Bionic Commando (2009)
Bionic Commando debuted the same year as Street Fighter in 1987 in the arcades, and has since made a name for itself as one of Capcom's most enduring franchises. Usually, when a game costs less than a Hot-N-Ready Pizza, that tends to give the impression that maybe it wasn't exactly that great during its heyday. I gave the game a try anyway though since I had enjoyed Bionic Commando Rearmed (which this is the sequel to), and was pleasantly surprised.
You take control of Nathan Spencer, who apparently hired Knuckles the Echidna as his new hairstylist because he now has dreadlocks and looks....drastically different than his past incarnations. Spencer is a soldier with a very handy tool at his disposal (okay that was bad); You use his massive bionic left arm to swing across gaps and through obstacles, which has always been a core gameplay element of the Bionic Commando games.
The story is that despite Spencer's past heroics, he has spent the last five years on Death Row after being framed for a crime and branded a traitor. He is saved at the last minute however when the government decides to send him on a mission to stop a faction of terrorists called BioReign after one of their weapons devastates Ascension City, killing countless people and nearly destroying the city. Despite many people hating Spencer's redesign, I do like Mike Patton as his VA in this game and all the other voice talent was enjoyable as well.
Spencer must have dropped out of the Legend of Zelda School of Platforming, because in this game he has finally learned how to jump. Inability to jump is actually something that made Bionic Commando unique compared to other platformers because having to grapple instead of jump meant that you had to completely rewire your brain against all your previous gaming instincts. But still, being able to jump at any given time is a most welcome addition, though using your Bionic Arm's grappling hook to swing across gaps is still the primary platforming method here. I also have to comment that I actually kind of like how the game handles the areas that players aren't supposed to go. Since invisible walls are out of style, restricted areas are designated by Radiation; if you begin to enter an area you shouldn't, a Radiation symbol will appear and Spencer will be slowly poisoned until you get to a safer area, as his Bionics are highly sensitive to radiation. It also makes sense within the context of the game since the bomb that detonated will have had Radiation effects. I just thought this was a more creative way to handle it, though it can also be bad as it can lead to confusion as to where you should and should not go on occassion.
The combat in the game comes mostly from shootouts. You do have some melee techniques at your disposal, as well as the ability to pick up objects with your arm and hurl them at enemies, but mainly you will be using an arrary of guns and gadgets at your disposal for dealing with enemies. As a third person shooter, Bionic Commando's shooting control scheme is pretty unconventional compared to most other shooters. Instead of using one Trigger to Aim Down Sights and the other trigger to fire, Bionic Commando decided that Aiming Down Sights is done by clicking the right stick and shooting with the opposite trigger. It's not that hard to get used to though, however in regards to the Shooting aspect of the game, Bionic Commando suffers from the lack of something that any halfway decent modern Third Person Shooter needs: A good cover system. Or any cover system at all for that matter. Instead, the only cover you can get is by simply standing behind an object. The problem is you cannot "stick" to cover like you can in games like Uncharted or inFAMOUS. Even though Spencer's stance has him hunched low, the fact that he cannot stick to cover, pop out to shoot and then quickly retreat back to cover will actually cost you alot of firefights.
The game has a reasonably lengthy campaign, which is good since the multiplayer at this point is quite dead (if it was ever popular). There's not really a whole lot to say about this one, what you see is what you get, really. Aside from the lack of a reliable cover system though, the gameplay mechanics are quite good and since the game is only $5 now, Bionic Commando is a cool bargain title for Xbox 360 and PS3.