Binary Domain

People of the internet, welcome to my first review that says…


Today we talk about Binary Domain, a game developed by Devil’s Details, but published by Sega. Already, things get interesting. Devil’s Details also developed other products for Sega, such as the Casino Nights DLC for Sonic Generations- this is their first true game.

Released unto the world on the twenty-seventh of April, 2012, Binary Division is a third-person shooter based on the age-old, generic Man vs Machine idea.

Recent Reviews on steam are Mostly Positive, based on the 29 reviews at this time, and reviews overall on Steam are Very Positive, based on two thousand, five hundred seventy eight reviews at this time. It only rated an okay 68 on Metacritic, and has not won any awards, so I settled myself in for an okay ride.

Binary Domain is supported on Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360- it has yet to be ported to the current generation of home consoles.

It supports 5 languages; and each is gifted with both Interface and Full Audio, which is a first for us; but none have subtitles.

Again, most machines of modern computing can run this game. For those like me who like numbers, that’s any CPU higher than 2.66 GHz, any RAM greater than 2 GB, any Graphics Card of better memory than 512 MB, and it requires only 8 GB of space.

Man vs Machine is a huge cliché, and so the story is, well, cliched;

In fact, they took a bunch of cliches and fused them together to form their story. Now, I’ve seen this done before, and often done well, but these ones just… Don’t. They don’t merge. To explain what I mean, I’ll explain the story, and every time there’s a cliché, I’ll put it in italics. So the world has fallen to Global Warming and as a result the world has had to form a new set of Geneva Conventions because technology that before would be minute can now create a genuine threat by doing something like destroying a flood barrier or whatnot. One of these laws was that no-one was allowed to create robots that acted like humans, whom are referred to as Hollow Children. Surprise, surprise, someone does. These robots don’t know that they’re robots, and freak out if they find out, which results in mass panic and destruction. This causes moral issues about what life is. The future UN decides that it’s specialist military squad for robotics-related issues should go to Japan, because they think that a company there is making hollow children. This company is basically a mob, but it somehow controls the government. So that’s ten cliches in one story, which would usually put a bad taste in my mouth- and it does- but, it’s not as bad as some examples, I’ve seen.

On my bad story meter, with 1 being a blatant rip-off of previous pop culture and 10 being something revolutionary like Super Mario Bros., I’d say this is a 3 or 4. Not good, but not utterly awful.

The two characters we’re first introduced to are Dan and a soldier referred to on the menus as Big Bo. They are incredibly stereotypical, to the actually makes me slightly uncomfortable. Our Avatar is Dan, which is okay I guess, but I honestly don’t understand why the game doesn’t let us choose- I mean, Bo and Dan have different weapons and abilities and such, I think it’d be really cool to be able to choose a style- again, it’s another bizarre choice from this game.

In addition, the way that the characters treat women is highly questionable. Personally, it makes me feel really uncomfortable.

Besides this, their designs are generic, their characters are both generic and uncomfortable – though to be fair they do have a fairly good sense of Camaraderie, however this does not excuse them.

The HUD is fairly standard for third person shooters. It shows what weapon your using, as well as how many bullets and how much charge the gun has if applicable. It also shows how many credits you have- that’s the in game currency, by the way- your objective, who’s talking at the moment, etc. It also has one other thing…. But we’ll get to that later.

The mechanics are simple- they are exactly as you’d expect- multiple weapons, shooting, aiming, weapon upgrades, etc. There are a couple of nice little add-on mechanics- like the fact that robotic enemies have structural weak points, like real-life robots, and a nice consequence system.

However… they went a tad too far.

They tried to implement a voice recognition mechanic… In 2012. In a fast-paced fps. The result? Well, please guess. It’s awful. It’s set of recognised words is too low, you have to talk perfectly calmly for it to pick you up at all, even then some words just don’t seem to work. It’s a gimmick that could never have really paid off and actually lowers the experience dramatically.

To be fair, the game has a perfectly workable difficulty curve to it, with new and different foes appearing over time, each harder than the last to defeat but with new weaknesses, it’s okay.

There are achievements in the game. This is our only palpable reward aside from upgrading our weapons. Even progression in this game never really feels like a reward. To be fair, they did try by adding in the fact that Bo will complement you sometimes, which is nice.

A plus is the fact that this game has a nice tension to it. Very rarely do you feel safe in this game, and every time you do, you will only enjoy it for a little while- very much how I’d expect an actual covert op to feel.

The environments are nice, quite gloomy, but they fit the atmosphere well, if generically.

The music is entirely unremarkable, incredibly stock and generic. When I think about this game, I cannot remember a single piece of the music or sound effects.

The atmosphere of this game is fairly interesting though, to be fair, half tense and half morally questioning, but when you compare it to other titles out there, it just doesn’t stand up.

This game… Is not the best. It’s flawed. Heavily. Not the worst out there, but still about a light year from good. The voice mechanic is awful and the characters are stock and uncomfortable. The game looked promising at first, but it flops in comparison to other options out there- for stuff like this done well, check out Deus Ex or even Mass Effect.

Overall, unless it was given as a gift, I’d recommend avoiding it. If you do find it in your Steam Library though… Maybe give it a look, just to see it’s ideas and how they failed to execute them. Just don’t expect to truly enjoy it. Overall, the game leaves you with a hollow feeling, the feeling of a good concept and okay execution glaringly spoiled by a gimmicky mechanic and what could be an insensitive character designer.

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