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Fall 2009...

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84 Fall 2009 playing RAY HULING Bionic Commando Publisher: Capcom Developer: GRIN PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Xbox360 $59.99 inFAMOUS Publisher: Sony Developer: Sucker Punch Productions PlayStation 3 $59.99 Bionic Commando is surprising: it asks, "what could '80s-era stupidity actually mean?" A reboot of a series launched in 1987, the new Bionic Commando retains the macho posturing and goofball premise of its forebears, but instead of merely riffing ironically on its retro weirdness, it tries to consider their implications. What would it mean to run around with a bionic hook-shot instead of an arm? Twenty years ago, this question was half-mechanical and half-whimsical. Bionic Commando belongs to the platformer genre. It's like Donkey Kong in that the core challenge of the game is merely moving through the landscape. Different from most such games, Bionic Commando doesn't rely principally on jumping to get from platform to platform, but rather on shooting a bionic grappling hook into walls and swinging around. That's eighties innovation for you. The legacy of this mode of locomotion weighs heavily on the new game. What worked for the 2-D side-scrolling games of years ago becomes tricky, confusing, and occasionally nauseating in today's 3-D environments. Zipping across Bionic Commando's post-nuclear cityscape is clumsy and frustrating, and even hooking terrorists and robots with your super arm is a drag. The new iteration's adherence to Rambo-esque hero conventions likewise falls flat. The main character's name is still "Rad," because that's what having a bionic hook-arm totally is. Unfortunately, the game doesn't play this stuff for laughs. Rad charmlessly sneers through his dialogue, which could have been sourced from a Mad Lib based on Escape from New York. Bionic Commando does make a couple of advances over the days of Reagan, however. Instead of fighting Nazis and a resurrected Hitler, Rad Courtesy of Capcom

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