Review by Rasputin77

"Redefining “Blast From The Past”"

In this reviewer's opinion, Bionic Commando Rearmed is currently the best $10 you can spend on the Playstation Network, period, next to Super Stardust HD. And this has nothing to do with the months I spent waiting for the game, or the fervor with which I watched the behind the scenes videos that were viewable the weeks prior to release, or the simple fact that I was elated at the mere thought of replaying a classic from my childhood with a massive, current-gen overhaul. That opinion is simply based on the same, exact criteria that we judge every other video game by.

And let me tell you – if this game does one thing well, that would be boosting my anticipation for future classic remakes through the freaking roof. Grin has some massively talented people on staff, and Capcom needs to maintain the relationship with them at any cost. I get giddy at the mere thought of them reviving any of Capcom's older gems - Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Trojan, Black Tiger, Mega Man (2… oh please, oh please…), Strider, Alien vs. Predator… uh… ahh… oh. Can I get a towel over here? *blushes*

The graphics in BCR are beautiful. Nothing pops out as being too crisp, but yet everything is saturated in deep shades and colors. Sacrificing detail to create such eye candy was a smart move, and in my opinion well worth it. It's one of those games where even the font fits perfectly – nothing seems obtuse or out of place. The animation is fluid and smooth. Nuances, like the rain splattering gently on the screen, or our heroes' slight head nod to the player just before he dives into a level, are among the countless number of additions that give this title such depth.

The nostalgia factor is present in spades. From the interface of the communication rooms, to the layout of the levels, to the toe-tap-inducing musical remixes, this is the benchmark of what all future remakes should be – fresh in enough ways to excite and pull in new fans, but familiar enough to give the vet that true thrill of replaying a classic. And yes, I said classic. Banter all you want about the difference between ‘cult' and ‘classic', but the swing mechanic was truly epic – IS truly epic – and BCR reminds us of just how much fun and challenging it is.

Yes… EVEN without a jump button, lol.

The game play is top notch. With the option to select your difficulty, you can make the game a walk in the park, or make it as knuckle-crushing, patience-testing, and curse-inducing as you want it to be. As I told a friend soon after playing my first few hours, “I haven't cussed this much at a game in a really long time.” Not because it's frustrating (well, at least not consistently), but because it places such demands on the player! And I LOVE it! As an old school gamer, I truly miss that. When clearing a stage means knowing how to approach enemies, knowing what direction they can attack you in, what order to beat them in, which ones you can skip, which ones you must destroy, which weapon works best on each, the timing of their attacks, which ones you can hit off-screen, knowing how fast you need to move in a given area, knowing the timing of traps, and REMEMBERING all of this!

That's the joy this game brings, as a monumental challenge, but simultaneously as a truly fun time. Hard difficulty will probably make many of your heads spin, and Super-Hard? Good luck. If there ever was a title to test your gaming mettle, this is it. And I know a lot of you reading this don't even want to be challenged, or get overly frustrated when you are. And this is good for you. =) This is good for anyone who ever had their cramped, sweaty, aching hands wrapped tightly around the uncomfortable rectangle of plastic which was the original NES controller. We can now share our pain with you – that awesome pain that gets washed away by the pure joy of finally beating some relentless, demanding level.

It's hard to find faults in this game. There is one extremely intermittent problem though… the arm doesn't seem to do everything you want, every single time you need it to. It's a simple fact, and I've been discerning between horizontal, diagonal and vertical controls for well over 2 decades, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. Overall though, the controls ARE very tight. A quick run through some of the harder challenge rooms will prove just how precise and accurate you have to be to achieve success. However that still doesn't stop the (very, very) occasional moment when what I see on-screen just doesn't quite match up with what (I thought) my fingers did. Perhaps it's because I haven't been this challenged by a game in such a long time. *shrug*

The only other fault I can think of is the freezing issue being reported by many other gamers besides myself. It seems that while navigating the sub-menus of the challenge room mode (and possibly other times as well), you risk the chance of the game locking up, resulting in either the need for a reboot and the loss of any progress (improved time / new record), or a corrupted save file. I have no idea what's currently being done to remedy this situation, but with any luck a forthcoming patch can help alleviate some of the pain this somewhat serious glitch has been causing.

Speaking of challenge rooms (swing-based challenges completely separate from the main game), those, and the (slightly scant) multiplayer options will keep you plenty busy when you're not crushing (or getting crushed by) the missions. Between those and the increased difficulty options, the replay factor is staggering, especially at such a meager price tag.

The challenge rooms are such fun because, instead of only competing against yourself for better times, much like other games these days you're competing with everyone else via online leader boards. Although this does bring me to cite one more, small fault – for some reason, I can never retrieve any data when I try to view stage times using the Friends filter. There are others experiencing the same problem too, and I suspect it might have something to do with the number of PSN friends you have. I have a buddy who has maybe 6-10 PSN friends and says he has no problem comparing his times to mine. I, on the other hand, play too much Rock Band and try to befriend pretty much any good player I come across, lol. With nearly 100 friends on my list, the PS3 acts like it's rummaging through them all to see who has the game and who has scores for a given stage, never returning a thing, even after several minutes. Again, hopefully this will be patchable.

Aside from the tiny defects mentioned, this is a must-buy, make no mistake about it. Now stop reading this drivel, get out there, and download this gem of a title that breaks through the current trend of hand-holding and actually places demand upon the player once again!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/08

Game Release: Bionic Commando Rearmed (US, 08/13/08)


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