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Bionic Commando - first look

It's taken 20 years, but the beloved NES classic Bionic Commando is finally getting a real sequel. Whether it'll live up to the expectations that nostalgic gamers have for it is anyone's guess, but this week's Game Developer's Conference gave us a chance to see it up close. At first glance, it looks a lot like every other prettied-up, current-gen, third-person action game out there, but there's a lot of potential here, and not all of it is in the bionic arm that you'll use to rapidly swing around the game's big, open environments.

Taking place 10 years after the original game, Bionic Commando - which doesn't yet have a numeral or subtitle - once again follows Nathan "Rad" Spencer, who's been through some tough times since taking down the Imperials and Master-D (aka Exploding Hitler Face). After continuing to work as an agent for the Federal States of America, Spencer was framed for treason, sent to prison and stripped of his bionic arm - which, in this storyline, replaced his original one. However, as the new game begins, he's offered a pardon in return for fighting a whole new threat - one that the government bears most of the responsibility for.

In the years since Spencer's success, it seems the government turned its back on the bionics program that made him what he is, eventually going so far as to criminalize bionic upgrades outright. Faced with giving up their upgrades or becoming outlaws, many of the disenfranchised "bionics" decided instead to form a terrorist army called BioReign - shorthand for Bionics Resurrection Initiative. Their motivations and goals are complicated, but all you really need to know at this point is that they're what you'll spend the game obliterating.

So far, we've seen two levels: a city in ruins after a WMD attack by BioReign, and a colorful, tree-filled jungle. We're told the city level exists mainly to get players used to running around and shooting at BioReign grunts. It's awfully detailed, though, despite being all drab and gray; shortly after it began, we saw a crumbling skyscraper topple in the distance, which soon sent a thin cloud of whitish dust, thick with flapping bits of paper and other airborne debris, billowing Spencer's way.

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