Published on February 15th, 2012 | by Chris Powell3
Preview: Binary Domain demo
Set to release in less than two weeks, on Feb. 28, Binary Domain is a squad-based, third-person shooter set in futuristic 2080 Tokyo that’s developed by Yakuza Studio and Sega legend Toshihiro Nagoshi. In the game, you’ll battle against highly advanced robots that are striking back against their human creators.
Sega released the game’s first demo yesterday on the PlayStation 3, and I had a chance to play through it. The game gives you the option of playing on multiple difficulty settings, ranging from very easy to really hard. I chose the hard difficulty from the outset.
The demo gives you two stages to play through, the first set in a lower level business district and the second in a subway station. In the first stage, you begin by choosing two members of your team to be included in your three-person squad. I chose Big Bo, a giant, muscle-bound black guy who looks a little too similar to Cole from Gears of War, and Faye, a female Chinese sniper. Each character has a primary weapon that they’re most proficient with, and since Dan, the main character, primarily uses an assault rifle, I figured Big Bo’s short-range power weapons and Faye’s long-distance sniper rifle would create a pretty potent squad.
After you picked your team, you start the stage by walking down a road. Judging by all the damaged buildings, the debris littered ground and numerous objects that will provide you cover, you just know some shit has gone down and some more is about to start. Soon enough, your team encounters a couple robots patrolling the street. Big Bo asks what your orders are: should you charge in and attack them or sit back and let them pass? I chose to charge in and take them out, which aggravated Faye enough for her to voice her opinion.
Oh yeah, one of Binary Domain’s big features is the Consequence System, which governs how loyal your squad mates are to you. Every decision you make will alter the loyalty of your team mates; this is important because it effects how well they’ll follow your orders in the heat of combat. It will also change the storyline at some point, as well. Also, if you happen to inadvertantly shoot them in battle, they’ll become less loyal to you, and conversely, if you revive them, you’ll score some bonus points with them. In some cases, a character will ask you to perform a dangerous action like trying to distract a large enemy so your team can flank him. You’ll have the decision whether to do this or not, but if you choose to do it, you’ll gain your team’s loyalty even more.
So back to the level. It appeared that my overzealousness in attacking the robots alerted their buddies because swarms of enemies started pouring out of the buildings. You’ll have to make good use of the game’s cover system if you hope to last any decent amount of time. If you’re a fan of simply charging in with guns a’blazing, you’ll quickly meet your demise.
As I pushed further down the street and through a couple city buildings, a Grand Lancer appeared. These are giant robots that will easily decimate your team if you stay out in the open. After seeking refuge in a multi-story building and firing a few clips worth of bullets that the Grand Lancer shrugged off, Faye said what I already pretty much knew, that our weapons weren’t going to take it down and that we’d need to find another way to defeat it.
After radioing our team back at base, I was told that the Grand Lancer’s drive system is located in its head, and if I can disable it, it should essentially destroy the entire robot. So I ran to the top of the building and jumped onto the Lancer’s head. I had to keep my balance with the left analog while firing at the Lancer’s head. I have to say, I was thrown off about three times and had to repeat those steps until I finally destroyed its drive system. After this, the stage was completed.
One of the other things I encountered during the level was an Ammunition Transit Japan terminal. These are found throughout a stage and allow you to upgrade your squad’s weapons or purchase first aid kits, ammo, weapons and Nanomachines. There are specific Nanomachines for each character, and they offer permanent boosts to their attributes when equipped. Some of the ones I bought gave Dan a 10% health bonus, Big Bo a 15% defense increase and there were others that gave characters the ability to dodge attacks while evading or would boost Faye’s mental focus to give her a 10% bonus. This seems like an interesting system to increase your character’s skills rather than the traditional level-gain system found in many RPGs and other games today.
The second level takes place in a subway system and introduces a new character in your squad named Cain — a ninja-looking robot that speaks with a French accent. Yeah, for real. It really doesn’t show anything new that the first stage didn’t already.
Some of the other aspects of Binary Domain that I enjoyed was how damage is inflicted on your enemies. Depending on where you shoot a robot, its armor plating will begin to break off until you completely destroy its legs, arms or even head. The great thing about this is if you blow off its legs, it will still crawl towards you shooting, or if you destroy its head, it will continue shooting blindly.
Another selling point is the ability to shout out voice commands to your team in six different languages. The game supports a ton of different voice commands ranging from what you’d expect like “cover me,” “stay there,” or “heal me.” What took me by surprise, however, is the game allows you to use swear words at your team. Yes, you can actually say things like “you idiot,” “shit,” “fuck” or “God damn.” Why Yakuza Studio felt the need to include these in the game is anyone’s guess, but it’ll be hilarious to see how your team would react if you inadvertantly swore at them because you got frustrated with the game. It could make for some pretty hilarious scenarios. Unfortunately, I don’t have a PlayStation Eye, so I couldn’t test this feature.
When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be difficult for Binary Domain to escape the inevitable comparisons to Gears of War, but judging from the demo, I think Sega has a pretty good game on its hands. The weapons felt pretty good, and the cover system works well enough. The game will also support online multiplayer and co-op for up to 10 players, but sadly, the demo didn’t offer any online play.
Look for a full review on the game when it releases Feb. 28!