Developer: Yakuza Studio
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Price: $59.99 – Available Here
One of the most obvious signs of a technologically advanced culture is the presence of robots that actually can perform various tasks that help their masters in everyday life. However there is another belief that goes side by side with advanced robotic technology… where does society draw the line between what is human and what is robot? Where does the line between human and machine lie? Sega’s Binary Domain tackles this difficult action while also offering a third person shooting experience. Does Binary Domain offer an enlightening experience or are there a few bugs in this machine?
In 2080 AD the entire world has suffered quite a few problems, however the key issue that occurred around the world was a global flooding of disastrous proportions. This flood killed much of the world’s population and also destroyed a large amount of the large cities around the world. This worldwide disaster could only be rectified by one thing, and that is to create robots capable of performing everyday tasks, including providing a tireless workforce tasked with re-building society. As the years passed robots began filling in practically every aspect of normal life with it not being uncommon to find a robot performing tasks in nearly every building.
With the robotics industry on the rise, the various countries around the world signed the New Geneva Convention, which created many new laws for the world but the most important of these was Clause 21, a clause that would make it illegal to create any robot that could be considered human by any means. Anyone who violates such a law will be set upon by a “Rust Crew,” an international team of special agents tasked with enforcing Clause 21.
You play as Dan Marshall, an ex-soldier who has been sent to Japan with his partner Bo to meet up with other agents from various countries to investigate one man, Amada and his company Amada Corporation. This happens shortly after the realization that not only could this company be in complete violation of Clause 21, but they have done so by creating robots known as “Hollow Children.” Hollow Children could be practically anyone, as their appearances are completely human and even their memories are human. In fact, the creation and programming of the Hollow Children is so advanced that not even the Hollow Children realize that they are robots, even when they are staring right at their robotic parts once their skin has been removed.
While the storyline for Binary Domain is one that we have seen on a few other pieces of media, it is also the first game of its kind that brings up the question as to where the line between humanity and machine is drawn. Binary Domain takes this premise and creates a fascinating story that grabs a hold of your attention and doesn’t let go until the credits role. With unexpected plot twists and an enjoyable cast of characters which are given a decent amount of humanization throughout the story with most of the focus paid towards protagonist Dan Marshall and his past dealings with robots, Binary Domain will present a storyline more than capable of supporting such a philosophical premise.
Audio & Visuals:
Binary Domain is given a full voice cast with plenty of different accents to fit with their countries of origin, which fits perfectly when you first hear Cain, a French developed robot, talk with a French robotic accent. The rest of the game is given decent voice acting with side characters given plenty of variety with their voice work. The game’s background music is unfortunately forgettable and doesn’t do too much to stand out.
One of the best parts of Binary Domain is how visually impressive the entire game makes itself. As you battle through a variety of environments each area looks absolutely amazing. However this doesn’t even hold a candle to the designs of the enemy robots you will be facing off against. You will usually be facing off against standard enemy types more often than not, but there are plenty of different robot types scattered throughout the game that always keep things interesting, especially the amazing boss robots you have to face off against.
The robots you face off against are great looking, but the cast of human characters have a wide range of emotions and plenty of facial detail that look outstanding in cutscenes, only heightening the visual pleasure that Binary Domain provides.
Binary Domain focuses nearly entirely on squad based combat as you battle against hundreds of robotic enemies and progress through various levels. Combat is extremely enjoyable, though perhaps a bit simplistic in the end, as the game makes heavy use of the tried and true cover formula. This means that players can easily slide in and out of cover through he push of a button and hide behind a wall or piece of cover to avoid taking damage from incoming enemy fire.
You will have a variety of different weapons to take on the robotic horde with characters able to carry a standard pistol, an assault rifle that can also fire stunning energy blasts, as second slot to carry a variety of other weapons such as sniper rifles, LMGs, Rocket Launchers and more and finally a large variety of grenades such as your standard fragmentation to EMP and KISS (Sticky) grenades that all provide plenty of different ways to take on the enemies you will be facing.
Oh and you will be facing a large amount of enemies. Now whenever you face off against an enemy in a standard shooter, a headshot or something similar would put an end to the confrontation. In Binary Domain however you are facing a foe that does not feel pain, does not feel fear and is only tasked with killing any intruder. As such you will be facing off against enemies of all different sizes and types with a large amount of ways to put an end to you and your crew. Against most standard enemies players will be able to aim their shots and take out the robots legs to force it to crawl on the ground or even blast off its head and make it attack everything within blasting radius, including other robots.
This goes even further with the amount of various boss enemies you will be facing off against. Most boss enemies are stylized to be similar to animals and each one has their own unique battle style and weak points. Most of these boss battles do well to break up the pace of your standard cover shooting with many of the large bosses needing special tactics to take down. This usually involves frantic shooting with plenty of running around to avoid the wide-ranging and powerful attacks most of the bosses deliver. These fights provide a satisfying amount of variety to the game as well as a few quick-time events that are scattered throughout the game alongside various rail shooter areas.
Also serving to expand combat is a method to upgrade your weaponry as well as your teammates weaponry to boost their damage, accuracy, reload speed etc. These upgrades can be very useful, though there are a few times where, rather than be able to pick which teammates you want on your squad, you are forced to take specific members, which means your upgraded characters can easily be left behind for multiple levels. Another inclusion to help boost the Rust Squad’s abilities are through nanomachines which can be applied via a small grid system that allows for various upgrades that do everything from raising your health, to offering higher damage output or even allow you to gain “Trust” faster.
One of Binary Domain’s biggest selling points is the Consequence System, which basically translates into how well each of your teammates trust you. This trust meter can be affected through a number of things; such as your answers to various in-game questions from characters and also by your performance in battle. If you are doing very well in battle, earning various bonuses, getting elaborate kills or reviving your teammates the trust meter will rise, while performing poorly in battle, shooting or hitting your teammates or needing too much help can lower the trust meter.
Also included in the game is a way to provide voice commands to your characters via a headset. This can be done with the Xbox 360 headset or the Kinect, though the game is not optimized for Kinect use in any way, and simply makes use of the peripheral as a microphone that will be prone to picking up TV noise. The headset itself isn’t much better as the voice recognition in Binary Domain is hit and miss at best, with there being a few occasions where the game thought I was speaking when I was not. Thankfully, the player can still provide commands in combat or answer questions via a few button presses and receive accurate results with the same result as voice commands.
Besides the enjoyable single player campaign a number of multiplayer modes have been included in Binary Domain as well. This includes a standard competitive multiplayer mode where players will face off against one another in a variety of gameplay modes with your standard matchtypes that include team deathmatch, capture the flag, and area control. These multiplayer modes don’t really do anything to special to stand out and could be seen as a simple diversion to the main game.
Besides competitive multiplayer there is also a wave-based survival mode that allows you to face off against an endless stream of robotic opponents. These waves can get extremely difficult very quickly as the enemies unleash strong firepower early on so prepare for a challenge if you wish to survive long.
Binary Domain offers an intriguing storyline with enjoyable gameplay that pits you against a foe unlike what most gamers are used to. This unique setting and tight combat creates an enjoyable experience that only helps drive home how great the story telling is for the single player campaign. While the advertised Consequence System is far too easy to manage the level of quality found in the single player campaign provides an amazing and visually impressive experience that will be hard to put down once those credits roll.