Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hollow Children

"Where does Machine end and Humanity Begin?"
- Binary Domain

So I got a secondhand copy of Binary Domain this past week. It was one of those releases that got overshadowed by bigger ones.

Anyway, Binary Domain is set in a dystopian future where most of the world's cities have been flooded due to global warming. Due to the massive damage to humanity's population, much needed manpower was no longer widely available. To compensate, companies turned to the field of robotics to provide manual labor and rebuild new cities above the ruins of the old ones. Everyone's view on robotics is shattered when it is discovered that human-machine hybrids, dubbed as Hollow Children, have managed to infiltrate society undetected for decades. The game focuses on the story of IRTA operator Dan Marshall and his Rust Crew who are tasked to covertly enter an isolationist Japan to detain prime suspect Yohji Amada, head of the second largest robotics firm in the world. Their mission goes awry at the very onset and they must somehow accomplish it by any means necessary.

Binary Domain is a tactical squad shooter with a twist: while commands could be issued via conventional controls, more advanced maneuvers could only be accomplished by the use of a microphone-headphone system. It also encourages building trust among squadmates, which I believe would affect most of the game's ending. I'm not sure about this, however, since I managed to get most of my squad killed by the time I finished. The game borrows elements from existing games such as Dead Space's strategic dismemberment mechanic, Mass Effect's relationship building gimmick and humans being pitted against oversized robot bosses reminiscent of Earth Defense Force.

While I feel that the game's mechanics are not really that original, they still help make gameplay mostly enjoyable. The story is nothing to scoff at either and the writers bring an interesting interpretation of the ethics of cybernetics to the table, Asimov's Laws be damned. Apart from those quick time events (which is the bane of a Bartle Test spade like myself), Binary Domain is worth a try.

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