Imagine having a bionic arm that can latch onto almost any surface. You could scale walls like Spiderman, attack enemies with super-human strength and lay waste to almost any obstacle in your way. Bionic Commando is the long-overdue sequel to the original 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name. And boy, has it aged well.
Bionic Commando starts with Nathan ‘Radd’ Spencer sitting on death row after being locked up for eliminating too many bad guys with his bionic arm. Nathan has been made an offer he can’t refuse and it’s at this point that you take control of the unsavoury situation. The bad news is that you’re working for the same scumbags that put you away in the first place. However, there’s nothing to do but follow their instructions and accept missions to search out and destroy their enemies.
Although the code I played was unfinished in a lot of places, I was thoroughly impressed. The physics and action sequences - in particular Nathan’s movement when scaling walls with his bionic arm - are beautifully implemented and will definitely be one of the highlights of the finished game. Having said that, you’ll definitely need to spend some serious time in the tutorial mode to get the hang of the wall scaling system. Defying gravity takes some quick reflexes and accurate timing to master. Other controls are pretty standard. Shooting and movement felt seamless throughout, being handled by the right trigger and left and right thumb sticks, whilst the X button is jump.
Other notable abilities are the option to lob grenades, plus latch onto people and launch a flying kick at them from 10 feet away. With high-quality voice acting talent provided by Faith No More’s Mike Patton (as Nathan), Bionic Commando seems to have every angle covered and is shaping up to be a great title for 2009. It looks like the Six Million Dollar Man might be out of a job.