Binary Domain Review
Binary Domain is a third person (first person when zoomed) action/tactical shooter from Sega’s Yakuza team (but ported over by Devil’s Details on the PC). It is set in Tokyo in the future where robots are primarily used to serve humans after the disaster that beset Earth – the flooding of major cities due to the effects of Global warning and the decrease of the Earth’s population. A task force was set up by the International Robotics Technology Association (IRTA) which handles cases of breaches of rules governing robotics. This group is called the Rust Crew and their primary task is to apprehend individuals performing violations specifically clause 21, or creation of robots that pass off as humans or better known as “Hollow Children”. As 1st Sgt. Dan Marshall of the Rust Crew US contingent, the player would travel through the disaster torn Old Lower Tokyo and Upper Tokyo area to apprehend the mastermind of the “Hollow Children” cases. Other characters in the game include: Boateng, Dan’s partner in the US team, the British Rust Crew pair of Charles Gregory and Rachel Townsend, the sole Chinese sniper Faye Lee, and sole robot French Rust Crew agent Cain. Each of them have their special setup (Faye uses a sniper rifle, Boateng a machine gun), however, Dan can use each of their weapons as a secondary primary weapon through picking up weapons from fallen enemies, or buying at shops.
One nice thing about the story is there’s a twist near the end expounding more on the title itself and the logo. I wouldn’t spoil anyone here. Better pickup the game and play it.
The game works on the same control concept as other 3rd player titles. However, if you have a microphone, orders can be given on the fly to your chosen squad mates rather than manually pushing buttons to have them perform tasks. Unfortunately my current headset suffered a broken connection therefore the microphone could not pick up my commands. There’s a list of commands the player can memorize as well as a synching tool to better understand the player’s voice. Surprisingly, Sega did put in some work on the voice commands by putting ALL possible commands that a team mate can do, i.e.: throw grenades, use their secondary, perform other stuff not covered by the regular push button commands.
Another feature that Sega threw in would be the trust system, having higher trust with the team allows the team mate to better follow your voice commands. This can be earned during conversations with a team mate, usually by replying positively to them. Others can be developed through combat, by performing quick kills on enemy robots or getting headshots. Team members would shout approvals to you leading to higher trust. Of course trust can be lost if wrong choice of words were taken and hitting the ally with your shots. Also there is an item that can boost the accumulation of trust, only that I’ll let you guys look for where it can be obtained. Trust level also affects the ending somewhat (kinda like ME3, not as colorful, nor as complex), just determines if everyone survives or one or several of the team would die by the end.
There’s a customization option to pimp out your gun or allies. However, due to the fast paced nature and limited enemy availability (hint: except if you know the farming areas…) gives not enough cash to upgrade everyone’s gear. Having the proper gear specc’ed up improves the chances of allies taking down enemies. The aspects in upgrading the weapons are: Ammo, Damage, Accuracy, Range, Rate of Fire (Dan has a slightly extended list for his grenade launcher exclusive to him: Grenade Shots and Damage). I would recommend prioritizing Dan’s setup as by the end, his weapon would be more than powerful enough in taking out enemies near the end. Aside from upgrading, Dan can use the upgrade center to purchase equipment like first aid kits, ammo, secondary weapons, grenades, or nanomachines to improve individual performance. The store features a roulette mini-game that awards the player a free item if lucky like an ammo box or medkit, or grenades.
On to the nanomachine portion, this enhances player’s and their team member’s abilities like health, damage resistance, reload time, agility and others (trust). Though I find that this is a bit rushed and that the nanomachines aren’t as flexible in configuring (can’t increase attachment slots for mix and match combos).
Graphics of the game are similar to the Yakuza games and doesn’t draw too much power from my video card. I tested it with the 670GTX and my 9800GT and both run fine, except for the 9800GT which suffers with Anti-Aliasing on at full 1080p resolution, running at 40fps on average. The 670GTX runs it well above 60fps.
Sound is crisp, I would put in my observation on voice recognition, but sadly my microphone is busted on my headset.
The game can be controlled by keyboard and mouse or by the X360 Controller. I’d recommend the X360 Controller. For a shooter normally we’d pick the mouse. However due to the fact that the controls are simple enough to navigate on a controller, the difference can be noticed on the keyboard. Also, the mouse when used in the game is not as responsive as the controller’s thumb sticks.
All in all, the game has it’s redeeming qualities even if beset by some technical flaws. It has a rich story and the ending would let us scream for more and the story is ever so expanding. The controls is a bit iffy when using the keyboard and mouse, but very good when using a controller (it is a console port after all). Some features like the weapon upgrades and nanomachines would probably need some more thought, as the short game doesn’t impact much on these features, nice to have but not too important. The voice command feature if I’m able to use it would probably be fun as I read in the internal manual of the voice command feature that gravity of the voice can affect the team mate’s action.
And oh yeah, the story reminisces the back story of The Matrix (see Animatrix episode The Second Renaissance), Blade Runner and I,Robot, which is why I find it quite good.
+ Fast Paced Gameplay
+ Trust has a factor in Ending
+ Deep Story
+ Voice Command Features
– Too much features for such a short game
– PC Controls need tweaking