It’s really good to see Sega back in the developing saddle with SEGA CS1 recently developing and publishing Binary Domain. While this game is pretty much The Terminator game that everyone wanted, we couldn’t help but focus our attention on SEGA’s experimental tweaks to the command mechanic. A gameplay element developers have remained pretty loyal to throughout the years.
Binary Domain plays very much like Gears of War. It uses a familiar third-person view point with wall mounting, jumping and a cover-to-cover movement command system. Binary Domain’s weapons certainly don’t lack oomph, with excellent muzzle flash effects, recoil animations and rumble features that make you feel as if the weapons are actually in your hands! Add some cool weapons designs, including a kick-ass futuristic sniper scope (remember, the scope makes the rifle in an FPS) and Binary Domain offers quite a lot for the third-person action enthusiast.
We referred to The Terminator games earlier and that’s exactly what you’ll first think of Binary Domain…but in a good way! Merge the stories of i Robot and The Terminator and you pretty much have Binary Domain. AI developed to the standard of intelligent servants, only to then turn on humanity with devastating consequence. You’ll see damaged cyborgs pull themselves toward you on the ground, cyborgs disguised as humans and huge machines that will take more than your standard issue to bring down. All very similar to The Terminator but crafted very well in a war-torn Tokyo and far, far better than any officially licensed Terminator game we’ve ever played.
Binary Domain also gives the player the opportunity to select their ideal squad before missions. Here, you can opt for certain battlefield strategies such as a sniper, explosive or heavy weapons specialist. But while these give a certain tactical edge to Binary Domain, we can’t help but feel command mechanic experiments may have tipped the game over it. For instance, you’re task is to lead your team throughout these missions but with your team constantly giving YOU orders…to give orders and pretty much evaluating your every decision, this strips the player of any real sense of leadership.
Binary Domain also steps away from the point-and-mark mechanic that games such as Rainbow Six and Advanced Warfighter used, to help give the player full control over their team. Binary Domain instead, uses simple commands such as “Go”, “Hold” and “Regroup”.
Although such a simplified command system can still work for players (allowing them to focus more on the action than their teams positioning) Binary Domain then drops another bombshell on the players leadership abilities. Your teammates will react to how you reply to their situations and questions in the battlefield. Get on anyone’s wrong side and your team will become totally unresponsive and ignore all team commands. I guess our point is…with such a limited command system as it is, should SEGA have gone down this road with Binary Domain?
Should SEGA have left out the relationship mechanic on the battlefield? Would it have worked better with a GRAW command system or would you rather Binary Domain totally abandoned the command mechanic, using reliable team AI that covers you and gets their head down when necessary? Get posting and let us know your thoughts?
Oh, one more thing we must point out about Binary Domain…it has no offline solo co-op support. Online co-op simply enables a horde-style survival mode, but there is no story co-op whatsoever. This is a real shame as SEGA should’ve known that such co-op gameplay worked really well with games such as Gears of War and Army of Two. It’s also now a fact that if you want good sales for your game…play it safe! If you can’t get the top-chart placement…go for the co-op top chart placement. It’s still surprising how many developers never think of this…