The sequel to the acclaimed remake of Bionic Commando finally adds the ability to jump.
What’s It About?
While Grin’s 3D Bionic Commando may not have done well as Capcom would have liked, their 2.5D remake of the original NES Bionic Commando struck a chord with players the year before and sold really well as a result. Though Grin may be gone, a number of former Grin employees came to Fatshark to work on the follow-up that gives it some consistency despite being made by a new developer.
Besides the drama leading up to its release, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 takes place a few years after the first game as Commander Nathan Spencer and his four rookie bionics are sent out to the Papgayan Islands to investigate the disappearance of Colonel Brubaker, who was sent to confront General Sabio about his threats against the FSA. Of course, things have gone awry and it’s up to Nathan Spencer to figure out what is going on the only way he knows how.
There are a few big additions to the Bionic Commando formula in Rearmed 2, which include the jump ability, helicopter sequences, and tweaked physics for the grappling hook. Jumping is the biggest addition by far since the series has always ignored the innovative jump mechanics in far of something different that required a separate set of skills to master. Now, you’re able to jump in a way that doesn’t change Bionic Commando into Mario, but is more of a way to enhance getting around the levels with the grappling hook. The vehicle sequences are just an option to get into a helicopter at the beginning of a few levels to control the turret and take out enemies as it heads towards the end of the level, which is a nice change of pace but prevents you from getting any weapon upgrades in that level. The new physics for the grappling hook isn’t a huge change from what you saw in Rearmed, but it adds a bit more depth to the grappling controls once you get the hang of the way that they work
Why Should I Care?
Capcom smartly decided to follow-up the Grin-made Bionic Commando game that sold very well along with being more critically acclaimed. If you’ve played Bionic Commando Rearmed, the sequel isn’t a dramatically different game overall while still retaining a lot of the enjoyable aspects of the first game for most of the campaign. The ability to jump adds a news sense of mobility that kept many people at bay, though it doesn’t really change the way the game plays outside of making it a bit easier to get around with the grappling hook. The levels are well-designed so that you can still get around without jumping, which can be done your first time through along with a specific option to disable jumping once you beat the game. There are plenty of upgrade power-ups spread out over the levels that give it a bit of a Metroid vibe since you won’t be able to get some of them in the earlier levels until you earn new weapons in later levels, which adds to the amount of replayability.
There is a distinct lack of polish in the latter half of Rearmed 2 that seems to suggest that this was rushed out to the digital marketplace. The first noticeable issue is the huge spike in difficult for the last few stages that ruined the enjoyable pace that I had getting through about the first twenty stages that I’d routinely run through the ten lives and a few restarts just to get through a few of those latter stages leading up to the end of the game. The rehashing of the first few boss fights for the second half of the game wouldn’t be so bad if the framerate on the second Megacopter fight dropped to the point that was unresponsive and doing the simple things needed to beat the boss were very difficult. Then there is a bunch of screen tearing in a particular stage that takes place high in the sky that makes a really cool scene look terrible along with being overly long and difficult since it’s an extreme test of your grappling skills that was reminiscent of what you’d expect out of the challenge rooms. It’s unusual to have such a steep spike where I’d have no issues getting through most of the campaign without breaking a sweat, but then get extremely frustrated on the last few levels after looking forward to seeing a potentially good conclusion.
Adding to that, the level design is very confusing to the point that it’s not ever really clear which way I should be going without guessing and the way to reach a number of the power-ups is never really clear to me at first. A number of the power-ups and weapons that you collect are nice, though some are given to you without clear explanation of their use and purpose. The hacking arm in particular was given to me without any sense of how I use it and what its effects were since its effects are nothing like the hacking mini-game in the original Rearmed. You do earn some interesting perks that can be equipped to give you a grenade launcher, the hacking arm, defensive probes, and more that require you to bring up a separate menu to switch between them when weapons are easily switched with the shoulder buttons.
Why Should I Spend My Time And Money?
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 has a lot of great ideas for what a sequel to Bionic Commando should have, but the execution is flawed. The campaign is enjoyable for about three-fourths of the campaign and dives into the ground for the last several levels that kills the fun you were probably having for most of the ten hours it takes to complete. Charging $5 more for the sequel that isn’t really significantly better than its predecessor makes it easy to suggest that you wait for a deal if you’re still interested despite the major issues mentioned above. Anybody else that has plenty of XBLA and PSN games to look forward to in the near future can easily skip this game and see if the next releases are more deserving of your money.