Modern Hidden Gems - Binary Domain (SEGA 2012)


From the minds behind the Yakuza series, Binary Domain was released in early 2012, to almost no fanfare and very little promotion from SEGA. Despite globally positive critical praise, gamers just didn't really hear about this game enough to give it any chance of success. Which is a damn shame. And wtf Kotaku? Why did you guys completely ignore this game? I couldn't find one article, let alone a review posted here.

The premise in a nutshell; The year is 2080. Many decades ago, the earth was ravaged by natural disasters. To clean up the mess, robots were utilized, After everything was more or less returned to normal, robots became a normal part of everyday life. Laws were set in place about 40 years prior to the games events that prevent the experimentation of robot/human hybrids. You are Dan. Dan is an American ex-Spec-Ops soldier. Dan is a part of a Rust Crew. Rust Crews are small squads of soldiers tasked with enforcing the global law banning human/robot experimentation. After the discovery of "Hollow Children" living amongst the world's populace (a robot with human features, who does not realize it is a robot), Dan's crew is sent to Tokyo to investigate the Amada corporation. One of the world's leading Robotics research corporations.

Modern Hidden Gems - Binary Domain (SEGA 2012)

Tokyo - 2080

I just finished this fantastic game last night, after picking it up on PS+ for free last weekend. My expectations were pretty low going in, as I'm pretty tired of Third-Person cover based shooters, and my first impressions were rather poor. I found the writing to be really corny, and silly. However as I progressed, I realized that the game has a very specific kind of "tone" to the writing. It's very snarky, and most of the characters are kind of dicks to each other. Eventually it grew on me, and I found it to be rather hilarious at times. All of the main characters in your squad come from different national backgrounds, and some of them are just wacky (my favorite was probably the French Robot). It's slightly non-PC at times, but the overall story has a ton of heart, and asks the gamer a lot of big philosophical questions (not dissimilar to the equally excellent Spec Ops: The Line). I found the ending to be surprisingly solid, with some great twists I didn't really see coming.


As far as gameplay is concerned, that was the one aspect I enjoyed from the get-go. The basic mechanics are lifted from cover shooters like Gears of War, but thankfully, it changes things up enough to stay interesting, fun and most importantly; engaging. The ramp up in difficulty was pretty well paced, and the variety of gameplay mechanics, locations, and combat options were really satisfying. My only complaint would be that at about the 3/4 mark, the game started getting a lot easier than I would have expected. Although in my case, that was mostly due to me maxing out my main weapon with upgrades as quickly as I could.


One of the many excellent boss fights in the game


The game also features one pretty unique mechanic, that was surprisingly interesting. User's can utilize the controllers mic to issue voice commands, and to answer questions asked by your allies in non-combat sections. The combat applications of this feature are pretty standard (Cover Me, Open Fire, Charge, Regroup, etc). But where the mechanic gets interesting is when one of your NPC allies asks a question and they don't like your response, they will start trusting you less, and in combat this will make them ignore your commands. This also happens if you keep hitting your allies with friendly fire. To counteract this effect, if the user performs exceptionally well in front of his allies, or answers questions that please his allies, those allies will trust you more, and react more quickly when given commands. Voice commands are not really new, but I've rarely seen them work very well in a combat oriented game.

Modern Hidden Gems - Binary Domain (SEGA 2012)

The core cast of the game

Occasionally your squads AI can get kind of annoying, straying in front of you while you're trying to snipe a distant enemy, or walking in front of a grenade you just threw, but thankfully the voice commands help alleviate some of these issues. Telling your squad to cover you for instance will make them all take cover and stay out of your way.

I haven't touched the MP, and I'd be surprised if there were even still servers up. But as far as the SP experience goes, if you enjoy slightly off-kilter shooters like Spec Ops: The Line, Vanquish, Psi-Ops, Max Payne, etc. you will probably find something worth your time in Binary Domain. And hey, it's free still on PS+!


Gameplay trailer

Also, read this if you're still on the fence: http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/63...