Wednesday, 28 March 2012 08:19
Games - Games
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While it might have been on the market for more than a month now, I still haven’t had the chance to play SEGA’s third person robot shooter Binary Domain, thanks to a screwup by customs, Royal Mail and the UK based online vendor where I tried buying it first. Which is my apology for not having written anything about the game I personally made out to be my ‘anti-Mass Effect 3’ yet. So, while the tide of writing (and angry screaming) about Mass Effect 3 is now slowly dying down, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy - this time ordered at another retailer who will hopefully deliver what the first one did not.
Why am I eagerly awaiting this game, and how on earth can I have this heretic notion of such a bland rip on Gears of War being my anti-game-of-the-year-game? First of all, Binary Domain is developed by none other than Toshihiro Nagoshi, the lead developer behind such gems as the Ryu ga Gotoku games, known as ‘Yakuza’ outside of Japan. He also had a leading position in the development of Vanquish, that delightfully silly, over the top supershooter from Platinum Games, developed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame (yes, that franchise is called ‘Biohazard’ in Japan, but namedropping one ‘original’ title per article is already snobbish enough, thank you). So there’s the human element behind Binary Domain that has me excited. The Yakuza games are strong entries to a genre that doesn’t really have a peer or close definition. They’re the closest to JRPGs that I’m willing to play these days and they are actually quite good and very enjoyable games, if you can stomach the occasional bout of Japanese sillyness, and some technical shortcomings compared with the games coming out of western development studios.
Binary Domain is a strange fruit. It’s a game that quite obviously channels some Gears of War in it’s mechanical DNA. There are chest high walls, there are squadmates to order around and a ton of baddies to dissect with a trusty assault rifle. I’ve been there, I’ve played that game. But I still manage being excited. It’s the fiction of the game that pulls me in. An interesting mix of Blade Runner, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (and Hideo Kojima’s legendary ‘Snatcher’ - which incidentally was based on similar sources), a cyberpunk, near future Japan as a setting, and questions about what can be summarized as ‘transhumanity’ make up the thematic package that Binary Domain ships with.
While the main protagonists tend to fall into that dreadful token ‘been there - played that’ territory I usually try to avoid in games, it’s still an interesting approach to the whole thing. Yes, the main guy is a grizzled, bald space marine guy. There is also a token black guy and a equally token-ish girl. But those people being American military people sent to Japan to investigate a robot uprising is what makes this potentially more than the usual bro-fest. My hopes are on a not too awkward outside-perspective on the way Japanese developers approach western audiences these days. Binary Domain is clearly Nagoshi’s most western-centric title yet.
Like the audience, the characters are strangers in the Land of the Rising Sun. I’m interested to see how this will be handled. Also, given the pre-release trailers and cutscenes, the Japanese take on the whole western blockbuster style game seems noteworthy. Potentially cringe inducing maybe - if they haven’t done their homework - but surely more interesting than most other games out there at the moment.
What do I think is it that Binary Domain has that enables it to take on the industry juggernaut from BioWare/EA? Well, I’m not delusional and surely don’t think it has a chance against Mass Effect at the sales front. I admit, declaring this fringe title my ‘anti Mass Effect’ has probably more to do with my falling out with that franchise than with the actual quality I’m hoping to find in Binary Domain. Of course it would be nice finding Binary Domain doing things better at least in the mechanics department than Mass Effect. Essentially this notion boils down to my having lost interest in the BioWare franchise and being grateful that there actually were other games out there that I would have been able to play while the rest of the world kicked the Reapers’ shiny metal butts. Oh well. Guess that didn’t work out, but it’s not this game’s fault that it didn’t arrive here in time.
After playing Vanquish, which is really balls-to-the-walls crazy, I’m hoping for Binary Domain to scale that crazy back a notch and giving me more of a meaningful story. Not that I dislike Vanquish, mind you, but I’m expecting something very different from this here game. Also it had a trailer featuring music from U.N.K.L.E. - anyone knowing me will understand that I cannot possibly resist that. I’m only human after all.
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While it might have been on the market for more than a month now, I still haven’t had the chance to play SEGA’s third person robot shooter Binary Domain, thanks to a screwup by...
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