August 28, 2008

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Bionic Commando: Rearmed (PS3/360/PC)
GRIN/Capcom, Aug. 14, M
By Glenn "the Badds" Given production@hippopress.com

Iím sure the liberalista robotic arm lobby will be up in, uhm, arms over this one.

The original Bionic Commando was one of the handful of 8-bit NES games that trounced me. Like Ninja Gaiden and Kid Icarus, it was an exceptionally well-made side-scroller with a difficulty level that was three grades of ADHD higher than my 10-year-old chemical imbalance was attuned for. Rearmed is essentially a glossy redrawn version of this beloved classic and is even more out of my old-man thumb-twitching league. Thatís a bit of an undersell, though. Rearmed tweaks many of the originals parameters, but donít fret, hero Radd Spencer still canít jump and must Tarzan from ledge to ledge with his robotic grappling hook arm. Baddies are still thinly veiled Nazis and itís still gob-smackingly annoying that you must climb over an entire building because a curb was in your path.

On the plus side, though, weapons can be swapped out during missions, with each having varied effectivness based on target type. Your titular arm can now grab and whip barrels at foes and you can draw enemies in to use as human shields (oh! Stop it now, they are Nazis, letís not feel so bad.) Radd now collects health from downed foes as opposed to the originalís punishing system of power-ups. The map-based progression remains as do the roving convoys that trigger gauntlet-style levels for Radd to navigate.

What makes this such a fresh buy, in addition to the budget price and direct download to consoles, are the brand new additions. GRIN has added numerous challenge rooms for hardcore players to puzzle and swing through. There are also head-to-head battles and an option to team up with a friend and tackle the main story in co-op. Bionic Commando: Rearmed gets it right across the board for an exceptionally fair price. The difficulty level might strike some as cruel, but listen, kid, back when I your age we had one life, walked through a hundred robot ninjas, in the snow, uphill for two miles and that was just for level one. A+ ó Glenn Given