It can only be a matter of time before the U.N. holds a videogame conference. On the top of my list of things that governments should learn from videogames is that a bionic arm is a useful thing to have. Not only does its extendible/retractable hand make items on high shelves accessible, but its seamless merging of cybernetics and neural flesh also allow mental computer hacking.
The arm's extend-o-reach makes it a convenient source of transportation. By latching onto streetlamps and overhanging girders, one can swing Spider Man-style through city streets. Nathan Spencer, the hero of Bionic Commando-a reboot of the arcade oldie-can even swing using a single bionic arm while using his standard-issue organic for shooting enemies.
Nathan can even use his arm like a bullet-closing the distance between himself and an enemy from long-distance to lethal in a moment. By grabbing a foe and pulling himself toward his enemies, he can stomp them, punch them, or simply shoot them up close. Now that I think of it, the U.N. should take another hint from Bionic Commando: Don't design anything with an obvious red weakspot. Anyone with a bionic arm and some sturdy footwear can take it down, no problem.
THE GOOD: Bionic Commando presents itself with solid graphical style. The camera automatically keeps Nathan in useful view, following him close when he's fighting hand-to-hand, at portrait distance when he shoots, and wide when he's swinging through the game's huge, nonlinear environments. When he swings through the city, the distant crumpling skyline is artfully blurred, becoming a background painting until Nate swings forward into it.
THE BAD: Beautifully lit buildings would often be torn into fragments of digital motion as I swung in front of them. And although most of the game's lighting is done in real-time, there was a circle of light that wouldn't catch my shadow when I walked between its wall and lamp. The game tracks ammunition, but has no reload button. Nate's voice perpetually has the echo-chamber effect of a person speaking in a tunnel, even when he's out in the open. Etc.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Too many good ideas are too unpolished, keeping Bionic Commando from being great.
Bionic Commando ★★★✩✩
Rated Mature; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3