When we first heard of this project, we were worried that yet another grappling/physics-based game would be coming to take on Robotology. After watching the video, all we could think was “this is the sound of a great game being F’d in the A”.
They couldn’t possibly have just stuck with the original story which, though corny, would have at least had an sense of humour about itself? Come on! You are Radd Spencer, a soldier with an experimental bionic arm, sent on a mission to save Super Joe from the clutches of the evil Badd. That’s hilarious! And anyway, no one’s going to really care if they’re having a great time grappling all over the place.
Instead, it’s apparently better to mash together terrible movie cliches. “Radd Spencer” has become “Nathan Spencer”. Why not just call him “Blandy McBland” or “Egg”? Is there a more generic tough-guy name in all of history? It at least matches his background story: yet another heroic soldier locked up for crimes he didn’t commit, or, crimes he did commit clearly in the name of justice, only to be set free as a risky, last-ditch super-weapon. “Bio Rain” just sounds like “Trying to be Metal Gear Solid”. And “Ascension City”, nice touch — apparently “Climbsville, West Tallington” was too obvious.
Why, WHY does every action video game have to pretend it’s the most bad-ass, super-tough thing ever? Doesn’t anyone realize that that just comes off as very lame? They must have assembled a writing team consisting of the 4 people on earth who played through Max Payne 1 and 2 without ever feeling embarrassed by the dialogue. Even action movies tend to have at least some self-awareness.
It’s worrisome that they spent over three months designing the bionic arm, and it still wasn’t good enough. And the degree to which they agonized about what the hero should look like is another concern. If you had spent the past 7 years of your life fighting to get this game made, why wouldn’t you care more about, say, how running/swinging/shooting feel (i.e the actual game) rather than this sort of trivial superficial crap? It’s almost like these sorts of totally-irrelevant-to-actually-playing-the-game details are what’s important: for example, the anecdote about how Nathan Spencer is just soooo bad-ass, they had to ship him and his arm in separately. WOW.. Can’t WAIT to play this game, it sounds amazing!
Here’s an idea: rather than waste millions of dollars developing a pathetic, tired, over-worked plot, why not keep the old story — it’ll have a nice, unique, “ironic nostalgia” vibe the 25-35 year old gamers will love — and put that money into making the game more fun to play? The sad thing is that no matter how much money is sunk into the writing, it’s never going to get better because for some reason the idea that video games should aspire to be more like film has become prevalent. The type of people who subscribe to this ideal can’t seem to make the mental shift from “this is the most epic, cinematic story EVER WRITTEN” to “we’re making a video game, why not make it fun to play and then worry about writing a plot that fits in with the game?”.
We’d rant about the fact that this remake is of course in 3D rather than 2D, and how incredibly unsurprising and boring that decision is, but by doing so we might have made the same mistake ourselves. Here’s hoping that, despite all the worrying points listed above, Bionic Commando is still a great game! Or, wait, no, here’s hoping it stinks, and Robotology is great! Hahaa! In your face, classic game much loved by nostalgic gamers everywhere!