What's Bionic Commando's Swing Like

BCchangesarmimpressions.jpg This screenshot, this one right here, is a mistake. It shows what looks like a bulky dude with an enormous arm covered in Oscar Mayer wieners. If this is supposed to be Bionic Commando, why is he walking?! When people can't play a title, they go by the only thing they can. In this case, screenshots. We (being me) haven't played it either, but watched a couple Capcom dudes play through it yesterday. They seemed to like it! (Hey, the Nissan salesman at my local dealership really seems to enjoy driving Nissans, too.) For about thirty minutes, we had a Hands-Off, Eyes-On with the game.

The demo was from a build that was shown earlier this year at Capcom's Gamer's Day. The problem I have with watching companies play through demos at large staff events is that I often think they are pre-recorded. Certainly, I don't think companies do this to hide problems with the games themselves, but rather, to avoid any unforeseen technological problems like a controller accidentally discounting or whatever. But, I watched a good thirty minutes of honest-to-goodness play, complete with me chiming in and asking the dudes to try this or show me that. Didn't get to play, but I'm happy to share my observations from the build I saw.

The Swing Let's face it. If you are interested in this game, this is why. The swinging mechanic is what made the original. It *is* Bionic Commando. The arm can grab onto anything and swing — save for the red areas of radiation. The reason why physics are so important is that weight and mass come into play. Spencer's own body weight can cause certain objects to collapse. Stronger objects won't be affected. Others will be weakened the more he swings on them.

"We tried to do totally free swinging," says producer Ben Judd. "But it was way too frustrating." The team came up with an unique solution: Put auto-aim on a vertical axis which puts auto-select on that axis, but give players the freedom move and control the swing without it being insanely impossible control. Judd adds, "Giving the users just enough auto so that they feel in control but not so much that they are frustrated and unable to go where they want to is a slippery slope." It's not a rehash of Spider-Man by any stretch, but something else entirely. On paper, the controls sound logical and straightforward: The left thumbstick moves Spencer, while the right thumbstick controls the camera. The right trigger fires Spencer's gun, while the left one shoots the arm's cable.

If you pick up enough speed you can do a flip-type thingy, but it's only if you have enough speed so that it doesn't get annoying and you're flipping all over the place. The swinging does look smooth, and Capcom Japan producer Motohide Eshiro said they've been trying to keep the swinging as smooth as possible. Many Japanese gamers get motion sick from movement in first-person-shooters. That doesn't mean the swinging looked slow. It was, well, smooth.

The Stage The demo map Capcom showed was fairly big. The game maps are not only sizable horizontally, but also vertically. Nice thing about it: There were colours other than brown. I even saw greens! Apparently, the finished game won't look like it was made in a mud pie.

Also because the maps are so huge, the speed at which Spencer runs is at a snails place compared to how he can zip around the level.

Capcom is still doing some tinkering and trying to decide whether or not touching the red glowing patches of radiation through the game will damage health. If they do, it'll probably be a misstep. Glowing red radiation probably would do things like give Spencer cancer in ten years or knock his sperm count off. Worse things than simply knocking a few digits off a health bar.

The Sausage Arm During the demo, I don't think the dreads ever really stood out. Not even once. Maybe if I saw a cut scene, I'd notice. Didn't really notice or think ZOMG DREADS during the demo. Sure, now that I think about it, having the dreads echo the swing makes sense as far as a design choice goes. Personally, I don't care either way. Spencer wasn't a blocky Gears of War type character, either. The arm wasn't as huge as I thought it was going to be, and it glowed a nice orange red. Of course, the freakazoid orange tubing was still hot doggish.

According to Judd, the game is about half done. Things will be changed and refined, we're sure. But seeing how much importance Judd and co. and putting specifically on the swing hopefully shows that this sequel is in good hands.


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