Have you found something missing from your gaming life recently? Have you wanted something to seize your attention for several hours of pure, unadulterated action, with enough story to keep you going, a furiously polished experience that will not lose your focus? If you are seeking something to tide you over during the summer lull, I humbly submit Sega's Binary Domain for your consideration.Like a fusion of the film 'I, Robot', Transformers, and Gears of War, with a remarkably intelligent story that muses on survival, trust, and what defines a person as a human being, Binary Domain is all the robot-shredding science fiction goodness you can handle. An extremely well-paced narrative compensates for third-person-cover-shooter mechanics, and archetypical characters are saved from mediocrity by a familiar cast of anime and game veterans. A self-aware sense of humor, consistently visceral action, and intense boss fights keep this game interesting.
Binary Domain snuck into stores earlier this year, and it skipped gamer radars. With plenty of science fiction games on shelves, it seemed one among many, and its release only a week prior to the launch of Mass Effect 3 didn't work in its favor. Binary Domain is no Mass Effect, but I dare to say, it's better than Mass Effect.
I compare this game to Mass Effect based solely on its science fiction nature. Do not walk into this game expecting Bioware level storytelling or writing. Binary Domain is pure adrenaline and action, and it is reluctant to let you forget that fact. Where this game truly dominates Mass Effect is in its pacing and its furious action stages. Binary Domain has destruction on its mind, and it does not want you to forget that you are playing it for all the robot-decimating mayhem you can cause.
As you slaughter your way through hardware, take a moment if you can to enjoy the gorgeously realized futuristic Tokyo. The game's graphics are stunning, with massive skyscrapers and twisting highways giving great visual punch to some of the most intense action sequences. My personal favorite involves a high-speed chase on a deserted nighttime highway, while a massive machine chases you down. This sequence is one of the best boss battles I've played in a very long time, requiring quick reflexes, some thought, and a lot of patience.
Perhaps the game's only real flaw is its unusual voice recognition system. The entire purpose of this system is to communicate one-word responses to squad mates that will gain or lose their trust when they ask you questions, or order them to act in combat. It is a strange system, and not terribly effective. It's far easier to manually issue commands than it is to shout at your television.
Binary Domain is never boring, and its seamless shifts from story cut scenes to epic shootouts against wave after wave of enemies to massive boss fights force you to stay on your toes. Ammo runs out, health packs run out, and a headshot won't always do it, but you've always got a couple of good squadmates who can dish it out as well as they can take it, and they'll never leave you hanging. With a sharp science-fiction story, good voice cast, and polished combat engine, dismantling robots in a hail of bullets has never been so cathartic an experience as it is in Binary Domain.
The Official Verdict: 4.5 out of 5