To be honest, we really tried to dislike Binary Domain
. In the first few minutes, it feels like a Gears of War
clone, which tends to prompt a knee-jerk reaction in us, based on preference for innovation and original properties. However, the longer-term experience playing the game showed a really solid squad-based combat title that shouldn't really be compared to Gears
for anything other than its cover mechanic. It's like the silly patent wars going on now between tech companies; Binary Domain
may not have invented the cover mechanic, but should be able to use it without being dismissed as completely unoriginal. The rules of engagement for squad games haven't changed much over the years: Join a party of fighters who seem incapable of doing anything other than running around getting shot, and not protecting you from enemies. What Binary Domain
does right is create squad members you really come to care about, who can make you laugh, who you can talk to, and who actually play the game with some competence. Not to say there's any confusion about who the real hero is, but you can actually call for an assault or a retreat and get consistent results.
The storyline is more fleshed out than most games in this genre, although it stretches credulity a bit in some places. It's like a mash-up of Will Smith in "I, Robot" and Gears, except you play a guy who bears more than a passing resemblance to Commander Shepard. The battle against robots is bloodier than you might imagine, because it turns out some of them are now posing as humans. Yes, it's exactly as Sarah Conner predicted things would turn out. Much like Conner, you get to pack some great weapons and kick lots of cyborg butt. Not only is there a nice teamwork element introduced here, but you have the chance to outfit your team and upgrade their equipment and base characteristics. If it's starting to sound a bit like an RPG, don't worry; Binary Domain is 99% action, but it does recognize that giving players the ability to tweak characters, work out puzzles, and experience emergent gameplay, helps supplement the streams of hot lead and explosions that otherwise dominate your play experience. If you get tired of the Solo Campaign, you can jump into local co-op or online play, extending the experience and the game's shelf-life considerably. The multiplayer may feel more derivative because some of the programmed interaction with your squad is gone, but in exchange, you get a greater level of challenge and more fluid gameplay.