Bionic Commando (2009 video game)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Bionic Commando is a 2009 action-platform video game, part of the Bionic Commando series. The game was developed and published by Capcom in collaboration with Swedish developer Grin. The game is a sequel to the 1988 NES game Bionic Commando, with certain storyline elements taken from its 2008 remake Bionic Commando Rearmed. The game runs on Grin's own 'Diesel' engine. The console versions were released in North America on May 19 and in all PAL territories on May 22, 2009, and the PC release shortly thereafter.
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Bionic Commando is an action-adventure game, in which the player controls player-character Nathan Spencer. The game uses several mechanics (primarily radiation) which act as barriers. These barriers are used to keep the players within the confines of the linear level design. Nathan Spencer is able to target enemies while hanging, climbing a building or even in mid-swing, while using an implement called the Bionic Arm which can also be used to attack enemies at close range. The bionic arm can be used to grab and launch objects such as boulders and cars at enemies. In addition, he is equipped with boots that enable him to kick said objects at enemies. These boots are also the reason Spencer does not take damage from extremely long falls.
The events of the game take place ten years after the original game. The game follows Major Nathan "RAD" Spencer (voiced by Faith No More singer Mike Patton), a government operative working in the fictional Ascension City and an Operative named Joseph Gibson aka "Super Joe" (voiced by Steven Blum) for the Tactical Arms and Security Committee (T.A.S.C) that trains bionic operatives like Spencer. After he is betrayed by his own government and falsely imprisoned, the Great Bionic Purge begins. Before his execution, an experimental weapon detonates in Ascension City, unleashing an earthquake along with a radioactive shock wave that leaves the city destroyed and wiping out its populace. The terrorist force known as the "BioReign" claims responsibility, threatening invasion. Spencer is freed to redeem his name along with the T.A.S.C's and is reunited with the bionic arm of which he was stripped.
During flashbacks the player learns that two years prior Spencer and his bionic partner Lt. Jayne Magdalene failed to eliminate two rogue bionics who had allegedly murdered a handful of people. Spencer resolved to help the two bionics escape when he and his partner discovered that the FSA were actively rounding up and forcibly rehabilitating bionics; something that both Spencer and Magdalene were themselves. Soon after the two rogue bionics and a wounded Lt. Magdalene escaped, Spencer was arrested by the FSA and sentenced to be executed for his treason.
Returning to the present, Gibson releases Spencer on the condition that he assist the FSA against the threat to Ascension City. When given this ultimatum in exchange for his freedom, Spencer initially turns it down, but Gibson tells him he has knowledge of Spencer's missing wife. As Spencer progresses through Ascension City, he discovers information on Project Vulture, a super weapon being sought after by the terrorists. Spencer is ordered to retrieve the item before the Bio-Reign terrorists can. After finally gaining access to the item, he is betrayed by Joe who reveals himself as the leader of Bio-Reign. Joe has also enlisted the help of Gottfried Groeder, a character introduced in Bionic Commando Rearmed.
Joe then reveals that Spencer's wife never left, and alludes to the concept that she is actually part of Spencer's bionic arm. According to Super Joe, in order for bionics to work perfectly, they have to sync with their host on both an emotional and physical level. In this case, Spencer's wife was the perfect candidate. After this revelation, Spencer hastens his pursuit after Joe who activates Project Vulture before Spencer reaches him. Magdalene tries to stall Super Joe, now in a Bio-Mech suit, but she is killed while Spencer is forced to helplessly watch. In a fierce mid-air battle, Spencer kills Joe and ultimately stops Project Vulture. He falls back into the hole of The Vault from which he, Joe and the vultures had ascended earlier.
In the epilogue a brief conversation in Morse code is shown between the sniper (Thomas Clarke) who'd been following Spencer, and an unknown party. The first message reports that the Vault had been occupied and the Vulture Sentry System had been "disabled" before requesting further instructions. While the coded reply was not decrypted from Morse code for the audience (encrypted message is in German once decrypted), it apparently reveals the following declaration in response: "Execution of Phase Two Prepared. Activate Project Albatros [sic]."
A comic book tie-in was written by Andy Diggle, with Colin Wilson providing the art. In the weeks leading up to the title's release, every Wednesday a new page was posted on the game's website. These single pages were collected in a thirty-five page comic, which was offered as a bonus for pre-ordering the title. After the game's release, a monthly comic was published by Devil's Due Publishing. Heather Mills was approached to help work on the game due to her work with amputees, but could not reach a compensation agreement with the developers. Players can also use a code found in Bionic Commando: Rearmed to unlock a skin of "RAD" Spencer from the original game with short red hair, green blazer and converse like shoes. A similar unlock, the 'Prototype Weapon,' was also available via BCR.
Capcom's Keiji Inafune described the working relationship with Grin as "messed up", a situation which had arisen in previous instances of collaborations between Japanese and western developers. Similarly Capcom president Haruhiro Tsujimoto stated: "Our experience with Bionic Commando has demonstrated the difficulty of outsourcing the development of new title to overseas companies".
The soundtrack for the game was generally well received. Kotaku described it as "suitably epic as well, with classic Bionic Commando music remixed into the sort of score you'd expect from a big-budget action flick." Also available is the single rock and roll remix, "The Bionic Jam", created by artist vertexguy (Chris Kline). This appeared as a bonus track in the first mission, playing on a radio sitting on top a desk.
Gamers who pre-ordered Bionic Commando from GameCrazy had a chance of winning a limited number of '80s-style metal lunchboxes.
In Australia, anyone who pre-ordered the game received a Nathan Spencer figure by NECA.
Appearance in other media
Spencer appears as a playable character in the crossover fighting games Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, sporting his look from the 2009 game. Dameon Clarke provides his voice.
Bionic Commando has received mixed to positive reviews. Giant Bomb gave it 4 stars saying you'll either really love it or end up hating it. IGN gave it an 8.0 praising the visuals, and unpredictable storyline. GameTrailers gave it 7.7. Game Informer gave Bionic Commando a 6.25/10 (with a second opinion of 5) in its June 2009 issue. X-Play gave it a 3/5. Gamespot gave it 6 out of 10, saying "Bionic Commando has some enjoyable moments, but consistent fun always seems just out of arm's reach". The plot twist drew criticism and mockery from Gamesradar, Zero Punctuation and Game Informer.
Bionic Commando was released on May 19, 2009, and sold 27,000 units, in the U.S., during its first month. In comparison, Terminator Salvation, which received worse reviews from critics, sold 43,000 units in the same length of time. VideoGamer.com's James Orry notes that the game "could end up being Capcom's first major flop in the high definition era."
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- Bionic Commando official website
- Grin official website at the Wayback Machine
- Publisher Capcom's official website