Along with the six weapons are a whole barrage of items, including a bullet proof vest that allows you to take an extra hit (without taking any damage), a flare (so that you can see in the dark), better shoes (so that you can kill people when you swing and hit them) and more. Throw in four different colored access cards and you have a whole lot of weapons and items to locate and earn through the course of the game. Oh, and did I mention that there are also sorts of weapon upgrades you can find by searching for hidden locations in the levels? Well you can, which is yet another reason to use your bionic arm to its fullest.
While the original game was built on a strong foundation, the improvements found in this game take a good game and make it great. It's not just the graphics that they upgraded (we'll get to that shortly), it's the addition of a brand new life bar, the brand new enemies, the crazy new bosses, the way you hack into the enemy's communications, the ability to finally be able to change weapons in the middle of a level and so much more. From start to finish the game has been improved and updated to feel like a modern game ... even if it is still viewed in the 2D perspective.
On top of the minor (albeit important) tweaks, the game also allows gamers to bring a friend in and play the entire story mode as a two-player co-op game. Unfortunately you can't play this multiplayer mode (or any multiplayer mode, for that matter) online, but there's nothing quite like having your friend on the couch next to you helping you battle soldiers, robots and all sorts of other baddies. What's more, the game actually changes in significant (and exciting) ways when you play with a friend. It's not just that the game is harder, but the way you beat end level bosses is different when you're paired up with a second bionic commando.
Seeing as this game is based on a 20 year old NES game, you probably shouldn't expect the story to take you dozens of hours to beat. Then again, I was taken aback by just how long the game actually was. Seasoned pros could probably go through the game in just a matter of hours (I'm sure there's a speed run of the game where somebody beats it in just an hour or so), but most people will find that the game's difficulty will impede their progress, at least until they figure out just how to go around getting around all of the different obstacles. I'm certainly no expert at judging game length; however I wouldn't be surprised if the game takes most people between five to eight hours.
On top of the lengthy story mode, you will also get more than four dozen "challenge" levels. These levels are small VR-like missions that have you swinging all around and avoiding obstacles to get to the end in a fast time. While not every one of them is consistent, they are a great way of offering you some extra things to do once you've battled Killt and defeated the Albatross. My one gripe with these levels is that some of them are tied to various game publications, which blurs that editorial integrity line a little more than I would like. Having said that, these challenge levels are definitely difficult and will take a long, long time to complete.
With the game's lengthy story, the two- and four-player multiplayer modes and all of the challenge levels, you're actually getting quite a bit for your 800 Microsoft Points ($10). In fact, I would argue that this is one of the best video game deals I've seen all year. Assuming that you actually complete everything in this game, you're going to be at it for dozens of hours, which isn't bad for a mere ten bucks.
And then there's the graphics, the beautifully upgraded graphics. Turning your game from 2D sprits to 3D polygons is tricky, but GRIN was able to make it look easy. The graphics are stunning, from the main character's animation to the detailed level graphics to the gigantic bosses. And it's not just that everything looks realistic, it's just the way the game uses colors you rarely see in video games and the lighting is out of this world. This game doesn't look like any other game on the market; it sets itself apart visually ... which isn't very easy to do in this day and age. There are a few graphic imperfections, but by and large this is one of the best looking games on the Xbox Live Arcade.
It's also one of the best sounding games on Microsoft's download service. I'm used to hearing redone remixes and remakes of old retro songs, but rarely are they as good as they are in Bionic Commando: Rearmed. The music is so good that I wouldn't be surprised if people started seeking out the soundtrack and incorporating it into their regular playlist. They have been able to walk that fine line between honoring the twenty year old music and making it sound new and fresh. I'm amazed at what GRIN and Capcom were able to do with this game.
All in all Bionic Commando: Rearmed is the type of game that every fan of action/platformers should pick up. The grappling hook mechanics may seem foreign at first, but within a few levels you'll have mastered the technique and will be swinging with the best of them. Capcom yet again proves that they are the masters when it comes to remaking their classic games, which makes me anxious to see what they have in store for 2009 and beyond. At ten dollars there's no excuse for not picking up this brilliant action game, especially if you're already a fan of this twenty year old game.
Capcom yet again proves that they are one of the few companies that knows how to resurrect a classic franchise. Twenty years may have passed between the original release and this remake, but Bionic Commando: Rearmed feels just as relevant today as it did back in the late 1980s. At a mere $10 this is one game you can't afford to ignore!
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