely to follow orders that you ask of them, and plot-wise they are more likely to survive to the end of the story. Oddly, focusing on shooting lots of robots and pretty much ignoring anything the squad have to say is a surprisingly useful tactic for getting in their good books.

As for the rest of the game, there are few surprises. Action swaps between shooting lots of the robots mentioned earlier, boss sections involving shooting one robot (more often than not) many times in different hard to reach places, the occasional QTE (quick time event), and the clunky sections where you get to awkwardly talk to your squad mates that soon devolves into simply mumbling “yeah” at anything they say so they will be your pal.

In summary, it's another forgettable shooter with extra dialogue and morale mechanics that could simply have been left out. Good on them for giving it a try. Perhaps other developers can learn something from this, or perhaps they could just give that Mass Effect series a go. Apparently it's good...

Best Bits

- Shooting bits off robots!
- A brave attempt at using voice control for player immersion.
Worst Bits

- Few surprises.
- I think the dialogue is lousy, you don’t do you? yes/no.
- A failed attempt at using voice control for player immersion.

by: Jason Rainbird

Copyright © Gamecell 2012