As far as remakes go, Bionic Commando Rearmed
was one of the best. This 2008 release captured everything that was great about the original 8-bit game, while swapping in lush visuals and a vastly improved script. Best of all, the developers completely retooled the gameplay, allowing for the types of daring acrobatics one could only dream about on the NES. After two decades, it was safe to say that Nathan "Rad" Spencer was back and ready to swing into action.
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is the inevitable sequel, a game that manages to take the spirit of the original remake and add enough new elements to make it stand on its own. In a way, that's all I asked from this release. Just give me a few new abilities and a bunch of harrowing platforming puzzles and I would have given the game my endorsement and called it a day. In some ways Rearmed 2 goes above and beyond what I was expecting, though anybody not convinced by the 2008 remake will not be swayed by this sequel.
The story takes place in between the events of the first Rearmed and the full 3D Bionic Commando reboot. You play Nathan Spencer, a trained soldier who ends up living his life with a bionic arm. This allows him to grab items from across the room and swing from one platform to the next. It's a handy accessory for anybody looking to save the world from comic book-style villains. Thankfully this game is chock-full of over-the-top baddies with amazing bionic super powers.
In the olden days, Nathan's bionic arm worked as an alternative to jumping. As fans of the series will no doubt remember, Nathan didn't know how to jump, so it was up to him hooking his arm and swinging around the levels. That is not the case in Bionic Commando Rearmed 2. This time around our mechanical hero can jump up, down and all around. It's a controversial decision that makes this sequel more accessible to modern gamers. Nathan doesn't have a double jump or anything fancy, but the very idea of him jumping is enough to send some purists into a panic.
Being able to jump makes Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 a much easier experience. Players no longer need to use the momentum to swing to higher platforms, now they can simply jump up and latch on. That's not to say that there aren't a lot of fun platforming obstacles to overcome, but I found that jumping just made everything easier. It's worth mentioning that the game will reward players who manage to make it to the end of the game without using the jump button. In fact, once you've beaten the game you will be offered and option to simply remove the jump feature. It would have been nice if this mode was available from the start.
The action takes place over 28 different levels, each taking us through familiar Bionic Commando locations. We fight through the jungle, factories, underground caves, buildings, and pretty much every place that has something to connect your bionic arm to. The game's final act features several inspired levels, including an exciting prison break and some platforming puzzles on the outside of a moving vehicle. Unfortunately players are forced to wade through too much familiar territory in order to get to the main course.
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