Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 Review

By on March 16, 2011

The ol’ hook has gotten a little rusty.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Anyway you spin it, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 was likely to disappoint. When you consider the first game’s critical and commercial success, this comment may seem somewhat absurd but, least we forget, the first game was a remake of an NES classic which gives it significantly more edge, especially in the eyes of seasoned gamers. Rearmed 2 is not a remake but a sequel to a remake and so, naturally, all bets are off. In addition, with Grin having disbanded, the new development team had it all to do and with expectations high and the chances of BCR 2 breaking new grounds low, its fate seemed sealed. And surely enough, if you’re already aware of Rearmed 2’s critical reception so far, you’ll know that this has been the case. However, for all the disappointed fans that were hoping to buy the sequel, read on…because while the game   may not set the new side-scrolling standard, it is actually a pretty solid game in its own right.

Nathan Spencer is back for the sequel, this time sporting a mustache to visually indicate that he is indeed a seasoned veteran and not some pansy rookie, unlike some members of his new team.  BCR 2’s story revolves on Nathan Spencer and his team of bionics looking to stop the Castro-esque General Sabio from launching his WMDs. Bionic Commando’s tongue-in-cheek humor remains a component of the story, though it is significantly duller this time around. While I sometimes found myself laughing out loud during the first game, a timid smile is all I could muster this time around. Then again I didn’t purchase the game expecting Ricky Gervais material so, as they say, no harm, no foul.

If you’ve played the first game, the first change you’ll notice is the inclusion of a ‘jump’ button. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Bionic Commando Rearmed did not feature a jump, hence all platforming required you to master the bionic arm grapple and swing. This challenging requirement gave Bionic Commando notoriety and, in a sense, became the game’s selling point. Hence adding the ability to jump, while obviously intended to make the game more accessible, more than ticked-of off the fans and understandably so. The whole game can be played without jumping and there is even an unlockable trophy/achievement that rewards such behavior, but for better or worse, the Rearmed series has complied with platforming conventions and can no longer be branded a rebel. Once you get past that (or if you get past that), BCR2 is quite an enjoyable side-scrolling shooter. Aside from the inclusion of a jump, little has changed in the game’s presentation and core gameplay.

For those of you unfamiliar with the original, let me quickly summarize the game. Bionic Commado Rearmed 2 is a 2D (or 2.5D) action-packed side-scroller. The game requires a balance of strategic shooting and platforming. You’ll acquire new weapons as you progress through the game but the star of the show, hands down, is the bionic arm. With your bionic arm, you can grapple and swing from platform to platform, you can also block incoming fire, lift and throw barrels and well as activate switches. More can be done with the bionic arm this time around such as the uppercut move. Mastering the bionic arm is still as difficult as ever but this time you don’t need the shotgun to get your character swinging from a stationary grapple hang. You can now trigger a swing simply by moving the analog stick to the right or left. So, as you can probably tell, the changes seem directed towards making the game less demanding and perhaps more accessible to the casual gaming market. If any of you have played the NES classic you’ll realize just how out of character these concessions are but as my friend Bob Dylan would say, the times they are a changin’.

The game still looks pretty damn good though. The graphics have been slightly updated and while they perhaps look the same as they did 3 years ago at first glance, there is notably more detail in both the character and the environments. While the first game also had a fantastic soundtrack, BCR2 provides more of the same, but much like the entire package itself, it stops short of really impressing.

While I can handle the game’s various flaws and can overlook the removal of the top-down enemy map encounters (something I enjoyed in the first game), I cannot fathom the decision to implement an appalling DRM restriction on the PS3 version of the game (the version I played and the version this review is based on). You cannot launch the game while offline. That would be understandable for games such as Warhawk, that are multiplayer only but its simply absurd for games without an online component to really speak of. While my connection was down for a few hours this weekend, I was not permitted to launch the game which, in my opinion, is just inexcusable.

All in all, BCR2 seems content on riding the wave of the first game without paying much tribute to what made the first Rearmed so great. Still, if you are just looking for a good old-fashioned side-scroller that you can play alone or with a friend (locally), Rearmed 2 can heed the call, just don’t expect to be wowed.

The Scorecard
Jump or no jump, BCR2 is still a solid side-scrolling experience.
The visuals may not have changed much but they still work well, and the extra detail makes a good impact.
The soundtrack has less character but is still quite engaging.
A bit too expensive for a downloadable game, and the new challenge rooms don’t really cut it.
While it is fun to play a good offline side-scroller with a friend, it is not as fun being forced to go online to do so seeing as there is no online co-op to begin with.
While Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is still a solid side-scrolling platformer and still when of the best such co-op games around, it seems confused as to what made the first game so popular to begin with. It seems happy to free of the shackles of being a remake, completely unaware that it may have lost its identity in the process.


As an opinionated young gamer many years ago, I made three predictions: 1- Sega would dominate the console wars for 50 years. 2- Simon's Quest would be remembered as the definitive NES game. 3- I would be gaming even more as an adult. I suppose one out of three isn't bad.

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  • Antiro

    I dont get the big deal. The first one was crap and im pretty sure this one sucks as well.

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