No game has ever made it this fun to shoot a robot.
Binary Domain is a fantastic third-person cover-based shooter with a unique story that seems basic at first, but turns out to be amazing. You play as Dan “The Survivor” a soldier who has been fighting for the American military his whole life. Robots, or “scrap-heads” as people call them in the game, have integrated into human society. Now you’ve been sent on a mission with your “Rust Crew”, a team of international agents formed by the UN, in order to apprehend a scientist named Amada for creating robots that appear to be human which breaks international law
Binary domain came out in 2012 and only sold 20 thousand copies in the US during its first three months. That’s pretty pathetic.
Why did it sell so poorly? Some weird, and poorly executed advertising is at fault. Not to mention the American box art is really odd to look at.
Also it does not represent ANY part of the game. Never does Charlie get injured, forcing Dan to carry him while the group is chased by scrap-heads.
The game was just marketed poorly, and the trailers up to release just felt off.
Video courtesy of IGN
The trailers made the game out to be a commentary on the ethics of creating robots and how they are valued (which it certainly is not) then shows a ton of gameplay focused on the mass destruction of robots.
This is not a game about remarking the horrors of the robotic future, its a badass shooter with an exciting story.
Shooting Mechanics function perfectly
Binary Domain never feels like it stands out, in that it doesnt give you that “holy crap this is insane, that was so cool” feeling that lots of good triple-A titles do. That’s pretty odd, since so many parts of the combat feel fantastic. Guns are bullet hoses, but there arent many long range action sequences, and when there are its a boss, and their weak points are enormous. Run and gun tactics are fun as hell because you can mow down enemies by the dozen.
None of the weapons felt weak, besides the three-round-burst rifle, which didn’t do nearly as much damage as it should have to be worthwhile. The game has a slightly branching upgrade system in that Dans’ (as well as your squadmates squadmates’) primary weapons can be upgraded in different ways like accuracy, magazine size, damage. The difference in Dan’s rifle from the beginning to the end of the game seem extremely substantial, but the game ramps up in difficulty later in the game so you never feel overwhelmed with a weak gun.
You also have an energy blast. It is amazing. Its knocks over every enemy in its path (or killing them based on how much you upgraded the blast) and incapacitates bosses for a short time. The badassery of the energy blast is balanced out by a charge time, but its still fun as hell to use.
All around, shooting feels like a lot of fun, and I enjoyed shooting robots in Binary Domain more than I did in any other cover based shooter, including the most famous games like Gears of War.
This Is How Enemies Should React To Getting Shot
Binary Domain’s enemies, robots called “scrap-heads” react to getting shot exactly the way a robot should. Nuts and bolts fly off the robot, plating cracks and shatters, and robot limbs fly everywhere, only for the robot to keep crawling towards you, or pick up its weapon with its remaining arm and keep fighting.
The only game to get AI reactions to getting shot REMOTELY well as Binary Domain was Rage. The scrap-heads flinch when shot, crumble when limbs are damaged, and start firing blindly at other enemies when their heads are shot off.
Shooting the scrap-heads is so satisfying, because later in the game when running and gunning becomes viable, you can mow down tons of enemies, and its a spectacle to behold.
The game’s intro and tutorial really do a great job of introducing the player to the shooting and the way enemies function
Video courtesy of Hodilton
Hidden Consequences In The Story
Binary Domain has an odd friendship system which ties into the story. As I played, I thought the friendship system just affected whether or not your squadmates listened to your orders, but partway into the game I realized it changes the story drastically. Killing tons of enemies in short periods of time is one way to improve your relationship with teammates. Its a matter of proving your value to your teammates, and if you do this enough, the story is much happier later in the story.
I never noticed any changes to the story early on, but two-thirds of the way into the story your relationship with your squadmates matters immensely, determining if Dan gets a love interest, and whether several characters live at the end of the game.
Except for the Brits. The British characters dont contribute to the story in any way beyond some exposition and the occasional rocket launcher.
Binary Domain understands how to use comedic relief fantastically. Binary Domain is a pretty tense game, so right before the player reaches a breaking point, the game leaves you in a small hub where you can have a short conversation with your squadmates and buy supplies, then you continue. This happens 3 times, and really helps pace the story.
Rarely Do Games Successfully Justify It’s Diversity
Lots of games like to throw in characters of difference race because they want to seem diverse. Lots of games and shows are obsessed with looking diverse by throwing in people of color, then stereotyping them to all hell (see term: “token black guy”). Some games just seem like a board room executive shouting “MULTICULTURAL DIVERSITY IS IN RIGHT NOW GUYS”.
Binary Domain doesn’t want anything to do with those fools. The “Rust Crew” that Dan has been assigned to is made up of units designated by the UN, so every major country involved in the UN contributes soldiers. The US, Great Britain, France, China, and Germany (they never show up to join the team, assumed they died :l ) all contribute soldiers to your team. You end up with a team of unique characters who all interact with Dan in different ways.
A Focus On Voice Commands Inhibit The Player
This game does not do anything incredibly innovative tech-wise (besides the beautiful destruction of robots) and at the release of Binary Domain, voice commands were all the rage. Thanks to the stigma that every serious gamer has a mic, and the 12 year old playing call of duty stereotype that came with it, Sega thought they could put those microphones to good use.
The game has a voice command system which lets you speak to your squadmates and give them orders. Its completely unnecessary and limits the player. The commands are always limited to 4 choices at most, and even then they’re usually poorly done good and bad choices.
Commands like “you idiot” don’t seem like a good idea when the only way to get the good parts of the story is to get your squadmates to LIKE you.
Why Are The British Even Here?
I know I was just talking about uniqueness in the different characters, but the British units Rachael and Charlie don’t contribute to the story in any significant way. Every character, even if you never add them to your squad, let you know some of their backstory. The Brits never do this. Rachael seems like shes only there because she has a rocket launcher, and Charlie is just there to be the edgy leader who acts like a dick all the time.
Tip for people who want to play the game? Never have the Brits in your squad. They serve no real purpose in the story. Faye and Bo are better at everything anyways and getting their friendship level to the max is vital to the story’s ending.
I love British people but DAMN Rachael and Charlie are jerks, and not in the amusing British way.
Rachael calls Bo fat. Yes, because those muscles twice the size of Rachael’s head is ALL fat. Twit.
Horrible Porting Killed The PC Version
Sega handed the PC port of Binary Domain to a group called Devil’s Details. They have no idea what they’re doing and it has shown in every game Sega let them port.
Sonic Generations? Terrible port, great game. Virtua Tennis 4? Apparantly terrible port, so bad in fact it was pulled from steam and even Sega’s own website after a while since it sold so terribly. Binary Domain? ABYSMAL port, FANTASTIC game.
There’s a laundry list of problems with the PC port including, but not exclusive to:
- Forced mouse acceleration (cant be turned off without messing with .ini files)
- No mouse controls in menus
- Remappable keys dont actually work, stuck with terrible keybindings
- No control options in-game, and sensitivity is CRAZY high with a mouse by default so you have to restart the game to change your sensitivity
- Screen tearing with V-sync that doesnt do anything
- OPTIONS MENU IN-GAME IS WORTHLESS
Its just sad how badly an amazing game was messed up.
Binary Domain is such a fantastic game its a goddamn shame the ending set up for a sequel, only for it to never come because of poor sales. I really recommend this game, just see if you can get a console version of the game, or much better buy the PC version and play with a controller. It really is the best third-person shooter of the last generation of games.
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