Sega's really very good futuristic shooter Binary Domain has a PC release date.
Digital distributors will sell the game from 27th April, and boxed copies will be available from 18th May.
But wait, there are pre-order bonuses. The Dan Marshall Pack gives bionic upgrades and weaponry, and the romantically named Multiplayer Pack gives a class (Ninja), map (Outside High-rise) and extra weapon types (a sniper rifle and handgun).
Binary Domain is a third-person shooter with a few problems, but everything is forgiven once you start shooting its robots. These enemies are made up like Meccano sets, and though they lack the cutthroat threat of Vanquish's droids, they more make up for it in the details. Their destructible bodies hide endless delights - shoot an arm off, and watch the robot re-align its torso and pick up the gun with the other hand. Shoot off a leg and the robot falls, but quickly balances with one arm and a leg while taking aim. Best of all, shoot off the head and it starts shooting at other robots.
One of the common failings of third-person games is feedback, but the shearing metal and scattering components of Binary Domain's opponents is intensely satisfying - to the degree that you'll often take your sweet time over the last enemy in a fight, chopping off different bits to see what it does. The game even incentivises it, rewarding you with credits the more you damage an opponent before finishing it off, and making that headshot even more key than usual.
The great thing about headshots in Binary Domain is that you need to hit a robot's head several times before it comes off - destroying the initial layers of armour before blowing away the exposed circuits. Hitting three or four shots in a row is difficult, but do it and that robot instantly turns and starts firing at its buddies. During the next few seconds, it's your chance to hit more headshots as the enemy deals with this new threat, meaning that one good headshot can set off a chain of them and destroy huge groups with a few bullets. One little touch especially delights: Binary Domain's smoke effects are excellent, dense and impossible to see through. But robot eyes glow red, brightly enough that they can be seen through smoke. Ready, aim...
It has, since its unveiling late in 2009, been hard to muster much in the way of enthusiasm for Binary Domain. Fronted by a stubble-chinned, crop-haired hero who's seemingly more anonymous than the waves of robots he's tasked with gunning down, it's a game that's generic to the point of rendering itself invisible.
If Sega's own Tokyo studio's perverse objective has been to blend in its first foray in to the duck and cover shooter genre crowd in much the same way as Binary Domain's new breed of robots try to hide themselves within its imagined future society, it's proved successful; some have emerged from demos from this year's trade shows with little recollection of what they've just witnessed, an instant amnesia brought on by what seems to be a particularly inoffensive yet uninspiring effort.
It's all the more dispiriting when you consider the heritage behind the studio that's developing Binary Domain - this is the same outfit that has in recent years produced the consistently brilliant Yakuza series, games that are as colourful as they are eccentric and unique, and it's headed up by one gaming's few rockstar developers, Toshihiro Nagoshi. But beneath Binary Domain's innocuous exterior there's something smarter, more cunning and ultimately more beguiling than first looks might lead you to believe. Yes, it's a third person shooter set in a dreary monochrome future, but it's one that's got character, style and a handful of neat tricks to boot.
Binary Domain, the new third person squad shooter from Yakuza producer Toshihiro Nagoshi, launches on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 17th February, publisher Sega has announced.
Set in Tokyo in the year 2080, the game sees your squad of soldier attempting to wrestle control of the city from a faction of power-hungry cyborgs.
Could be one to look out for - aside from Yakuza, Nagoshi boasts a number of other key Sega franchises on his CV. He directed the first Super Monkey Ball, supervised on Shenmue and was producer on NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.