Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 • Page 2

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The same applies to the way the game deals with death. Although the dreaded one-hit-kill mentality of the eighties original was mercifully given the finger with the remake, you still have to put up with being sent back to the start of the stage once you run out of lives.

Normally that might not be an issue, but in a game where it's impossible to tell when there's a bottomless death pit beneath you as you attempt to swing to safety, it's like being clubbed over the head by a surly drill instructor.

Fortunately the levels are concise enough for this not to become a serious irritation, but such penalties hardly make you beam with sunny effervescence either - especially when failing to beat a boss results in a weary ten minute backtrack. Checkpoints say hi.

But it's not all about teeth-grinding and expletives. Once you break through that initial pain barrier and recalibrate your gaming time machine to 1988, there's plenty of testing retro entertainment waiting to be unleashed.

You'll even appreciate some of the changes - like the Metroid Prime-style Bio Vision, which allows you to scan various bits of the environment for clues and information. Plus there are new abilities, such as the Death From Above manoeuvre which allows you destroy certain enemies and scenery items by pressing a button in mid-air.

Rearmed 2 promises plenty of set-piece killing implements such as the Sniper Mount, which lets you loose with a gigantic reticule and tasks you with killing all the oblivious sentries dutifully wandering the platforms. Later on you'll find yourself spraying a Gatling gun aboard a helicopter and laying waste to anything in the vicinity.

Abilities also receive plenty of love in the sequel, with passive features like regenerating health collected early on. There are also special upgrades like the barrel-punching Uppercut and a grenade launcher.

The basic combat system, however, remains the same. You have the simple ability to shoot directly in front of you or slightly lower when crouched. You can grab barrels with your arm and either roll them along the ground or throw them at unsuspecting foes. Same old drill, then.

Co-operative play is a key facet of Rearmed 2, but Fatshark has taken the decision to remove split-screen play entirely - reasoning that they wanted specific co-op challenges (for example, during boss sections) and that it's actually "more fun" for the gameplay to take place on the same screen at all times (try telling that to the guy who likes to run off ahead).

Another feature facing the chop is the top-down Commando-style interludes. This decision is likely to frustrate those who enjoyed the variety they provided. Curiously the action unfolds across a linear succession of levels, with no option to helicopter to your destination. However, the level design evidently encourages players to come back later and mine for secrets once they've acquired new skills and hardware.

One of the more welcome features to return is undoubtedly the provision of Challenge rooms. This time around, certain levels will demand specific hardware and ability requirements before you can play them.

Sadly we weren't able to check these out just yet. But with the release of Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 just a few weeks away, it's not long before we'll be able to see if they're as hideously addictive as those in the original - and what kind of impact the wealth of new gadgets and skills will have on this classic series.

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is due for release on February 2nd on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

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Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed


Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.


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