Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
My cursor lingers over Binary Domain whenever I pass it in my Steam library, accompanied by memories of bullets slamming into metal skeletons and malevolent robots slowly marching towards my vulnerable squad of fleshy humans. No other game has made shooting up machines so satisfying.
Androids have been infiltrating humanity for reasons I forget, and that’s a bad thing, presumably, so a squad of macho shooty folk have been tasked with putting a stop to their secret conquest of Tokyo. There’s more to it than that, probably, but I confess that it’s all drowned out by the robo-murder.
Sega managed to strike that rare balance between enemies who can soak up a lot of damage and enemies that are actually fun to fight. A lot of these androids can take quite a bit of punishment, and their armour can often deflect your bullets, sending them shooting off in all directions, but you’re always made to feel like you’re still seriously messing them up.
So instead of just standing there, completely ignoring the barrage of gunfire, these Terminator analogues react explosively. You can blow off limbs, and watch as chunks of metal come flying off them, whittling them down until you get that delicious kill shot. And they’ll keep coming at you until they’re ‘dead’. Even when they’ve got no legs, they’ll drag themselves forward with their arms. It’s brutal in a way that would be extremely unsettling in a game with human enemies. It’s pretty unsettling with robots.
Take away the robots and Binary Domain is pretty much Gears of War, mechanically, and like Gears of War it feels less at home on PC than it does on consoles. It separates itself from the testosterone-fueled Gears series one more time, however, with the addition of the ability to use vocal commands to manage your squad. Unfortunately, nobody in Tokyo can understand my Scottish accent. It’s a novelty, though, and the game can easily be played without it.
My cursor is hovering over it again. Maybe I’ll get back to it today?