Binary Domain is a Third-Person-Shooter with a cover system set in the future after catastrophic events led the world to some major changes. In 2080, due to climate changes, the world faced the largest flood that has ever existed, and in search for cheap, reliable labor, the humanity turned to robots, in hope for a better future. To lead this revolution is Bergen, a US-based company, responsible for manufacturing robots for all over the world. But Bergen is not the only one in the business. Amada, a Japanse company, sued Bergen for stealing their technology. Bergen won, much because of its influence... They do manufacture over 90% of world robots, and this made the USA more powerful than ever! Tension between both companies grew, and to appease everyone's peace of mind the "New Geneva Convention" was created; A new set of rules that determines how far both companies can go in terms of investigation regarding Artificial Intelligence. To impose such law, a world team of the best soldiers was united, nicknamed "Rust Crew". These brave men step in if any law is broken, and of course we wouldn't have a game if everyone played by the rules... We take the role of Dan Marshall, an American member of the Rust Crew, who together with a group of interesting soldiers, fight against the production of Hallow Children; robots that look exactly like humans, and believe to be humans, mixed in the society!
Without giving away spoilers, Binary Domain was (at least in my perspective) heavenly influenced by Ghost in the Shell anime, but in a fantastic way, managing to keep a story and spirit of its own. The eternal intellectual argument is still present, but makes it hard to discuss such issues since the Hallow Children do not wish harm naturally, but like any robot, can be hacked to one's will. The designer Toshihiro Nagoshi (Yakuza series), managed to give authenticity and atmosphere to the game, with a fantastic personality to each character, and to the whole group. The interactions are extremely well made, with decisions to make that affect the outcome of encounters. Depending on the chosen strategy, answer or decision, will result in a positive or negative point towards the team. This method was so well implanted that if the player has a microphone, he can give vocal orders to the partners. Doesn't work flawlessly, but it's a fantastic idea. Manual choices are obviously included, with dozes of possible options and results. Boost team's morale, make them sad or angry, or just complement their work. It's all up to you. Team party builds up is also a possibility, with a special romantic outcome, and a friendship that outlasts any war, even among the ruins on this new and decayed Tokyo.
Binary Domain isn't just about shooting, but it's probably what most people will spend their time on. As an action game with a cover system, I must say it takes inspiration from Gears of War series, and the result is fantastic. The cover system works flawlessly, (but be careful for weak cover spots), blind fire, and fast shooting when leaving cover is quite stable and perfect for high-paced players like myself. Don't feel like having your partners doing all the work? Go out there and destroy any robots you want with a fantastic selection of weaponry from grenades, pistols, machine guns, and yours truly; the Assault Rifle with a Shock Burst! A nice feature that bursts a energy impulse that if upgraded enough can cause massive damaged.
Although picking up weapons from enemies is possible, the game also includes these amazing and cute vending machines that sell all sorts of weaponry, and gives away bonuses as part of an automatic lottery game that I just find hilarious. In this same machine, upgrading weapons and skills for each member is also available. Increasing health, fire rate, reload speed, and all sorts of enhancements to make your party stronger. The level design is unique and portraits a futuristic Japan, with a wide variety of scenarios, from suburban areas, to Yakuza districts and even Amada building itself. Every area is pretty much a fantastic place for a fight, with covers not disrupting the environments, but instead, taking a part in the fight.
Mechanically, Binary Domain is a perfect example of how Third Person Shooters with cover should be, but it still has some flaws. Some encounters are frustrating to fight in, due to how impractical they are comparing how much there is to fight against the space of the AI abilities. This reflects in the boss's, as some are fun to do, amazing and leaves you wishing for more, and others are just boring insipid and don't do justice to this amazing game. Enemies differ from soldiers to heavies, and pretty much any other class you expect to find in this kind of game. They are all robotic forms, and shooting their body-plates can sometimes peal them, to reveal weak spots! Any action fan can easily relate to this title, as shooting robots become very satisfying very soon, and trying out higher difficulty modes such as No-Mercy will put you to the test. Unfortunately New Game+ doesn't let you keep any upgrades you might have, and that's a shame.
Design choices portray several states of Tokyo and how that affects the ones living in it. During the campaign some locations leave a bigger impact, such the underground Yakuza neighborhoods, very rural, and with an urban reflect on its youth. Right above it, the Upper Town, a high-class place for wealthy citizens. Around all this, the ruins stand among the forgotten robots mechanical corpses. Fighting and surviving alongside these places become a part of the adventure, as the player goes through tunnels and even at the Amada main building. Each location is impressive designed with a great attention to detail, lights and time of the day, making specific fights memorable.
Single-Player campaign is where this title shines, but co-op is available as well for double the fun. Online modes include the traditional matches, and Invasion, a mode that resembles Horde Mode from Gears of War. Extra Challengesare also available online, for those looking to squeeze the maximum out of it.
Overall, Binary Domain is everything we need in a shooter; Great action moments where the player's skills really matter, deep story, characters that are interesting and react differently to each situation and based on the party chosen. An intriguing plot, that just keeps getting your attention with moral questions. Can we really kill a robot for not being human, when he deeply believes he is? How is that not a murder? What makes us humans? Bones instead of metal? Or emotions, and if so, how we can't tell if Hallow Children doesn't love, fear, or hate? This game is about human conditions, what they mean, and how far are we ready to go to keep our own condition alive? Japanese game development at its finest.