After twenty long years fans of the Bionic Commando franchise finally have a legitimate console title to get excited about.‚  And really, what’s not alluring about Capcom’s next gen revision?‚  In the genre of shooters we’ve come to expect rampant gun-play, violence, and frenzied online multiplayer functionality.‚  Those elements are par for the course, but Bionic Commando literally elevates the game-play and says “hey generic shooter! This is what a next-gen shooter ought to do!”

Capcom unleashed the Bionic Commando *multiplayer* demo on Xbox Live yesterday and after numerous matches played I must say the experience was both refreshingly unique, but also similar enough to the shooter genre that the learning curve was minimal.

The demo is strictly multiplayer, and this is good because the fast paced, action-oriented skirmishes really left me pondering the possibilities of the single player campaign.

Sadly, when you fire up the demo you aren’t treated to any back-story or explanation of just why your arm is bionic with a grappling gun attached to it, but hey, if you played the NES original you know damn well.

Capcom has promised a total of 16 multiplayer maps in the final build, but via the demo only the aptly named “Vertigo” environment is playable.‚  Vertigo instills the sense of, well, vertigo, as the locale is a multi-layered with high-rise buildings perfectly fit to rain sniper fire down on enemies below.

Matches are of the familiar “deathmatch” mode and pit eight commandos against eachother in free-for-all violent mayhem, each with colorful suits, just pray you don’t get shafted with the pink outfit.

The map contains a variety of weapons including the standard weak sidearm, the mighty sniper rifle (which leaves traces of trajectory), a close range beast of a shotgun, the spray-n-pray helluva machine gun, and a cluster-bomb type rifle perfect for those lacking accuracy, as the splash-damage is incredible.‚  Furthermore, a Halo 3 type “overshield” can be picked up which buffs your shot resistance.

So Bionic Commando has all the root elements of a great third person shooter but what about the controls?

A quick press of the left trigger deploys your grappling hook and attaches to anything when the reticule changes from gray to blue.‚  The grappling hook is absolutely perfect for escaping enemy fire in a flash and is also great for reaching high vantage points.‚  I was very skeptical about how the grappling hook would be handled, from a control standpoint, as the potential to fail seemed almost more than likely.‚  However, the hook works wonderfully and truly adds another, pivotal dimension to the title.

I never lived long enough to collect more than two weapons, but a quick toggle of the RB allows for the quick and easy manipulation of equipped weaponry.

Another non-trajectory attack method is through heavy and light punches.‚  Melee combat was commonplace in the matches I partook in as weapon aiming gets screwy in close-combat.‚  A simple tap of Y for heavy punch and B for light punch both have their advantages.‚  However, as expected, heavy punch is pure awesome.‚  Line up an unsuspecting, or suspecting enemy, fill their gut with bionic fist and send them flying off the map, it’s an incredible, power-trip feeling.

Furthermore, your bionic arm can be used in the form of the “death from above” finishing melee attack.‚  When you leap off a ledge onto enemies below you’ll be granted the option to slam your mighty bionic arm into the fray, however if you miss your arm becomes lodged into the ground and you’ll surely become easy prey.

Matches in the demo are a mere 5:00 in length which is very, very short.‚  I found myself just hitting my stride and then pow, the game is over.‚  That said however, the short, frenzied experience is exciting and truly amps you up to hop into the next game.‚  Also, when the title ships this May, match length, game-type, and many more specifics will be fully alterable to specific wishes, phew.

Overall, the Bionic Commando multiplayer demo on Xbox 360 is a breath of fresh air into the predictable shooter genre mainly via the various bionic capabilities.‚  The grappling hook capability is intuitive and near perfectly executed thus bolstering the experience and raising the bar for shooters of tomorrow.

No word of a PS3 demo but Xbox 360 owners start your download here (even if you’re at work or school) via the Xbox Live Web Marketplace

Bionic Commando comes to PS3 and Xbox 360 May 19th and PC July 28th.

About The Author

Eddie Makuch is a Blast staff writer. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch.

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