Released in 2009, Bionic Commando follows the inexplicable trend of naming later instalments of a series the exact same as the original game, utterly confusing everybody attempting to talk about it. Also, there's grappling and a terrible story and stuff.
Best time on Normal difficulty: Single-segment 1:05:46 by Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy on 2013-08-11.
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I have a weird love-hate relationship with this game. On one hand, I really love the concept of this game, and swinging feels great when it works. On the other hand, this games physics are terrible when they want to be, and the game just flat out kills you if you even get into the idea of going OoB. Every single area in the game can kill you if you swing too high.
For all that, it basically becomes impossible to completely control your character. As such, knowing the stage layouts and understanding how to abuse the broken physics to pick up momentum on the fly is pretty critical to preventing time loss. The net sum of this is that while this run has some pretty glaring errors, I completely blame them on the game, and my decisions to save situations were good, and I had good luck overall.
Finally, some cutscenes are skippable, but even ones that are have a delay before you are allowed to. Also the story is absolutely horrid.
Stage by stage as they are listed in the stage selection screen.
Ascension City Downtown I - Not much interesting here. Spencer doesn't have any of his interesting movement tools yet, so this boils down to taking a straight line to the end. I take a couple odd paths here and there because sometime Spencer will get stuck on the debris.
Tutorial - Strangely, the tutorial is only half skippable. Pretty straight forward, just do the actions to progress until the hack point is available. Theres a couple minor physics tricks you can do here, like bumping corners on advancement points, but nothing significant. There is one minor shortcut on the swinging after the radiation to avoid a climb.
Ascension City Downtown I - This is a really tough section to optimize because the signs are placed in really inconvenient places. I got too close to one sign and lost some seconds recovering, but nothing too drastic.
Ascension City Downtown II - Swinging sideways allows me to abuse the forward momentum created when swinging instead of waiting for spencer to finish an arc.
Ascension City Downtown III - Theres a ton of garbage on the ground near the one place I land. Its possible to get a sideways swing off the pillar to the left but its pretty difficult. I've tried pretty hard to find a way to clip past the monorail car, but it doesn't seem to be possible at this time. Inside of the buildings, zipping toward the ground is slightly faster than just walking, but near enemies it becomes risky since the zip-kick will result in moving back and losing time pretty drastically.
Ascension City Downtown IV - I chose to throw a grenade up the stairwell here in order to recieve the extra handgun ammo because there is a lot of it near the hack point afterwords. This pretty drastically decreases the odds of me running out in some upcoming sections. The swings here go pretty well, a couple minor errors but basically perfect recoveries. I took the wrong route after the second checkpoint which costs a few seconds, still nothing major.
Ascension City Downtown V - For some reason it wouldn't let me zip-pull correctly in a couple rooms in the first building here. As far as I know, its not possible to go over the pipework after the building, the game kills you nearly instantly. This is the first good example of how the games physics can just be really messed up, the jump-up right before the first biomech failed for no reasons. I did pretty poorly on zip-kicking the biomechs, for some reason the games targetting was picking up the ground near them instead of their hatches.
Ascension City Downtown VI - Nearly perfect section. Theres a ton of stuff that you can hit here, and missing anything can mess up your position really badly. A slightly better exit to the screen is possible, but still a really strong end to downtown.
Trent Industrial District I - Another really strong section. I made a pretty bad error right at the start of this section, but managed to recover it without backtracking. The fight at the end was extremely ugly because I ran out of ammo about 2 shots before killing the biomech. That said, its pretty common to just get shot by the sniper here and die, so I gave it a pass.
Trent Industrial District II - The biomech fight at the end of this section is scary as hell. I play it pretty safe because the swarms of troopers can gun you down fast, but the extra boxes and the positioning of the biomech make it difficult to kill them with grenades.
Trent Industrial District III - Not much to say here for the first section other than an odd instance of somehow grappling a trooper through a stairwell and getting a zip-kick instead of a zip pull. The fight against the polycraft is the main reason I was willing to give a lot of things up to this point a pass. Killing the polycraft this way and hacking the terminal prevents me from having to kill a second polycraft, but this skip has only about a 50% success rate if I do it perfectly, which often isn't even possible depending on where the first polycraft flies. Not getting the skip leaves me with no ammo and therefor no effective way to kill the second one, so missing this can be a minute lost and is an auto-reset.
Trent Industrial District IV - The odd path in the beginning is necessary to create a realistic path that doesn't involve Spencer taking a long cold bath. The mines after hacking are placed in decent places for speed, but even very minor errors can result in falling in the water.
Fissure I - Fissure is an extremely difficult section to get completely right for several reasons. The room is uneven with lots of jutting rocks, and many of the floors are fairly close to the ceiling. The result is that bumps are pretty common, and also sometimes the targetting for grabbing this is difficult to predict. So while there some errors here, this is pretty clean. I use the punch-up smash instead of waiting for the game to explain to me how to use the kite-throw.
Fissure II - Similar to Fissure I, but a few more errors. I had a really good exit to this screen, getting momentum upwards doesn't always work very well.
Ascension City Downtown VII - Another skip for the fight here, several biotroopers paratroop in on this screen, but you can hack before they reach the checkpoint's range. I save some bulldog shells for the next area. Its possible to get a really godly swing off the lightpost to exit this screen, unfortunately missed here.
Ascension City Downtown VIII - I specifically wanted to save the bulldog shells for the biomech here, as well as to earn a couple of challenge rewards, firestorm and reloaded. Firestorm increases the blast radius of grenades, and reloaded increases the firing rate extremely significantly.
FSA Avenue - I grab super joe's machine gun for the next section, otherwise pretty obvious decisions.
The Buraq - This is a hugely random segement because the drop location of the tarantula missiles are random amoung the four pillars, and I got fairly good luck here. Bad enough luck can make this segment lose over a minute. I use super joe's machine gun to kill off the polycraft because the tarantula missiles are the only way to damage the Buraq. In addition, I want to carry a tarantula into the next segment. The re-spawn timer for them triggers as soon as I grab the previous drop, so swapping back and forth to SJMG allows me to shoot before heading over to the final drop. Dramatically, I grab the missiles on the last possible frame, leading me to have no clue if I had them until the next section started.
Fissure III - This is a pretty good example of how messed up this games targeting is. On the second swing, Spencer ends up grabbing something behind him, in spite of the reticule being pretty clearly pointed in front of him. The game does this A LOT. One of the things that made this run so strong was simply the fact that it didn't happen very often this time. I recovered pretty well, and the rest of the swinging went well, so there is at least that. The biomech at the end has extremely high health, and can hit objects thrown at him away, so utilizing the tarantula missiles stop him from having a chance.
Saints’ End Station - This section sucks because theres a gigantic invisible wall preventing a really obvious sequence break across the chasm. That said, it makes for a pretty interesting section to move across since theres lots of pretty well placed objects. This is also my first opportunity to use the whip-spin, which absolutely wrecks normal enemies.
Fissure IV - This is supposed to be some gigantic cluster of a fight, but only 3 of the enemies are actually placed in range of the hacking point, so instead its just swing past everyone. One of my favorite segments of the whole game, honestly.
Ascension City Park I - The park has lots of messy swings because of the fact that theres not a full ceiling, but instead a bunch of random branches. Fortunately, they are placed pretty well. The biomech fight is somewhat of a disaster. The second biomech refuses to jump to me where I can effectively fight him, and even just randomly falls off the first time he attmpts to jump. I don't know what I really could have done about it, and unfortunately the AI does this kind of stuff all the time, so it's sort of expected to me that this kind of thing would happen once or twice in an attempt, and it costs a lot more time later.
Avenue of Heroes - Short platforming section.
Ascension City Park II - Another room where the try to force you into a big fight, but very few are actually necessary fights. Once again, the biomech fight could have gone more cleanly, but I didn't have enough resources to be as aggressive as necessary. The flip side to that is that going slow on this fight lets me pick up the bulldog, which saves some time later.
Ascension City Garden - Lots of objects to swing off of, and some interesting fights. The bio-lancer gun is amazing for downing biomechs, although the first one here gives me bad luck. Every single biomech in the game has the possibility of its pilot getting out, and the game doesn't consider the biomech dead until he's completely out of the seat. I've also had the game completely block the exit to this section with rocks, which is about as dumb of a way to end a run as any.
Ascension City Park III - I kept zip-kicking people when trying to get to the ground to wire-spin until finally just giving up and walking. The rock spiral is a somewhat difficult section because a lot of the terrain is not grabbable, and going too high can easily result in going into radiation and dying. The mines when exiting this screen are extremely scary. They are deceptively far apart, and missing any of these swings results in a pretty embarrasing way to end a run, so I play them pretty safe.
Ascension City Park IV - Another short swinging section. Some crazy sideways swings could potentially help get up the stairs faster, but with how short the trees in the middle are and the fact that you have to gain verticle speed, it is extremely difficult.
Federal Archives - Kill stuff. Kill stuff good. A nice change of pace just because I get to actually do some real combat, but a lot of the time is simply spent waiting for spawns. I make pretty heavy use of the adrenaline actions since they clear out enemies really well. I need to carry a full bulldog out of this fight for the upcoming boss.
The Mohole - Very scripted boss. I got the two-cycle, and there really isn't much more to do with this boss. Having reloaded is really critical to being able to do damage to him effectively. The guns that drop here are random between the bulldog and SJMG, and while SJMG is technically the worse drop, it really doesn't matter for more than a couple of seconds, whereas missing a cycle would cost 15+.
Port Anderson I - Another expected combat section with only one kill. This section can get pretty dicey if you are too slow advancing since there are so many guards. I got antsy and dropped the bio-lancer too soon and had to use the pistol to finish off the biomech.
Port Anderson II - This is an absolutely increadible section. Killing all the biomechs in the amount of time it took me here is really, really rare, and if they decide to run away they can easily cost me minutes. Even with the mishap with the loose grunt at the end of this section, its still about 20 seconds faster than I've ever done it. also, falling in the water looks really ugly, but didn't actually cost me very much time since the recovery gets full speed pretty quickly.
Port Anderson III - Another section that can easily cost me minutes with a bit of bad luck. Sniping the last biomech in this section is huge, and knowing the arc for the bulldog is critical for hitting these shots. Even then, theres the possibility it falls of the pipe or flies away, so killing him completely from this far away is an extremely fortuitous thing. The rest of this segment goes pretty smoothly, with a few minor platforming errors which I will still blame on the games poor physics.
Buraq Armada - This segment is dumb and I hate it. Theres a minor skip by avoiding jumping into any of the helecopters by grabbing their tails instead of the center, but otherwise its just a really scripted section.
Ash City - Another short platforming section. Its possible to get a godly swing off the last building corner, then off a lightpost, but I've only been able to hit it once when just loading the section over and over.
The Constructor - The constructor is an extremely stressful section because a lot has to happen right in order to avoid simply being massacred. The fact that I skipped fighting both biomechs as well as the polycraft, and also didn't have to stop to kill soldiers for any significant amount of time makes this as perfect of a constructor as I can imagine getting. The Groeder fight goes as well as a scripted cycle based boss can up until he gets the crack in his armor. Before this point, its not possible to damage him with grenades. Once he has the crack, grenades will damage him other than when he's recoving from the previous hit.
The Vault - This section is pretty easy compared to the constructor. The game does attempt to troll me once again by showing off Spencers increadibly horrible aiming with the bulldog. Seriously, I've lost attempts because Spencer shot a grenade straight down, and its yet another reason that some of what happened in this run got a pass. Once inside the building, its no longer possible to grab the ceilings, so instead I make use of the crates and barrels to zip-pull forward. For some reason the Spencer running cutscene is unskippable.
The Final Battle - And the final boss is a series of quicktime events. Honestly, for all the stupid things in this game, this is the one that annoys me the most. It's so anti-climatic that I just go ahead and skip the ending cutscene.
And so thats that. While this certainly has room for improvement, the vast majority of things that happened went right. I certainly hope that I can improve this at some point in the future, but for right now I just really do not have the interest to do so.
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