Forsaking the usual common enemy of either zombies or Nazis, Sega’s Binary Domain decides to focus on destroying robots. Set in the year 2080, humanoid robots exist; however, it is illegal to create any robots that resemble humans too closely. Of course, it happened anyways. They are called the Hollow Children, robots so lifelike that they existed for years without anyone knowing. Upon discovering the existence of these Hollow Children, an international Rust Crew is put together, a team specifically created to fight robots. You play as Daniel Marshall, a wise-cracking, arrogant American who has a serious loathing for ‘scrap-heads’ (as he calls them). Your team is made up of the usual juiced-up, tough-as-nails soldiers. To them, the fact that a Hollow Child exists is an abomination and all must be destroyed. So they are sent to Japan, specifically Amada Industries, where they believe these Hollow Children were created. Your job is to find proof of Amada Industries transgressions, as well as arrest Yohji Amada, the creator.
The other key aspect of Binary Domain is the focus on working with your AI squad. You can use a microphone and issue commands from a list, which works well enough, but not perfectly. However, a microphone isn’t necessary since you can also give quick commands with a press of a button. Communication is stressed heavily; your squad will often ask you morally heavy questions and if you answer correctly, they will have more trust in you. Your relationship with your squad will affect the story and gameplay; if they have low trust in you, they may not follow commands in battle. Giving orders during battle isn’t anything new, but the fact that your squad may not follow them, or complain after the battle about a wrong order, is an interesting concept. Interesting doesn’t necessarily mean good, though. No matter what commands you give, you will still do about 90% of the fighting. A team member might tell you to take the left side and they’ll take the right, but most likely, you will end up taking both sides in the end. You also have to seriously go out of your way for your squad to not trust you; even unloading an entire magazine into their back might not make them lose that much trust in you. Besides answering questions, you gain their trust by simply shooting robots, which is the entire point of the game, so you are almost always gaining their trust. All in all, the trust dynamic doesn’t mean much since you do almost all the fighting anyways, whether they trust you or not.
There is an online multiplayer, but it’s as basic as basic gets. There are the usual classes you can choose between and the usual online modes, like Team Death Match and Capture the Flag. These modes are a little dry and absolutely nothing new, making them far from special or amazing. Then there is the Invasion co-op mode, where you and some buddies survive an onslaught of enemy waves. It’s fun enough, but it gets old and, worst of all, the lobby is empty most of the time, making it hard to even enter into a game.
With all the complaints, Binary Domain isn’t actually a bad game; it simply could’ve been better. For example, a co-op campaign would’ve been great, and making the AI a bit smarter would have gone a long way. The 8-10 hour campaign is intriguing, has a great atmosphere, and will keep you playing until the very end without feeling like it’s dragging on. Shooting robots has never been more satisfying and will never get old. The communication with your squad is interesting, but just not that important. The best way to explain Binary Domain is that it is a good game that is simply unpolished. If touched up in a couple areas, it could’ve truly shined as one of the better games on the market. Nevertheless, as it stands now, it’s simply an interesting concept on ethics and a fairly fun campaign to play through.
Final Verdict: The campaign is worth playing at least once, but the generic multiplayer lowers the replay value.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Binary Domain by SEGA