Beauty, they say, is only skin deep, but in Binary Domain the same is often true of a person’s humanity. In the frightening future Tokyo of 2080, a deadly battle for survival rages between humanity and its advanced robot creations, many of whom have deviously adopted a flawless human appearance to infiltrate our society.
Games about that deep, dark fear of human-looking robots replacing us is nothing new, nor is battling them in a third-person squad-based cover shooter.
But Binary Domain, created by Vanquish producer Jun Yoshino and Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi, has enough cool Japanese atmosphere and new squad ideas to potentially be special.
While your squad in Binary Domain remind us of those awful United Colours of Benetton adverts, with stereotypical representatives from every race and even a pair of girls, its gunplay and squad mechanics make it stand out.
There’s a raw, visceral edge to its shooting as your high-powered guns rip into enemies, sending robot pieces and shards of metal spilling everywhere. Enemies aren’t typical weedy one-shot-kill videogame robots either, feeling impressively chunky as you blow bits off them.
Like the Terminator, they’re relentless, and shooting off limbs or legs merely has them drag themselves screeching towards you. Letting up for even a moment means being overwhelmed, especially in epic set piece battles with huge robot bosses.
With those odds you wouldn’t survive long alone, but you’ll choose two squad-mates for backup, and Sega is spicing up squad-based play with an interesting trust system.
As you battle, your team-mates judge your performance, as represented by a swinging gauge. Should you go down, you can either use health packs or call upon one of your squaddies.
Whether they’ll wade into danger for you or not depends on how much they trust you; if your trust level is low they’ll stay put and refuse to help, which could make for fresh gameplay.
That said, Binary Domain will have to work hard to stand out, and we’ll officially eat our hat if one or more of your squad doesn’t turn out to be a robot.
We’ll also be shocked if it doesn’t all end with a hippy message about true humanity being of the spirit rather than the flesh. But if its gunplay is as good as it looks, it could be worth sitting through all that preaching.