PAX Hands On – Binary Domain

September 2, 2011 Written by Cameron Teague

Binary Domain has been a game on my radar ever since its announcement trailer, so at PAX this year I headed over to the Sega booth and got hands-on time with the upcoming robot shooter. The game takes place in 2080 Tokyo, where robots are everywhere and a group of them are now rebelling, causing all kinds of havoc between the top and bottom sections of Tokyo.

Immediately after picking up the controller, I was reminded of Vanquish in how it controlled and looked. That is not to say this is a fast paced game, because it’s not, but the way my character handled was somewhat like Vanquish. Before I started my mission, I was given the option to pick my two squad mates from a group, each member of which had their own skill sets and perks. For my mission I picked a girl with a sniper rifle and an in your face style guy. Who you select really makes a difference as you gain or lose trust with your comrades. The higher your trust with that character, the better they will fight, making it essential to work well with your teammates.

In fact, Binary Domain really pushes you to make nice with your squad and work together with them through their consequence system. In this system, for example, if you continue to die, your squad mates will get frustrated with you and at times will refuse to heal you. What this does is actually reward you for playing smart and not just running and gunning. The guy playing before me proved this when he died multiple times and was flat-out told by one of his squad mates “no” when he requested first aid. This system also affects your trust with characters through choices you make in the game. At one point in my demo, I acted with stealth and killed two guys, earning trust from one character but rubbing another the wrong way because he wanted me to go all out. During the game, you will also be given dialogue choices, where maybe a player says he will take lead and you can say “yes” or “no.” Your answer here will affect the trust with that character. With this system, I found myself really working hard to be a good leader, so that I could inspire confidence in my squad, which in turn made them bigger bad asses.

In Binary Domain, you’ll be fighting a ton of robots and just as you would expect, putting a few bullets into their bodies won’t kill them. Take out their legs and they will crawl after you, or take out an arm and they will just use the other. Most of these robots are fairly easy to dispatch as long as you use cover to your advantage, however if you stay out of cover too long, you will get smoked. I fought one boss in my demo, and this took some trial and error, but I was able to come out on top. The boss was a gigantic mech who I had to fire on from destroyed buildings and rooftops, while also fighting off smaller robots that flew down. At one point during the fight, I was able to shoot down an electric wire while the mech was standing in water, sending an electric shock his way and doing a lot of damage. The rest of the time I was taking aim at his various exposed wires and the top of his head from roofs, until I finally took him down with my very last pistol bullet.

Weapons in the game are pretty much your standard setup except that each one has a special alternate fire that uses power ups found on the ground. For instance, my assault rifle had the ability to charge up and send a shock wave at enemies, which threw them backwards and dealt a good bit of damage. Other than this, it was pretty much straight forward with assault rifles, pistols, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. Even then, all the guns felt good and packed a lot of punch, though the sniper rifle had a weird habit of targeting the closet enemy automatically when you first zoomed in, making it extremely frustrating when trying to pick off other snipers while ground troops were charging.

The game looked good with environments doing a good job of showing the destruction that comes with any war. The story from what I was told would have a few really good twists, including someone maybe being a robot and not knowing about it. Characters voices were solid and fit the character they were coming from, and in-game sounds like gunfire and heavy mechs moving around were well done.

Sega is doing things the right way to offer a unique shooter and squad experience to gamers everywhere. The way your team reacts to your decisions will add another layer of depth to the game, and bosses look like they will be a lot of fun to take down. Binary Domain is set to release February of next year, so until then make sure you check in with us for all the news on this game.