E3: An Early Look at Binary Domain

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Earlier today, ComingSoon.net got a behind-closed-doors look at the upcoming Sega game, Binary Domain at E3 in Los Angeles. The year is 2080 and robots are a part of everyday life. There is a firm called the IRTA that governs the use and creation of robotics and one of their laws says that no robot can be made in human form. Well, rules are made to be broken and someone made a skin job. (Sorry. No way to resist a “Battlestar Galactica” reference here.) The IRTA believes that a Japanese scientist was responsible, and they must battle through Tokyo to find out if it’s true. You are Dan Marshall, a part of the IRTA crew. You’re deployed, along with a team of operatives from Great Britain, China and the United States to take him and his robot minions down.

We got a chance to check out the game, which was still in its pre-alpha stage, and take a look at Chapter 2. (Chapter 1, we were told, begins in the States.) First up, we were shown the party selection system. You’ve got to pick your team and you can’t take everyone. Each character has pros and cons, different weapons, skills and fighting styles. Oh, and different levels of trust. From what we saw, trust is very, very important in this game. Things you do affect how each character feels about you and whether or not they’ll help you in a campaign.

Each character is customizable and only the characters you select get experience points from the battle. You can upgrade your weapons at kiosks, buy new ones and grab new health packs to outfit your crew. The credits used to purchase these necessities come from IRTA payment for each kill. Smack down a robot, get some cash. Not bad for a day’s work.

What was really cool here was the voice command system. When someone asks you a question, you are given a list of answers that you speak into the headset. You can call for help by saying, “help.” You can give tactical commands, banter with your colleagues and get people’s attention. And that list isn’t all you can say. You’re encouraged to try many different words and phrases. But be careful. If someone doesn’t trust you enough, they might not bring you a health pack when you ask for help. They might not come to your rescue when a bot smacks the crap out of you.

Enemy robots have procedural damage and the A.I. adapts to the situation, so if you blow off someone’s gun arm, they might switch to another hand or another type of attack. One tactical move we were shown was to shoot off the enemy’s head. It doesn’t die, but it gets confused and might actually attack it’s fellow bots.

We got to check out a boss fight with a giant robot called “Arachne” which looked like a giant spider-bot. (There are going to be two or three boss battles in each of the six chapters.) We, along with our crew had to shoot off it’s leg covers, dodge targeting lasers and blast it’s glowy leg guns. (Sorry, we didn’t get the technical term.) Boss battles often come with intel from HQ, but you really have to work as a team to take them down.

The graphics looked pretty great, and though it seemed to rely heavily on making sure you’re the popular kid in the group, the voice system was a very cool addition. Now, we didn’t get to play, but there didn’t seem to be bugs of any kind in what we saw. Not sure how well the system will work and what words it will recognize, but the concept is something different in a sea of same.

Binary Domain is looking at a 2012 release for the PS3 and Xbox 360.