Binary Domain Review (PS3/360)

March 24, 2012

PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Binary Domain is a third-person, squad-based shooter from the creators of the Yakuza series. Published and developed by SEGA, the game features an optional headset functionality. Binary Domain is available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Story: 5/5

During the early years of the 21st century, the effects of global warming have caused most of the world to lie in ruins, forcing government leaders to build new cities above the devastation. With millions dead, robots were created to be used as the humans main labor force. America became the world superpower when the Bergen company dominated most of the robotic industries. However, the Amada corporation in Japan tried to sue Bergen for stealing their technology, but that case ultimately failed. As the years passed, the government passed a new set of international laws, dubbed the “New Geneva Convention.” One of these laws, clause 21, banned any research dealing with robots that could pass for humans, also known as “Hollow Children.” The IRTA (International Robotics Technology Association) created a task force called the “Rust Crew” to deal with issues relating to clause 21. Many more years passed, and a Hollow Child attacked Bergen Industries, but was wounded in the process. To their surprise, the Hollow Child had no idea that he was a robot himself. With this newfound knowledge, the IRTA sent a Rust Crew to Japan to question Yoji Amada, head of the Amada Corporation, as they believed he was responsible for the Hollow Child.

The story behind Binary Domain is a very interesting concept, and one that will keep you guessing throughout its many engaging cut-scenes. At times, the story made me wonder how the concept of ‘hidden’ robots could eventually become reality, and also made me think twice about certain choices that needed to be made. The story line revolves around the main character (Dan), a member of the Rust Crew, who eventually comes into contact with other agents of different nationalities/ governments. These members then make their way towards the Amada Corporation while tackling a myriad amount of robotic soldiers. Towards the end of the game, the story shifts depending on the character interactions you have with your teammates, leaving many players with different outcomes. Binary Domain sucked me into the game by the story alone, and pushed me through it just to see how it would all end.

Gameplay: 3/5

Binary Domain is basically a squad-based shooter that incorporates a cover system. It’s very similar to many 3rd person action games like Gears of War, Dead Space, and Vanquish, but differentiates itself with a few gimmicks. First off, the game can be played with a headset, giving you the option to issue commands to your teammates. While this is an innovating idea, you realize that some of the commands don’t always register, leaving you to continuously shout commands to your teammates until they copy, or become frustrated by your lack of communication. Plus, you just sound silly issuing simple commands to your television when no other human is around (or even when others are around).  Another addition to the game is the Consequence System. Trust plays a key role in how your teammates view the player (Dan). Their opinion of Dan is determined by how Dan interacts and responds to his teammates, which affects both the story line and game play. As you progress through the game, your teammates could offer assistance or leave you to defend yourself depending on how you treat them. The story line itself can change, and not all of your teammates might survive depending on the choices you make, leaving you “responsible” for their outcome. This was a nice change of pace to the game, as the story was its biggest asset, and made you care for the characters in the game.

However, as entertaining as Binary Domain was, it was a pretty repetitive affair; even though the developer tried hard to change the game play through its six chapters, such as rail shooter moments and vehicle sections. Yet, the biggest issue is that you mainly just destroyed robots with your main assault rifle and firearm, and an optional third weapon scattered throughout the game. It was nice to also have different types of grenades to lash out at the enemy, but it was all standard fare. There were a few moments of stealth and level interaction, but it mostly boiled down to walking into an area filled with robots, destroying the robots, and moving ahead until you need to destroy more robots. The boss battles did enhance the game play, as there were many different types of large-scale bosses, and most of the time, a strategy needed to be implemented with your team in order to survive (there are many one hit kills, so gunning it alone isn’t a good idea).  An upgrade system is also present in the game (this too is similar to Dead Space). “Kiosks” are scattered around the area that give you the ability to upgrade or purchase additional nanomites (health, armor, etc.) or weapon upgrades for you and your team. Destroying robots gives you credits to purchase the items, but you never felt stingy as there was always a surplus of money to be obtained.  Binary Domain had a lot of great moments, whether you were running and gunning, manning turrets, being chased on a transport vehicle, or riding jet-skis, yet the repetition kicked in too frequently throughout the game.

Graphics: 4/5

It’s impressive to see the robots built in layers, and as you shoot them with your weapons, they break apart into pieces revealing more of its interior design. A lot of Binary Domain is like this, with interesting set locations, enemy design, realistic looking characters, and lighting effects that gives the player a futuristic landscape to observe. There are a few moments however when the locales are bland, but for the most part, Binary Domain is a very pretty game to look at.

Sound: 3/5

There were moments in the game that drove me insane, and one particular moment that comes to mind is the repetitive comments from some of the characters. Being a squad-based shooter, teammates are supposed to interact during certain situations, but when you are trying to defend them while they are busy operating a machine, you hear the same comments again and again in a very short time period, which gets really annoying. Plus, when Dan gets wounded, he lowers himself to the ground and the player tries to crawl himself to safety as you wait for aid from one of your teammates. Yet that help sometimes never arrives even though the teammate is saying they’re coming. Still, the voice acting is really well done (although do we really need another game with characters cursing when there is really no need to curse), and the music, while limited in tracks, has a very good soundtrack that gets you into the game.

Overall Score: 15/20 = 7.5 out of 10

Overall, Binary Domain is a very good game, with many inquisitive moments during its storyline, relentless action, and interesting additions to its gameplay. For being a new title that is mostly unheard of, and not just another sequel, Binary Domain surprisingly holds its own, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future.

PROS:

+Engaging story line.

+Innovative features (headset, consequence system)

+Impressive Graphics and cut scenes

CONS:

-Repetitive gameplay

-Annoying character interaction

-Inconsistent headset functionality

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