Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
When Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 was announced at Captivate last April, I was immediately excited to see what Capcom would do with Nathan “Rad” Spencer’s new jump ability. I just returned from playing the sequel and can confidently say that Spencer’s new abilities fit like a glove, leading me to wonder how I ever played the first game without them.
Jumping is a natural evolution to Bionic Commando Rearmed’s gameplay. Spencer doesn’t have a moon jump, but his humble hop is enough to improve the game’s flow. Ledges that would normally be just out of reach are now within grasp, eliminating annoying deaths. It feels great to leap off a ledge in order to time a perilous bionic arm swing to another ledge. Jumping also makes trivial obstacles like boxes and barrels easily manageable. Hardcore Capcom fans thinking that a jump ability will reduce the game’s difficulty are in for a brutal surprise. Death is still a common occurrence in Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, though the checkpoint system is much more forgiving.
Spencer has more tricks than jumping up his sleeve. His trusty revolver and shotgun have been joined by a napalm launcher. Napalm is so powerful and proliferates so much of the screen that you’re likely to immolate yourself along with your enemies the first few times you use it. Spencer’s ground smash from the console game makes an appearance as well, resulting in a devastating shockwave.
Not to be upstaged by mere firearms, Spencer’s bionic arm can now be upgraded. Passive augments like health regeneration help soften the game’s difficulty, while active enhancements like an uppercut and grenade launcher round out the arsenal. This customization deepens the gameplay significantly, but only one passive and active upgrade can be assigned at a time. I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be able to use to ratchet up my bionic arm power.
If you got tired of the repetitive militaristic levels of the first game, you’re going to appreciate the location variety. Spencer visits seaside docks and jungle thickets in his new adventure. Each area is more alive as well, punctuated with explosions and gunfire in the background. Paths are also changed dynamically by setpiece moments, such as a boat crashing through the docks or logs rolling through buildings.
The creative and challenging boss fights from the first game make a return. I encountered a ‘roided out version of the opposing Papa army called a Hulk. This enemy wears a protective face mask which must be grabbed with the bionic arm to reveal his vulnerability. Another boss required precise swinging to avoid napalm blasts and mortar fire. The witty banter between the bosses and Spencer returns, which is always good for a laugh.
Bionic Commando Rearmed’s original developer Grin may have closed down, but fortunately the sequel’s developer, Fatshark, acquired key team members that worked on the first game. Be sure not to let this game swing off your radar, as it's sure to please fans of the original and those whole felt alienated by the lack of a jump button.
The game is due out for XBLA and PSN in early 2011.