The game is set 10 years after Capcom's NES original, in which time has not been kind to protagonist Nate. As he waits for his execution on death-row, a terrorist bomb is detonated in Ascension City - forcing officials to pull Nate out of jail and back into action.
Bionic Commando has a single-player campaign that will last around 10 hours on the standard difficulty, but there are also multiplayer options which take advantage of the game's unique mechanics.
To nail a Bionic Commando game, you simply have to get the swinging mechanic correct. Switching to the third-dimension for the first time, concerns were raised over how well the swinging world work. GRIN nailed it. While there is certainly a learning curve attached to the controls, nothing quite compares to the satisfaction gained by swinging your way through levels, grappling onto enemies, swiftly attacking them and then continuing swinging to the objective. There's a real sense of speed attached the mechanic which really emphasises the enjoyment you'll get from playing as Nate Spencer.
Bionic Commando Rearmed had one of the best soundtracks for a video game in recent years. Bionic Commando is no different. Opting for an orchestral approach as opposed to the electro of previous encounters, the blockbuster-esque score heightens the action to a superb level.
After initially being presented by the DNA like "Bionic" menu system, you're fully aware that Bionic Commando is going to be a treat to look at. But it's so much more. Whether it's the lush greens of the forest setting, the towering buildings of Ascension City or the ludicrously high-quality storm of the penultimate stage - Bionic Commando is a treat to both eyes and ears. We're convinced that the water effects are quite possibly the best we've ever seen.
Bionic Commando is essentially a linear experience. And while that's quite damning on the game as a whole, you quickly realise that it's the best way for the game to be. The excellent level design means you can focus on speed and using the swing mechanic accurately. It also means that GRIN are able to guide the player through the levels and reward with some fantastic set-pieces.
Given Bionic Commando's "waypoint" design philosophy, there are a lot fewer checkpoints than there should be, meaning simple mistakes are punished by repetition of entire stages. It helps to make the game that inch longer but, honestly, it's not the best way to extend the life of a game. It serves only as frustration, particularly on the higher difficulty settings.
The slow loading periods are also irritating during Bionic Commando. You'll be met by a tiresome loading screen every time you die or reach a new area of the game - something that becomes insanely frustrating.
There are a number of challenges in Bionic Commando which reward the player with upgrades as they are completed. Sadly these aren't carried forward into multiple playthroughs; making completing them all require the "perfect" playthrough. The fact that progress is erased when you die is also an oversight that should have been picked up on during testing.
Bionic Commando boasts a complete multiplayer element which we'll talk about in more detail at a later point.
Swedish outfit GRIN have acted like Bionic Commando's fairy-tale prince; seeking the princess with Rearmed and ultimately kissing the franchise back to life with this entry. Still, like any fairy-tale, there are flaws to contend with along the way.