Binary Domain: Headless Robots And The Value Of Friendship

By Kris . June 23, 2011 . 3:01pm

Binary Domain is the next game from Toshihiro Nagoshi, best known as the creator of the Yakuza series. The trailers look to promise a story of robotic rebellion, Blade Runner-style questions about what should or should not be considered human or who should be granted personhood, and a whole lot of melodrama.

 

I finally got to try Binary Domain out for myself at E3. From the outset, the game focused on Dan’s (the lead character) team more than a standard shooter. After a brief cutscene, I was allowed to choose the teammates that I brought along with me, two from a group of four. After choosing "Big Bo" and Charlie, the two immediately started into a conversation, arguing with each other about some (hard to hear) topic before asking me my opinion on the subject. Since I was unfamiliar with the idea of using the d-pad to answer a question, I fumbled around for a second before Charlie gave up on my response, exasperated with my silence.

 

Curious, I asked the Sega representative at hand about how conversation plays into the game, and he informed me that my partners all had specific feelings about me. If I demonstrated myself to be a good leader, my allies would respect me and follow my orders, but if I led them into trouble, they would start questioning and disobeying me. While my options on the d-pad were pretty limited in the demo (just orders like "charge" and "cover me"), the brief conversation I heard while I walked through the ruins of Tokyo showed potential.

 

The demo wasn’t entirely conversation though. I quickly came across a couple of unaware robots, telling my troops to hold back. I’d been told before the demo that the robots take a lot more bullets than a standard shooter enemy, but took procedural damage. Legs, arms, and heads could all be shot off, and the robots would adapt their attack patterns. I shot the closest enemy to me in the head, tearing off the protective armor and eventually decapitating it. This left it standing with its gun drawn, unable to see. As the other robots turned towards me and started firing, the headless one heard gunfire and unloaded an entire clip into one of its former allies.

 

Surprised and pleased at my luck, I took out the remaining intact robot by shooting its leg, and smashing it as it crawled towards me. I was going to leave the headless robot as it was, but Big Bo finished it off.

 

I proceeded through the rest of the level in much the same way, hiding behind cover, taking out robots one piece at a time, and walking past the remains of enemies I’d incapacitated, not destroying them, but doing just enough damage to make myself safe.

 

Finally, I’d reached the boss of the demo, a giant, streamlined, spidery robot, looking like something out of Eight Legged Freaks by way of Apple Computer Inc. It laid down heavy fire, prompting me to order my teammates to distract it while I figured out how to take the giant machine down.

 

After wasting a lot of ammo on the boss, the game directed my attention to a rocket launcher lying on a table inside a partially destroyed building. There was no alternative method to taking the boss down. It was a rocket launcher or nothing (I later saw someone playing a demo in which they missed the rocket launcher in the building and the game focused their attention on one in a nearby truck). I took the rocket launcher and blew off pieces of the robot’s armor from the second floor of the building.

 

I then went up to the third floor, taking out the two robots in my path. My allies had been luring the spider into the right position for me to leap from the rooftop onto it. I had to use the left analog stick to keep my balance on the thrashing robot while Dan held on to its head and fired at its weak point. Finally, its power generator was destroyed, and the battle was over.


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  • No9

    Game sounds great so far! Let’s hope they can actually deliver.

  • SirRichard

    So, would you say the game is shaping up so far? Does it control well and at least try for a decent presentation?

    • Kris

      It’s… very gray. 
      Frankly, I’m not a huge TPS enthusiast, but the shooting seemed okay. It forces you to think about how you can best disable your enemies to move on rather than encouraging you to kill everything, as that takes a lot of bullets. The high damage tolerance does make the game feel like you’re shooting through robotic armor, though, so that’s nicely done.

      At the moment though, for me, the biggest hook is the story’s promise. The game itself is fine, and I really like the focus on conversation with your allies, but playing it wasn’t a revelation or anything. I’m cautiously optimistic.  

  • ikiryou

    I hope there’s customization, at least loadout choices for our team. It would be nice to have one member already carrying a rocket launcher instead of it just conveniently being on a nearby table at the right place/right time.

    • Kris

      Different characters are assigned different weapons. Big Bo has a machine gun, Faye (another character I saw demonstrated) carries a sniper rifle. I think that’s the extent of loadout choices though…

  • http://chronotwist.deviantart.com/ JustThisOne

    Glad to hear the AI and voice control part doesn’t suck completely.

    Also, anything with giant spider robots is awwwwwwweeesome.

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