Binary Domain Hands-On Preview -- Help Me Help You...Kill Swarms of Robot SoldiersBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Sep 01, 2011
Robots. Why do we hate them so much? That's not the question you're going to be asking while playing Binary Domain, which is Sega's upcoming annihilate-all-robots title from producer Toshihiro Nagoshi of Yakuza fame. But these robots are also trying to kill you at the same time, so you won't feel that bad about it. Especially when they keep on coming at you like zombies with missing limbs and heads.
In Binary Domain, you'll be in the underbelly and overbelly of Tokyo circa 2080 as Dan Marshall, a member of the international Rust Crew who is tasked with taking out robotic threats in the form of "Hollow Children." These are robots that look human, act human, and even think they're human. That's against the Geneva Convention in 2080, so you and your crew are sent to Japan to find out what the hell is going on.
Tokyo in 2080 doesn't look much like the Tokyo of today, as the city has continually been destroyed and rebuilt by rising and falling sea levels. The gameplay will take place between Tokyo's gritty Lower City, which looks like the dank and crumbling ruins of a city that time has passed by, and the gleaming, clean, technological Upper City which has been built on stilts above the remains of old Tokyo.
Starting each mission consists of picking your crew, and you can select team members based on your playstyle, and you can look for long-range support gunners, up-close aggressive types, or a mixture of the two. You'll also choose your teammates based on how much they like or trust you, which is based on the newly announced consequence system.
"Consequence is a gameplay system unique to Binary Domain that combines gameplay elements and AI to create different in-game experiences based on your actions, your choices and your words. The fundamental element of The Consequence System is trust."
In other words, if your teammates don't trust you much, or if you start to lose their trust by sending them into fire or sucking at your job, then they won't listen to your commands. In fact, they'll mouth off back to you and do their own thing. But, if you plan carefully, don't put them in harm's way, and generally behave like a trustworthy squad leader, then you'll see their trust levels rise and they'll start responding to your commands.
This means they'll do things like come over and revive you if you're downed, offer you cover when you're doing your own thing, and will work together in tandem to follow your directions. The game also has a novel interface that allows you to issue these commands via headset, allowing you to talk directly to your squadmates. "Cover me!" might illicit a "No way," or an "On my way!" depending on what they currently think about you. You can even tell them "I love you," which isn't exactly the sort of thing you'd toss out in the midst of a firefight.
The robots themselves are very advanced as well, and they'll take procedural damage through the game. This means you can blow off their armor plating, and even individual limbs. But, these robots are smart (or in some cases brainless) about this. Shoot off their gun arm, and their weapon will clatter to the ground. But, they'll reach down and pick it up with their other arm, allowing them to keep shooting at you. Shoot off their legs and they'll crawl towards you, latching onto your legs, and if you blow off their head, which is where their targeting and optical sensors are, then they'll start shooting at everything, including each other.
Our preview used squadmates Faye, a Chinese sniper, and Cain, a tankish, French brute, assisting Dan as he battled oncoming robot hordes, and the developers told us there will eventually be seven squadmates to choose from, and not all of them will be from the Rust crew. There is plenty of cover through the the game, and you'll be able to pick up dropped weapons and find medikits along the way. If you're out of medikits, and your team likes you, they'll heal you readily. But, if they don't trust you, they'll do it slowly and reluctantly. As they begin to trust you more, they'll talk and work with you a lot more often. Cain will work to get in between you and enemy bullets, and Faye will call out enemy locations when she spots them.
You'll also collect bosonic energy from downed robots, and you'll be able to use that for different things throughout the game, like initiating a shock burst that can briefly stun robots. There are other nice touches throughout the game too, like having your squadmates' EKG on top of their name in the side menus, indicating their current health level, and you can also see how much they like or dislike you via a trust gauge on the edge of their character information screens. The game will also have multiplayer of some sort in it, but they aren't talking about that just yet.
Binary Domain launches on February 17, 2012, and I'm actually excited for this one. Sega ain't just about a little rolling blue fur ball anymore.