Wot I Think: Binary Domain

By John Walker on May 2nd, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Hello mister, can we be friends?

Sega’s third-person shooter, Binary Domain, presents itself as having more in common with Mass Effect than Gears Of War, but what does it achieve itself? I’ve played all the way through the voice-commanded robot apocalypse, and can tell you Wot I Think. Shout “MORE” to read on.

Binary Domain is a mess. From the opening moment of being greeted by a mouseless menu screen, the discovery that Enter is set for ‘back’, Esc does nothing, and the in-game controls are displayed for a 360 pad when none is plugged in, you know you’re dealing with a port for which the word “cursory” would be too optimis – there would always be the possibility that someone might misunderstand and think it lets you use a cursor. I shall rant about this important first impression, then get on with describing the game.

While you can adjust the graphics options, etc, outside of the game, nothing is available once you’re playing, including even keyboard controls. Having become completely stuck in one game menu, unable to get back, I was forced to just kill the game. Then I found something I’ve never seen in a game before. With the external options’ control scheme set to keyboard (as it was before) I scrolled down to the bottom of the list of controls, and in a sliver of a dropdown menu was the choice of how I want the in-game instructions to be displayed! I know it will sound crazy, but when using keyboard controls, I was expecting neither the option, let alone that it would default to 360. Oh, and that back key I failed to guess at? It was F. (At other points in the game, F is used for select and jump over.)

It’s important to stress that Microsoft make it extremely easy for developers to port to PC, and have an excellent system where if a game detects a 360 controller being used, will flip the in-game options to that, and if the keyboard is hit, flip them back accordingly. I’ve come to expect it as standard now. The failure for Binary Domain to do this, nor even just have a sodding in-game option, is bewildering, and completely unacceptable.

My face as I played.

The game, then. Well, if its first impression is bad, its second makes no effort to improve things. What amounts to an excruciatingly long tutorial sequence chews up well over an hour of running down straight corridors and unimaginatively shooting the waves of robots that come interminably toward you. For this is the future, 2080. The world flooded because of our fridges, and we needed labourers to rebuild, and they were robots. Two big companies formed to create them, one in Japan, one in the US, and rivalry, etc. You’re part of a task force for Geneva, enforcing the New Geneva Convention that contains a clause that says no robots are to be developed that looked like humans. And wouldn’t you know it – a human-looking robot from Japan’s corp has infiltrated the US’s. But he didn’t even know he was a robot! What is this?!

Thing is, everything I’ve just told you, literally the pre-story to the game, isn’t given to you until after that first laborious chapter is over. Meaning you’re in a situation where you’ve no idea why you’re doing anything, nor who anyone is, and feel like you’ve arrived at the beginning of a sequel. It’s also a chapter in which your teammate, Bo, says lines as hideous as,

“Guess who’s come to the party. Shame they brought guns instead of gifts.”

And when stood in front of a control panel. “What the hell’s that? Some kind of control panel?”

Those lines appear in the small pauses between his incessant barking, “Looks like we bit off more than we can chew!” A line he repeats for the entire game, at completely irrelevant moments. Like when you’re about to win a fight. However, that’s as nothing when compared to his and others’ habit of issuing instructions for what to do just after you’ve done the thing. At one point, after I shot out all the robot enemies, Bo told me to direct their machine gun fire with my shield while he took them out. Er. So we walked awkwardly across the area where presumably this set piece should have taken place, until we reached the next cutscene. And that happens again and again. Just shabby.

It’s after all this that you finally meet the rest of your starting crew: a grumpy English sergeant who doesn’t have time for your nonsense, another Brit in the shape of a gruff demo specialist lady who mostly grunts at you, and a beautiful Asian warrior, whom you immediately start leering over in the most unpleasant way. Yes indeed, you’re playing a sexist jack-ass. Which is all the more frustrating since most of the time you’re supposed to choose what he says, through the magic of voice recognition.

If you don’t have a microphone plugged in, instead the game will replace voiced prompts with keyboard presses, but in keeping with the awful porting these are madly awkward. So want to say YES or NO? Well, that’s going to require TAB and F or SPACE. Those aren’t comfortable choices on your left hand, while the right sits on the mouse, pointlessly, unable to click on the words in the way even half a rock would have thought to do. Do have a mic plugged in and then it’s the pot-luck of its understanding you. And more confusingly, it’s not active only when you hold down TAB (that only shows you available choices at that point) but all the time, meaning that when I shout, “YOU FUCKING IDIOT!” at Bo as he yet again runs into my line of fire and starts loudly complaining, he’ll interrupt himself to say he doesn’t understand.

While for much of the time it can distinguish a “No” from an “OK”, at more crucial moments it will let you down. Get the life shot out of you and an offer of an assist from a teammate can be responded to with a “Help” or a “Nope”. It’s not too amusing when the game fails to understand which you’ve clearly said. Then there’s the more peculiar behaviour where teammates imagine you’ve said something, and complain about it. I’ve isolated every damned sound, fiddled with the in-game settings, am now using headphones and a precise USB mic, and still in utter silence it imagines my demanding everyone attack. Which is of course far worse in conversations when you’re choosing a side, etc.

The overall experience is an attempt to mimic much of Mass Effect, except where BioWare’s series approaches cover shooting from the starting point of an RPG, Binary Domain begins as a cover shooter and tries to introduce some role-playing. The difference is significant, and the result feels like most other third-person action games with some terminal shops along the way. You can upgrade your and your teammates’ weapons, skills, etc, but all through an interface that offers no useful feedback about how those changes are affecting you, thus not letting you know where anyone is falling short.

The cover shooting works fine, with no original twists. Then it rather spoils it by constantly frustrating your play. So taking on a big boss inevitably means constantly being dazed out of cover, bombarded by rockets that make you drop your weapon and stagger about, slowed from running anyway, and always feeling handicapped from being the action hero you’re supposed to be. And that’s as nothing compared to the game’s constant need to take away your controls, or force you to walk at the most agonisingly slow pace.

These lead to the “social” sections, which are presumably another attempt to embrace a Mass Effect-style element (others include similar armour design and a squad from which you select two to accompany you). Here the third-person engine feels especially clumsy, and with massively limited conversation options (only very short phrases the game can understand can be used to respond, so usually your part in any chat comes down to agreeing or disagreeing), it’s only ever perfunctory. Generally the far more interesting conversations happen during cutscenes, out of your control.

This is all with the possible exception of the ability to say “Love you” to absolutely everybody, as often as possible. This tends to be received with disgust by the ladies, and shock bordering on homophobia from the men. And all I want to do is share my platonic philia love. Oh, and special mention should go to when you’re asked a double-negative. “You’re not interested in fashion, are you?” Yes/no doesn’t really help here.

Part of talking to your buddies is the trust system, which defines how likely they are to follow your orders. You can lose trust by being rude to them, or shooting them during fights (usually because they’re running in an ‘S’ formation between you and the enemy), and gain it by being nice, I guess. Between telling everyone I loved them, I mostly just said “yeah” when they said stuff to me, and by the end of the game everyone trusted me with their PINs and childhood toys, making no discernable difference to the game I experienced.

Oh, the list of issues just goes on, interspersing the interminable sequences of shooting identical waves of robots and the tiresome bosses. Playing in a window doesn’t contain your mouse, such that it constantly clicks on my other screen. This of course reaches its zenith of annoying when it then lets you click on its own close window X, without even a prompt to check if you’re sure before it vanishes. And there’s the product placement. Just look above. And this is one of so very many.

The story is being heralded in a few places. I can only assume this is by people who haven’t heard of I Robot and Bladerunner, from which it steals liberally, along with any number of sci-fi tales that question the role of robots in society/ask what if robots looked like humans. And despite the arse-burningly slow trudging ‘social’ scenes, none of the story is ever conveyed during them – just random unnecessary snippets of info while characters yell at you for not having clicked on the next door yet. It’s cutscenes and then yet another corridor of robots/vehicle chase scene with robots, ending in a boss fight.

And those waves of enemies are so peculiar. They just stay the same for the entire game, never getting appreciably any more difficult, while the characters act as though they are. Terror is voiced before another wave of the same enemies you know you can take out in a few seconds, predictions of doom and desperate cries of how we’ll survive this one. Then you take them out in a few seconds.

What does it get right? Well, the scale of the game is impressive, and the detail of the city you’re in realised beautifully. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into character mo-cap, and while there are horrendous exceptions, most of the voice acting is decent enough. It’s just a shame they’re all spouting a language entirely made out of cliché. Clichélish I call it. The game’s overall story is at least important to it, if the result is hokum, and by golly it’s going to tell it to you while not letting you be in control. Oh, and a couple of the boss fights are okay – it’s shoot at the glowy bit, repeat three times, but it’s fine. Others, however, are tedious repetition over multiple scenes that made me scream unrecognisable commands into the microphone. Robot destruction is pretty nice, breaking apart in dozens of different areas, letting you pop off heads, or remove legs, and so on… the first eighty-seven thousand times. After that it begins to be as dull as the rest of the combat.

But if there’s one thing I will say in the game’s favour, without any hesitation, is that it features a sequence where one of the NPCs has to go for a shit. I was won over for that scene at least. And to be fair, the narrative works out whichever teammates you choose to have with you, and that’s a lot of work. Clearly story elements were effected by the trust level doodah, but in one play-through, and with such a detached sense from that trust being meaningful, it was impossible to enjoy how.

It’s weird, for a Japanese game, that the Japanese are cast as the bad guys, somewhat offensively in places. A wacky French robot with a red scarf around its neck does rather define the level of cultural stereotyping that replaces actual characterisation. We’re supposed to care about one girl because our guy snogs her, but since she says or does nothing interesting at any point, that wasn’t enough to warrant my affections. And the buddy-buddy relationship between our guy and Bo is so ghastly that I’d be amazed at anyone who’d deliberately let him be on your team for any mission. Alone either is intensely annoying – together is miserable.

There’s an awful lot more going on here than in the average third-person shooter, while it falls miles short of Mass Effect. But then I never required it to reach that. Of the six or so characters that accompany you, two are vaguely interesting. And the story, in the final hour (of about 12 or so) finally becomes something a bit more novel, at last introducing an idea of its own, rather than recycling everyone else’s. But even this is bogged down in major decisions made in cutscenes (perhaps dictated by trust levels? I’ve no idea, and I’m buggered if I’m playing through it again to find out), and ultimately a really stupid and dull final moment.

But I hated playing it. I think I’d prefer if it had just been a dumb action game, because then I wouldn’t have been infuriated by its incessant annoyances, mostly terrible script, and ludicrous flip-flopping “twists”. And boy, if its voice recognition could have recognised the language I was screaming at it at its worst moments, I think it would have uninstalled itself.

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121 Comments »

  1. MadTinkerer says:

    “you know you’re dealing with a port for which the word “cursory” would be too optimistic.”

    Indeed, one would be too optimistic to hope for cursors in this game.

    EDIT: Oh crap, I should have read that more carefully. I guess the pun was too good for John to pass up as well.

  2. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    I’m getting the vibe that you don’t like it, but without a score I’m clueless!

  3. Baboonanza says:

    7 out of 10 then?

    • mikaela says:

      0 out of 1

      • Jams O'Donnell says:

        nice

        • niuwcz says:

          It appears a gypsy put a curse on me so that I will always type “project” instead of “product”.

          Can replace any tattoos!Dazzle on Colored Skin Sticker!Super! http://6url.ru/4rM

          • Premium User Badge

            Jackablade says:

            I do like this new flavour of stream-of-consciousness bot.

          • lijenstina says:

            I imagine how that will be in the future – a philosophical discussion about the socially destructive rule of the Anarcho-capitalism in some societies of Europe after the WW3 followed by a link to robot porn.

  4. psaldorn says:

    I don’t think the review understood the title of the game it’s *binary*.

    Currently the game is set to shit-mode. This can be corrected in the external settings dialogue.

  5. Sternhammer says:

    God, I just love your reviews. Not only do they give a fantastic and practical what you need to know but they are so damn entertaining to read in the progress.

    Superb !!

  6. wodin says:

    it’s OK and a bargain bin purchase. The best part is shooting the heads of robots and watching them then attack their own. Or shooting their legs off and they come at you terminator style. However overall it’s been there done that. I will say the animations are excellent though. Far better than ME3′s. Thats about it though.

    Again not a terrible bargain bin game, however as full price I wouldn’t bother.

  7. DevilSShadoW says:

    wow. That good huh.

  8. virtualmatrix258 says:

    I only played 20 minutes of it, meaning I could only withstand 20 minutes of this rubbish console port. It’s just awful.

  9. Paxmayne says:

    This game was completely under my RADAR until about a week ago. At first I was quite excited with it’s Bladerunner ish story, but as the reviews trickle in I think it’ll be another bargain basement purchase at best.

  10. nathsb says:

    Summary: Stay away.

    Did I get it right?

  11. ThatGuy says:

    Is that a Bionicle? Because it looks like a Bionicle.

  12. Max.I.Candy says:

    spot on review.
    its really bad, i dont think ive played a game in which control is taken away from you so frequently.
    from the completely pointless forced slow walk scenes to slow motion cinematic and smaller cutscenes, it delivers them what felt like every 5 minutes, after 2.5 hours of this i couldnt take it any more, that along with the “We may have bitten off more then we can chew” and the weapons and overall gameplay which is all very shit too.
    shit game and waste of money.

    • JackShandy says:

      Ha! You mustn’t have tried Kingdom Hearts 2. Back in those days we were lucky they let us pan the camera half an hour into the game! After that exertion they took control away again to give us a breather, of course.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Yeah, but there are two differences with KH2:

        1) It was never ported to the PC.

        2) Considering the Little Mermaid Rhythm Game subplot is necessary to complete the game, I think I’d rather play Binary Domain than ever try to beat KH2 again. Or maybe I’m just bitter.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Glad i read this review now. I was thinking of getting it on PC as i assumed that the failure to recognise anything i was saying when i had the ps3 version (got it via the evil art of trade ins, then traded it in anyway without playing cause of this plan) was due to my crappy ps3 mic. Just went intot he vocie training thing and it recognised nothign that i said, even shouting in to the mic.

      Kinda good to know its actually jsut shitty voice recognition

      The idea sounded awesome and i like games that do it (end war was great fun, if confusing for my housemates at the time all the tiems i was saying alpha and bravo) , adds to the atmosphere and does somethign a bit different if the game is responding to me swearing cause i just dropped a grenade at my own feet :p

  13. MadTinkerer says:

    “It’s weird, for a Japanese game, that the Japanese are cast as the bad guys, somewhat offensively in places.”

    It’s not the first time by a long shot. The 194X shooter series, made way back when there were still arcades in the West and Super Mario Bros. was an amazing new thing, featured a tiny heroic American plane shooting down wave after wave of Japanese aircraft in WW2.

    A lot of Japanese Manga, Anime, and games show a very strange attitude towards the U.S. in particular and the Western world in general*, but often enough they do cast themselves as the bad guys. It’s not that strange when you realize how often the U.S. (or at least The Government) is cast as the bad guys in American productions, and the U.K. (or at least The Government) in British productions. Children of Earth, as at least one recent example, and too many Hollywood movies to count.

    *Which isn’t entirely unfounded given what happened in the late 19th century, but everything has changed since then. At least twice.

    • mckertis says:

      I’d say its more often that we see Japanese games have Japanese villains is when the scope isnt global. In other words – Japanese bad guy is a Japanese problem that will be dealt with by Japanese. I dont recall too many examples where you play as a gaijin dealing with Japanese insurrection.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        I think this applies to other countries, too. There’s lots of US movies where the Evul Gubmint is oppressing good American citizens; not so much where it’s oppressing foreign nationals.

        • Miltrivd says:

          That’s because that’s reality, and no one wants to be made aware of what happens in real life while playing a game/watching a movie.

    • Phantoon says:

      One need look no further than the original Punch-Out!! to find evidence that the Japanese are really, really racist.

      That xenophobia is probably helped along by the fucked up situation that stemmed from WW2, what with the being forced into kamikaze planes out of desperation, the bizarre revival of bushido that mirrors the romanticism of the armored knight in renaissance times, the nigh-vaporization of two cities via atomic bomb, their having already been weakened in the past by colonial powers, etc.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Japanese xenophobia was pretty well established for several centuries before WWII. Sakoku anyone.

  14. CaLe says:

    I enjoyed playing it. The only thing that threw me off was how they call the robots ‘the bastards’ in such a weird intonation. Big Bo sounds like an American but the way he said this sounded so foreign.

    The way the robots break apart as you shoot them is extremely satisfying. The gun upgrades are noticeable and it becomes pretty powerful later on. The French robot is great. Solid 6/10.

  15. Christophercles says:

    Yes, this is a terrible console port, but it actually does some things worth seeing. The combat gets super satisfying towards the end, and the story gets genuinely interesting. Unfortunately it does all this within the space of 1 and a half hours at the end, after playing through a lot of “meh” for 8. Worth playing, but hard o recommended the PC version. Oh sega…..

    • John Walker says:

      See, I don’t think it IS that interesting. I think it’s just been so banal until then, that the sub-B-movie story it finally introduces feels like at least *something*.

      Imagine that plot in a movie… It stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, right?

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        And sadly, it would be one of those films that takes itself far too seriously. Like that one film where he did not participate but will do so in the upcoming sequel.

      • Christophercles says:

        I can’t go into specifics here without spoilers, but I think the places it goes with it’s theme (which are spelled out in the first chapter and never given a second thought again till the last), are actually deeper than anything since maybe Metal Gear Solid 2. The problem is that I don’t even know why I got to that point. The acting is AWFUL, stereotypical trash, and while I thought it was trying for that, it didn’t try hard enough. It gets to the point where you just wish they had gone whole hog with the schlock (I loved that stupid robot, who’s “character” never got closure), but in the end I feel that’s why it’s so easy to dismiss the interesting places it was trying to go. Maybe I just have a soft spot for stories about A.I, but I almost want to see a sequel?

        • John Walker says:

          I’m not sure that their having an interesting idea – which the do – translates to its deployment in the game being at all interesting. It’s like someone said, “What about if X…” and then didn’t actual do anything with it. Instead you get the confusingly one-sided and entirely unjustified prejudice against, and then it stops.

          And yes – that they should have left the robot plot hanging rather shows how little care went into it.

          • Christophercles says:

            I did actually feel offended by the choices the game was making for me, perhaps I am playing too many games that give me these choices nowadays, but I don’t think there is such thing. Isn’t that the point of our medium?

  16. Fetthesten says:

    For what it’s worth, I liked the snappy combat and the sheer variety on offer; sure, there are a lot of similar waves of enemies to dispatch, but there are also a few decent on-rails sections, occasional boss fights, some setpieces that influence combat etc. Granted, the stereotypes are dreadful but at least to me they seemed to be tongue-in-cheek. Then again, I’m a big fan of the Yakuza series on PlayStation (made by the same team), and they’re heavy on the same stereotypes and piss-taking evident in Binary Domain. Also, I really liked the variety and emphasis on skilful play that comes as a consequence of the combo system. For third-person shooter fans I’d say this is worth a look, at least if you can find it cheap.

  17. Tei says:

    I played 40 minutes after the infuriating start that made me very angry. Seems a corridor shooter, literal corridor. Advance open door, kill wave, open new door, kill wave… For this type of game Bulletstorm is much better and cheaper.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      oh yeah Bulletstorm pisses all over this. not really comparable though as that was a first person shooter :)

  18. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    It’s a good piece to demonstrate how Japanese developers seemingly fail to understand how to be popular these days though.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      my thoughts exactly.
      (excluding FromSoftware ofcourse)

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Good example. I should probably rephrase that – aiming for popularity with a certain crowd that they never had to deal with, but they regard as appealing, is the problem. Final Fantasy XIII aiming for people who liked streamlined action games was certainly one of the worst examples.

        If you were popular previously, just improve what you’re good at, and don’t try to incorporate too much stuff from other works, just so to get the people in who liked elements from that.

        • Max.I.Candy says:

          yep. FromSoftware dont need to try to be popular, they just stick to what they are really good at.
          this game on the other hand just shows how out of touch some japanese devs are when they try and do a third person shooter with western style elements.

          • Raiyan 1.0 says:

            On the other hand, Vanquish was a pretty good Japanese take on Western mechanics and cliches.

            I’m usually rather curious about Japanese takes on Western themes. Earthbound, Demon’s Soul, Vanquish – we got some pretty good stuff out of that.

          • Phantoon says:

            WRONG they ruined Armored Core by turning it from big stompy Battletech type mechs to super mobile Gundam crap.

  19. povu says:

    This review > the game

  20. f1x says:

    So its basically Vanquish meets ME gone wrong

  21. bitbot says:

    What’s a project placement?

    • John Walker says:

      It appears a gypsy put a curse on me so that I will always type “project” instead of “product”.

      • CaLe says:

        My curse is much worse. I almost always type ‘dick’ when I mean to type ‘disc’. I’ve learned to proof read my comments due to this fact alone!

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          I’ve inserted the first disc but I don’t know where to insert disc 2

  22. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    8/10

    Eurogamer

    • noodlecake says:

      Different people have different opinions. It doesn’t mean either are wrong. These things are all subjective :)

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Bet the eurogamer review was drafted on Sega stationary with a Sega astronaut pen

      • YourMessageHere says:

        ‘Sega astronaut’ sounds like one of those pejoratives Chris Morris was always so good at inventing on Brass Eye.

  23. phylum sinter says:

    Viewed from the perspective of a AAA console title, it is rather pants.

    BUT~! It actually satisfies the urge to destroy robots pretty well, has mad japanese style quirks (alongside all the ugly action-movie banter) and really does boss battles in the oldschool, arcadey, find the pattern and try not to die and oh yeah it’s not done yet because there’s 4 different modes this 60 foot tall crab-bot has way.

    I wouldn’t recommend it at $40, but if you have a 360 controller, don’t give a blap about microphone input, and just wanna have an arcade experience it’s very much worth $20 or so on sale (probably next month?) Get the demo to see how it runs on your machine, maxed out it can get pretty impressive during the bigger firefights – the way armor and other robo-bits come apart i have never seen in another game.

    • Christophercles says:

      This is why towards the end the combat actually becomes satisfying. Your rifle becomes so accurate and damaging that you feel like you’re drawing a laser beam over the robots exploding under your fire. Of course this is contrasted by the boss battles where your weapon has no discernible effect and you feel useless. $20 steam sale a definite buy.

  24. Baresark says:

    I was interested in the game. I was running around the Steam forums looking for some well said feedback about the game. There was a lot of bad and some good, but I know that Steam forums tend to be fully of negative nilly’s. Then I heard the hardest thing to deal with was the retardedly backwards mouth smoothing where when you moved your mouse slow the camera moved fast and vice versa. Then I found the demo. And I have to say the only OK part was the mouse smoothing. I set my sensitivity all the way up anyway, so moving it slow to make the camera move fast was fine. Annoying, but fine. It’s too bad every single other thing in the game was terrible. The voice recognition was a huge joke. I couldn’t figure out how to quit since escape did nothing so I had to alt-tab out and kill the process. I figured out that A was Space, B was F, Y was Y of all the strange things….. and the mouse wheel is what reloaded my gun. The game is literally broken in it’s current state. They should feel terrible for putting out such a horrible game. This lends itself to the argument that we shouldn’t just be happy to be getting a game on the PC. Companies literally shouldn’t release products without putting them into the hands of testers who are native to the platform. Testers are easy to find, everyone wants to test games.

    Idiots. I’m also disappointed that Sega (who has put out good ports in the past on the PC) let this happen.

  25. theCHENRY says:

    I kinda liked this game. Shooting robots was entertaining, and I liked the way their armour and bits blew off. Gave me the feeling I was doing some actual damage.

    I played through it start to finish, but used a gamepad from the get-go so I didn’t run into those control mapping issues. Won’t lie though, that’s a pretty stupid system.

    But I also don’t disagree with a lot of what you said. The robots are supposedly dangerous, but can be dispatched fairly easily through the course of the game. Simply put all of your credits into upgrading your weapon’s damage, and you’ll be able to annihilate pretty much anything you encounter in seconds.

    The trust system is largely pointless, since you have to actively work at being a dick before your team mates stop helping you.

    Voice recognition didn’t work at all. I turned it off. It’s entirely pointless.

    • Snake Stapler says:

      I too am enjoying the game.
      The actual shooting is Killing Floor levels of satisfying, weapons sound good and feel punchy. Setpieces are surprisingly fun enough as well and the bosses are a refreshing change.
      The game does suffer from acute consolitis and the voice control is clunky at best. Funny that the Japanese made a better shooter than CoD.

  26. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Who the hell plays with a keyboard anyway

  27. FunktionJCB says:

    Played, finished, and absolutely loved the game, so I can’t say I agree with this review at all.
    I know we all have different tastes, but I found it rather negative just for the sake of being negative.

    Yes, it’s a lazy port, made without much effort, but the game itself is rather fun, and doesn’t deserve most of the criticism the reviewer placed on it.

    I didn’t experience half of the complaints mentioned on the review, mainly because the first thing I do before playing a game is to tweak the options to my liking, and both the key bindings and what control information is displayed are options easily found before starting the game.
    The reviewer spent more time complaining about this than the time it actually takes to access the configuration menu and change the options. :)

    As for the actual game, I found the “b-movie” story rather fun (a cross between I, Robot and Blade Runner, no doubt, but with its own quirks), and the cast of characters very likeable and enjoyable, especially for an action title.
    I found the gameplay itself much more satisfying than, say, Gears of War, because of its faster pace, and a few fun gameplay mechanics such as shooting the heads of the robots to turn them essentially into allies (they can’t see who they’re shooting, so they start attacking other robots), or incapacitate/delay them by shooting their legs/arms off (after which they still won’t stop, and will try to crawl to you, grab you, …).

    Like I said, I finished it once already, and I plan to play it again very soon, to see other endings. That’s more than can be said about most titles, so clearly this game did something right, otherwise I wouldn’t enjoy it like I did.
    Hopefully more people will give this game a chance, because it doesn’t deserve the lack of attention its receiving.

    And hopefully SEGA will improve the port with a patch or two, some of the issues with it would be easily fixed, had they made a little more effort when bringing the title to the PC platform.

    • John Walker says:

      I can assure you I was not being negative for the sake of being negative. In fact, I’m not sure what the sake of being negative is. It doesn’t appear to offer me a tax cut, nor a discount at Sainsbury’s. Instead, I wrote about how bloody irritating this game is.

      • FunktionJCB says:

        That’s the thing: instead of writing a review stating your opinion on the game (positive or negative), and hopefully informing your readers about it, you basically went on and on about things that either:
        a) you could (and should) have seen 10 seconds after looking at the configuration screen;
        b) are a gross misrepresentation of the game.

        Also, I should add, you are obviously fully entitled to your opinion, but your readers are also entitled to theirs.
        You shouldn’t belittle other peoples opinions to make your point, as if your opinion is anything but just that, your opinion. Comments like “The story is being heralded in a few places. I can only assume this is by people who haven’t heard of I Robot and Bladerunner” are totally unnecessary.
        Let me assure you, I’m quite familar with both I, Robot and Blade Runner, and still I’m of the opinion the story is quite enjoyable, and the characters are quite likeable.

    • wodin says:

      The start of the game is terrible, and I feel can then taint the rest of the experience. I thought the conversations in the cut scenes where good and quite adult actually. Thought being able to tell a 15 year old girl that you want to be her boyfriend was odd. Since then I realised it was made by the Japanese so it sort of explains it sorry to say.

      Again the animations and character graphics are well done and I thought much better than ME3.

      I still say it’s a decent sale game. Get it for under a tenner and it’s worth it.

      Another issue is not finding you could set the game to keyboard. However most people will know that now. I also stayed away from the voice thing aswell.

  28. Dominic White says:

    Count me in as another that quite enjoyed this one. Yes, you have to spend two minutes in the config panel to change things to more PC-centric settings. Not really much of an issue, really. Past that, the game is a really solid shooter. Tearing robots apart is fun, and the bosses are really great designs and genuinely threatening, mostly due to great animation.

    As some others have said, I’d much rather play something like Binary Domain than yet another cookie-cutter Tacticlol shooter from the Call of Duty stable. Some say that this game is proof that Japanese developers can’t make shooters – I say it’s solid evidence that they can, and that they’ve got their own ideas to bring to the table.

  29. Craig Stern says:

    Reading this review, I kept thinking of that guy at the entrance to Costco in Idiocracy. “Welcome to Costco; I love you. Welcome to Costco; I love you.”

  30. Arglebargle says:

    Dismal awful failure.

    • CaLe says:

      Are you talking about this game or Britain’s austerity measures? The game does what it set out to do. Nothing more.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Keeping people from buying it?

        The User Interface issues were enough to keep me far away from this stinker, even before reading about the vapid gameplay.

        Poor implementation all around. But perhaps they spent so little on the port that it won’t have to sell to many on the PC to make it a profitable move. Except for the hit on reputation….

        Austerity measures I cannot comment on, but they usually seem to be a cover for some sort of skullduggery.

  31. genosse says:

    While I had some short lived fun with this game, me being a huge sci-fi nut, there were scenes I seriously wanted to mute, so my girlfriend who was sitting in the same room didn’t have to hear some of the sexist drivel this game spouts at you at every possibilty.

    And don’t let me get started on the awful “romance” scene which is just forced on you, despite completely ignoring the female crewmembers out of fear of even more sexist dialogue.

    This game is so full of stereotypes, it made me question my own prejudices as I was often thinking: “Ah, so that’s how Japanese see the world!” It felt like some kind of meta-racism. And I feel bad for it.

  32. Eraysor says:

    Completed this last week on the PS3, I thought it was excellent. The plot is actually pretty interesting, the shooting is great on hard mode (especially aiming for the enemy robot’s head so it turns on its allies) and it has quite a lot of variety in the gameplay department for a shooter. Even the on rails sections are both challenging and fun.

  33. Worm says:

    The is absolutely no stronger endorsement than the people who write for this site disliking a game. Sure you did nice work by screeching about [game issue #23] but your taste really is shit.

    • genosse says:

      I know some people get all worked up about low “scores” for games they really like, but seriously? Binary Domain? Not worth the hassle dude.

      • Dominic White says:

        The thing is that most reviews for the game have been pretty positive. The 8/10 from Eurogamer was possibly a little too gushing, but I’d definitely not call this a bad game. The entire review seems to be just tearing into whatever it can find.

      • genosse says:

        The game surely had it’s moments, but I kind of expected RPS to give it a bad review. I am seriously surprised they did review it all to be honest.

        As a PC only site it’s pretty much a given to strongly point out the bad porting, and I thought the same without even leaving the menu screen. Other negatives, such cultural stereotyping, sexism etc. are also spot on, and mentioning those is a big reason I enjoy this site so much, as others pretty much let it slide.

        I knew the writers would feel strongly about this, and that’s the reason I check other reviews to get a less “biased” picture, altough I have to agree: “Only get this if you are into sci-fi, play with a pad and don’t mind corny dialogue” would have been a better and fairer verdict.

        As for the the “don’t get all worked up”-part: Even if you did enjoy the game (and I did for some parts), it’s still largely forgettable. No need to get your pulse rising.

  34. jakonovski says:

    As a port it’s a bit shoddy unless you use a controller (as I did), but other than that I can only shake my head at such strong rejection. This game has beautiful mechanics and is consistently skill based, unlike most single player shooters these days. On top of that it manages to have an utterly ridiculous and awesome plot full of twists, the likes of which are rarely seen anymore.

    In short it’s a game with a giant heart in a industry full of cynics. I guess that’s why it was doomed to fail.

  35. Brun says:

    Is John Walker the guy RPS always picks to write WITs for bad games? It seems like he’s done a lot of them in the past.

    Don’t get me wrong, out of all of you guys I think he’s the best at panning bad games. His Dragon Age 2 and MW3 articles are among my favorites.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      Mr Walker has been writing very good reviews of bad games since becoming a gaming journalist. He really honed his skills during his PC Gamer UK days. Back then he was most definitely sought out for this talent. Poor chap.

    • John Walker says:

      I did not know this was a bad game before I played it. Having written my review I then saw others, and was bewildered.

      The majority of my WITs have been positive, to memory.

  36. Wedge says:

    Now if only they could release their infinitely superior Yakuza games on PC, where youl’d be using a controller anyways…

  37. DickSocrates says:

    Not being like Mass Effect is a good thing. You can tell Mass Effect is pants by how many people like it.

  38. Phantoon says:

    I want to play this game while doing nothing but quoting annoying lines from other games like “DOSH! WHO NEEDED MONEY!” or “SHAZBOT! OUR FLAG IS AWESOME!”

  39. Demiath says:

    I really enjoyed Binary Domain, and I’d happily choose Toshihiro Nagoshi’s melodramatic story twists and flagrant stereotypes over the so-called “depth” of allegedly serious story-oriented games such as Dragon Age: Origins or The Witcher 2 any day of the week (I know this specific article never compares BD to such games, but for me such a contrast is absolutely crucial). The latter titles are nuanced and multi-layered…but only in so far as they manage to stack fivehundred incredibly dry lore documents on top of each other and then foolishly expect drama and decent characterization to emerge. That, needless to say, doesn’t happen; especially not in the awful parade of lifeless plot automatons which make out the entirety of the cast in CD Projekt RED’s “political” RPG.

    If that’s what’s perversely considered the best storytelling in gaming today, then I’d say a rollicking and knowingly absurd genre offering like Binary Domain feels almost revelatory in its ability to actually deliver some good old-fashioned fun

  40. brulleks says:

    ‘And when stood in front of a control panel. “What the hell’s that? Some kind of control panel?” ‘

    Why am I ALWAYS gulping down a mouthful of tea when I read lines like that? It wastes a fortune in screenwipes.

    • Premium User Badge

      Henke says:

      My favourite part was “if its voice recognition could have recognised the language I was screaming at it at its worst moments, I think it would have uninstalled itself.” Gold! :D The funniest reviews are always the ones for games the reviewer didn’t like.

      I must say though, that I really enjoyed the 360 demo of Binary Domain. WIll defenitely be picking it up at some point in the future, though I guess I’ll steer clear of the PC version.

      • Dominic White says:

        The PC version is straight-up better than the 360 version by a very large margin. Looks better, runs better, controls better. The default options weirdly assume that you’re using a 360 controller, but you can change that in about 30 seconds.

        The game is a straight console port that takes advantage of the PC’s extra power and not much else. That’s not a mark against the game, just not enough for some.

        • equatorian says:

          If the Japanese devs were the ones doing the port, the weird ‘out-of-game’ setup scheme can probably be explained; that’s because a good chunk of PC games in Japan does that and it’s a pretty natural thing to check IMHO. If they outsourced it to the western teams—–well, damn, I don’t know how to explain that.

  41. Laketown says:

    I played it on the 360 because I had just bought it on amazon like, 3 hours before the PC version got announced, so PC grognards feel free to ignore my opinion.

    Game’s rad, it’s honestly my favorite game this year so far, I think the characters and the character interactions and the story are the best I’ve seen in a shooter in quite a while (maybe since Metro 2033). I do think you’re being way too negative. Yes, the porting is bad and yes the voice recognition stuff is terrible, but getting so angry at it that you would have uninstalled it? jeez.

  42. Zefah says:

    That’s too bad that so many people, including John, are shitting all over this game. I totally understand this isn’t John’s type of game, though.

    I played it on the PS3 at release and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve put an hour into the PC version, and while the first impression is shit (it’s busted unless you go into the out-of-game config program first and modify some very odd options), it looks and runs great on the PC. Once you’ve got it configured, it’s clear that this is the definitive version of a very fun and interesting action game.

  43. equatorian says:

    It’s increasingly sad to see what Japanese developers think they need to do to appeal to the West these days. Since they needed to write for the West but don’t know how for the life of them, they resort to hilarious stereotypes from flanderizing Western games, thinking that’s how they’d get the West mass market sensibilities.

    Dear Japan, we liked you fine when you were writing for yourself. Just. End all this obsession with moe and existentialism and go back to the way you used to write and the way you used to do crazy medium-budget games and people have to dare to even localize, okay? Your games are always best when they’re not made with localization in mind, or at least kept on second priorities. (Disclaimer : I like moe okay enough when it’s in a niche genre like everything else, but not when it’s spilling over into almost every game not aimed at the West.)

  44. YourMessageHere says:

    Has anyone tried voice control in Japanese?

    I was interested in this (alleged PC port clusterfuckage notwithstanding) right up until the boss fights started coming across as frequent occurences; perhaps not, then. I detest boss fights.

    And another thing: why is it bad that enemies don’t magically get harder? You as a character improve because you win fights. They don’t improve because they die instead. Makes more sense than them improving simply because you do; doesn’t that negate the point of upgrading and so on?

    • CaLe says:

      I’ve read some of the amazon.co.jp reviews and it’s pretty mixed. Some say it works and others say they just disable it because it’s unreliable. I never tried it in game, but I played the English version anyway.

  45. Buemba says:

    “And boy, if its voice recognition could have recognised the language I was screaming at it at its worst moments, I think it would have uninstalled itself.”

    There should be an award for game reviews or review-esque articles, because that paragraph deserves some accolades.

  46. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    Sounds like fun.

    “A line he repeats for the entire game, at completely irrelevant moments. Like when you’re about to win a fight.” clearly indicates that the game isn’t afraid to slip into the territory of surrealistic art. Obviously.

  47. LambdaNamNam says:

    Oh lordy! I was looking forward to this game. I played the demo on X360 and thought it was great but after spending 4 hrs with this game on PC i gotta say this game is incredibly annoying. The terrible romance (Faye is ridiculous), the stun locks, the awful boss battles, the wonky controls. Ugh.

  48. fenrif says:

    HEY GUYS YOU HEARD OF MASS EFFECT YOU SHOULD PLAY IT LOL 10/10

    Oh yeah some other game lol it’s no Mass Effect amirite!

    (BTW I like mass effect)

    • TaroYamada says:

      I didn’t really get the comparison to Mass Effect either, other than both being sci-fi.

  49. TaroYamada says:

    Response on NeoGaf has been overwhelmingly popular, but reviews rank it in the 7′s. I’ve just played the demo, the PC version definitely has some porting flaws but the gameplay feels pretty good and I had no issues with voice recognition.

  50. Ravenger says:

    You only get one chance to make a first impression, and unfortunately this game fluffs it.

    This has to be the worst mouse and keyboard control system I’ve seen in a long while. It gets nearly every PC gaming UI convention wrong.

    The only thing it does right is that the mapping system lets me bind the arrow keys, other than that no consideration has been made to the fact that you can’t do a 1:1 mapping of gamepad controls to keyboard and mouse and expect it to be usable.

    It even looks like they’ve just shoehorned mouse control on top of the standard gamepad axes, which explains the horrendous lag and acceleration.

    It’s clear that no-one on the dev team was a PC gamer, otherwise these obvious problems could have been avoided.

    I deleted the demo after 5 minutes trying to get to grips with controls. A shame, as I was looking forward to playing it.

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      Allow me to respond, just for a moment, to your (and other similar) tirades that clearly spout from your nether regions…

      Once you know that the game is a port, and that the keyboard/mouse combo don’t provide the best control method in this case, why don’t you *PLUG IN A FLIPPING CONTROLLER AND USE IT!*

      Instead, you, Mr. Walker and all the other stuck-in-a-past-that-never-existed neanderthals ruin any possible fun you could glean by moaning about The One control scheme that’s been seemingly sanctioned by the Son of God…

      *Some* annoyance regarding the UI quirks and mouse/keyboard issues is totally understandable. But to let it overshadow and detract from the other elements of a game by avoiding a perfectly competent (and intended) alternative control scheme that’s been around and used by **PC GAMERS** on home computers since before the birth of PC gaming is just pure daftness.

      On top of that, it’s clouding the fact that the port to PC is actually pretty good…for example, the engine runs smoothly in HD+ with several bells and whistles on a laptop with the equivalent of an Nvidia 9500gt.

      And if by chance you haven’t got a decent gamepad/joypad for your PC, then you really aren’t qualified to call yourself a PC Gamer. Christ, I can only imagine the mess there’ll be in the Dark Souls thread when August (t)rolls around.

      Anti-”twaats moaning again”-rant over.

      • jakonovski says:

        Totally, many pc gamers have this irrational hatred or fear of the gamepad.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        You do not play a game with a crosshair and fine aim/headshots with an analogue stick if you have a mouse.

        End of discussion.