Unlike most shooters, Binary Domain weaves a story that was both interesting and thought provoking. Set in the somewhat near future, you play as a two man wrecking crew brought into Tokyo, Japan to stop a robot manufacturer who has been charged with breaking "clause 21" of the New Geneva Convention. Along the way you meet up with some other members from the same organization that sent you to Tokyo and work together to bring in Yoji Amada, the man who broke clause 21.
You find out relatively early about Clause 21. It is to prevent robots from being manufactured who...in so many words...don't know they are robots. They are programmed with human emotions, human memories, human everything. These individuals are referred to as "Hollow Children". To them, they are not robots, they are humans. That is until half of their face gets blown off and they can see for themselves they are indeed robots. Some of the best cut scenes revolve around the realization of who these people really are or the people who never knew in the first place and the reaction they have of finding out this long time friend of theirs was never truly human.
It's not just the mystery of "who's a Hollow Child" that makes the story interesting, it's the discrimination that happens when they are found out. There's no talking it out, because people just flat out despise Hollow Children. And while I don't think the story makes it quite clear why everyone hates them so much, there's a level of paranoia that grows regarding potential spies in certain individuals. Regardless, I found the story much better than what most shooters provide, and if that's enough to drive you to play this, I would suggest Binary Domain. It doesn't hurt that although the characters can be a bit stereotypical, they are still fun characters and they each have different interactions with each other.
The gameplay itself isn't groundbreaking, nor is it potentially bad. I did find the shooting to be rather erratic where short bursts were better than long streams of gunfire, but perhaps that's more my method of shooting that is flawed opposed to the gameplay itself. The guns themselves have little uniqueness to them other than the standard "This one's a sniper rifle, this is a shotgun, etc" to them, but the main gun your character has includes an electric pulse shot that can cause bigger enemies to pause or remove barriers in your way. Since your main weapon is upgradable, I found it pointless to switch to other weapons other than the need to use them if I ran out of ammo, except for the occasional chain gun an enemy type will drop from time to time.
As the player, you are given an option of which teammates you want to have watch your back from mission to mission. While the interactions between them are different and can be humorous, I didn't really notice any gameplay difference although the game would make you think there is. Each character has a preferred weapon that they use, but I didn't notice any missions where some would be better than others or that they were even better than others when using them. Really, it didn't seem to matter which weapons they used, because they seemed to get the job done. Which isn't a knock against the game, because very rarely do the AI seem competent enough to tag along with you.
The game also has an option to use your headset and yell commands to your teammates on how you would like them to proceed in the combat. You can run through the various command issues in the pause menu that allows it to sync with your voice so it recognizes what you say when you say it. However, too often was I yelling something that it couldn't recognize even it was clear as day. I don't know of an easier way for me to yell "Move!" into the headset without it sounding like something else I must have already said. So needless to say, it is a cool inclusion, but felt lacking when it came to performance. Basic commands can be selected without the headset fortunately, so it's not a big setback. But if you would rather someone else run in and die in your place and weed out the enemies, it would be nice if screaming "FIRE!" at the top of your lungs would register with the game correctly.
The enemy variation is something I also want to commend Binary Domain for pulling off so well. Although the main enemy type are green robot soldiers who will hide behind cover and shoot at you or aimlessly walk from side to side without caring they've been shot, they mix it up enough to keep it interesting. They will attach these green robots to flying...well...canisters is the best way I can describe it where they will try to pick you off from the air. There's a big boy robot that will attack you with a chain gun that if you are in the open, you won't last long. There's some that prefer melee attacks and flip around like little ninjas, some that look like police robots that can take a bit more damage, and red ones that tend to be more up close and personal with their weapons. If those were not enough, you will definitely run into some that tower over you the size of buses or worse yet, buildings. Lock-On missiles, heavier firepower, better armor...these are the ones that have it all and can cause problems.
Regardless of which ones you run into, the fun comes into taking them out. This can lead to various strategies on how to defeat a horde of robots. It's a pleasure to hear the little ding and watch a robots head explode right before they turn around and start shooting other robots. This in turn causes those robots to take out that robot as well since they are deemed a threat also. Perhaps you like to cripple them by shooting out their legs and watch them scrape their way along the ground to grab a hold of you if they do reach you. Or just blow the arms off and force them to resort to a headbutt as their method of attack. Doesn't really matter which you choose because it never got boring destroying these robots.
I haven't touched the multiplayer as I was having a bit of trouble finding anyone to connect to, but I'm hoping it's more co-op campaign than any sort of death match or horde mode. This game would be a lot of fun with other people playing although it would lose out on the interaction between characters. But overall, there's not much I can say was absolutely horrible about this game. It was a pleasant surprise considering my negative outlook from the demo I didn't want to finish, and aside from some quick time events, rail shooting and sliding/jet craft riding sections, it was one of the better shooters I've played in recent memory.
Sadly, the game sold poorly. So there's little to no chance this game will receive a sequel although I would love to play another game like it. I think the game ends in a way where there's no need for a sequel, but I had a blast shooting the armor off robots and removing body parts from them. SEGA released a great, and vastly underrated and overlooked, game that more people should try out. Instead these players will continue to focus on the rehashing of mediocre Sonic games so they have something to call SEGA out on and ignore one of the best games that has been released this year. For shame.
SCORE: 4 out of 5