By that I mean you’re purchasing every action film cliché from the 20th century in one. That was the case with Vanquish and that’s the case with Binary Domain.
Set in early 21st century, global warming has flooded the earth and forced mankind onto newly built above water cities (Waterworld). The millions who died during the floods have been replaced by robots who do the lion share of manual labour for humans (I-Robot). However, some of the robots have been illegally designed with artificial intelligence, which leads to them becoming self-aware and ultimately destructive (Terminator, The Matrix). It’s your job as a rogue ex-navy seal to hunt down the man behind this and blast a few robots along the way (anything Arnie).
The game appropriately leads you into the story with cheesy cut scenes and Red Alert style voice acting. If one thing can be said about SEGA, it’s that they know how to build a narrative. A real sense of camaraderie is apparent from the offset. The training regime doubles up as part of the first mission and your teammate ‘Bo’, the stereotypical jive talking wise cracking slightly unprofessional loose cannon but loyal as a tapeworm, barks out instructions as you learn how to move and shake.
It’s at this first instance you realise that the controls leave a little to be desired. The game’s been built with the ability to bark orders at your team mates through your headset, which is great. The flip side is only a few words will be recognized. My thick London accent almost certainly didn’t help and I doubt the developer’s factored cockney into their word recognition system. At first it’s not much of an issue, but when it’s time to get organized on the battlefield, it quickly becomes frustrating. I’m screaming ‘COVER THE FLANKS!’ and the computer is coming up with ‘THANKS!’ My teammates are paralysed with confusion as I repeatedly shout accolades at them and I’m stood there looking like a shining example of why nepotism is very, very bad.
You get the feeling that this was a bad console port reminiscent of the early need for speed days before Xbox controllers for PC were readily available. If you do have an Xbox controller for PC then I’d highly recommend you use it as you’ll spend your time figuring out if the backspace button is a shoulder trigger or the pause button. With a controller it’s very smooth and the Gears of War style covering system (remember what I said about originality) is more than adequate.
Graphically the game is passable, which sounds harsh but in the modern age of movie to game rush-jobs is not bad at all. The graphics don’t suffer at the expense of expansive maps and the level of detail on the robots is worth a clap. A real bonus about the game is that it has that SEGA quasi manga look about it, which is comforting and somewhat nostalgic in the same way watching a classic trash movie is. And this is the game’s biggest achievement, replayability. In the same way I can (and have) watch Predator 20 times because it makes me feel warm, fuzzy and safe in an uncertain world I can revisit this game because it’s a bit of mindless fun that won’t frustrate and isn’t draining. So for what it lacks in originality it makes it up for in unoriginality.