Binary Domain

All of the descriptions of this being a Japanese Gears of War are completely accurate. It’s a third-person cover-based shooter, with a quirk in that you can influence how much your team likes you by speaking to them using your headset. You get prompted with yes/no questions pretty often, and they like/dislike you depending on your performance in combat. Shoot a bunch of robots, they think you’re great! Shoot them, and they complain. Something I didn’t necessarily realize is that the social system affects your ending!

The game looks great. It’s super-smooth, with only a bit of slowdown when I’d have like 10 robots exploding at the same time, and that was really rare. There are a ton of boss fights, but none of them are frustrating as they all subscribe to the “shoot the blinking parts” philosophy. The controls work great with mouse and keyboard. The voice acting isn’t perfect, but your team is composed of soldiers from different nations. Some of the accents are bad, and some are passable, but what thrilled me is that the Japanese police, who would have no business casually speaking English to each other, actually speak Japanese with subtitles! That tiny attention to detail means a lot to me. When Return to Castle Wolfenstein came out and all the Germans spoke English with German accents, I was totally disappointed.

The story is well written. It’s a nice sci-fi, what makes a man yarn. It has a pretty lighthearted tack to it, without being completely cartoonish. It’s more like a good action movie that occasionally asks serious questions. It sets up a sequel, which I’m looking forward to, but I don’t think we’ll see. I don’t think Binary Domain sold all that well, and it’s a serious departure for its creator who previously made all the Yakuza games. I never played any of them, but they have a rather dedicated following.

Next time Binary Domain goes on sale somewhere (I got it from Amazon, Steam-redeemable), you should get it. Don’t be completely turned off by the B grade cover art. It definitely exceeded my expectations.